Uptown Dog

Adventures of a not-so-average mutt making new friends in New York City

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Brooklyn Wolf-Dog Gets a Happy Ending for Christmas

In the days leading up to Christmas, while most of us were busy sniffing presents under the tree and stealing unattended cookies, a wolf was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn. I was a bit concerned to learn about this, since wolves are much bigger and stronger than me. What would happen if i ran into one? My cheerful disposition and adorable lopsided ears are no match for a wolf’s survival instincts.

A very brave citizen put a collar on the wolf and brought her to a local shelter. There, authorities determined that she was not actually a wolf – phew! Instead, she is a wolf-dog hybrid who was probably kept illegally as an exotic pet. I couldn’t imagine being homeless and left to fend for myself during the holidays. I went from being terrified, to relieved, to just plain sad.

I asked Mom if we could invite the wolf-dog to Christmas dinner. Even though she agreed that the wolf-dog is a beautiful creature, it probably wasn’t a good idea, she said. After all, they are illegal to keep in New York, so we might only complicate matters. Mom assured me that the people at the animal shelter would make sure she was taken care of. But I was still worried – what if they determined it wasn’t safe to keep her there? Where would she go?

The wolf-dog’s story ends with a regular Christmas miracle. A special shelter in New Jersey that cares for domestic-bred wolves took her in, and they say that “Lady” is making lots of new friends there! They also shared a video of Lady bonding with hew new companions, and it looks like she is very happy. Who knew wolves could be so affectionate? According to the shelter, Howling Woods Farm, today’s wolfdogs are not the direct offspring of wolves. They come from several generations of wolfdog breeding – so they are not “wild” at all. They are mutts just like me!

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Tidings of Good Cheer

Christmas has come and gone, but the charm of playing with my new toys hasn’t warn off yet!

The three of us spent Christmas in our apartment in Manhattan: just me, Mom and Dad. Mom made baked mostaccioli for Christmas Eve dinner, and I got to taste some of the meaty pasta sauce. I wish I could have eaten a whole bowl of it!

While Mom and Dad drank wine and watched Love Actually, I fought to keep my eyes open so I could catch a glimpse of Santa this year. But that pasta sauce made my eyelids heavy….

Maybe I’ll finally meet him next year. Santa, for such a big guy, you really are sneaky!

Merry Christmas from Uptown Dog

Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, and I just can’t wait for Santa to arrive! I wanted to share some Christmas cheer with all of you, so I made this video. I encourage you to sing along!

Wishing all of my readers a very happy howliday!

Trees: The Canine’s Social Network

Earlier this week I alluded to the challenges of being a dog in New York City. One of those challenges involves a shortage of trees. In our neighborhood in D.C., trees were plentiful. They were something I took for granted. One of the hardest parts of my day was deciding which trees I wanted to sniff. There simply wasn’t enough time in the day to sniff them all!

Why do I love trees so much? We don’t just pee on trees for fun: it’s a way of communicating with other dogs in our neighborhood. Trees are kind of like Twitter feeds for dogs because we use them to leave short messages for each other. When we sniff a tree, we can glean little bits of information about the other dogs who have been there. Are they young or old? Are they male or female? Are they happy, or are they stressed? What did they think of last night’s X-Factor elimination? If I sniff a tree and find something interesting, I can’t walk away without adding my two cents. It’s an ongoing conversation.

Things are a little different in New York City. You can’t just walk out the door and have a smorgasbord of trees at your disposal. There are a few trees on our street – but they are guarded with little fortresses! If I want to get up close and personal with a tree, I have to walk 8 blocks to the park. Now instead of checking my favorite trees for messages, I’m forced to look everywhere, and it’s hard to get a clear picture of what my neighbor dogs are doing. It is very chaotic!

In case you aren’t familiar with tree fortresses, I snapped a few pictures of them on our last walk. Some of them are quite fascinating, while others are just offensive, but no matter what I find myself wondering….who wasted money on this?

When I encountered this tree, I considered jumping the fence and prancing in the lovely holiday greenery. But then I saw the sign. Life was so much easier when I couldn’t read! (Don’t tell anyone, but I may have given this fortress a spiteful spray before moving on.)

On the opposite side of the spectrum, this fortress is rough on the eyes and on the paws. What, were they afraid this tree would grow wings and fly away? Why else would you put concrete blocks around it? No need for a sign to keep me out – I’m moving on to the next tree already.

I am equally excited and terrified by this final display. Look at the size of those pinecones! And the red twigs! They must be imported from someplace exotic. The ivy is also very enticing. You never know what’s hiding under there. Once I found a dead bird in some ivy, and Mom was so excited, she screamed!

I’m still trying to figure out why the tree fortresses are necessary. After encountering the rather rude sign on the first tree, I assumed they were designed to keep dogs out – but dogs pee on trees in lots of other cities, and their trees manage to survive. Plus, just FYI, those little fences are pretty easy for us to hop. Maybe they’re also supposed to protect trees from human foot traffic. The sidewalks do tend to get crowded here. Or perhaps you humans just don’t have enough things to decorate!

Wordless Wednesday

Holiday Coach ads all over the city:

Yours truly (minus the Coach accouterments):

Resemblance?

New York Times: “The City as Chew Toy”

As an apartment-dwelling dog living in New York City, I was excited to see “The City as Chew Toy” on the New York Times homepage over the weekend. Sometimes being a city dog is ‘ruff, and it’s nice to know that someone is paying attention. Mom and Dad do their best to make sure I get lots of exercise and socialization at the dog park, but let’s face it. Living in a 500-square foot apartment and pooping on the sidewalk aren’t ideal for dogs.

Illustration by Greg Clarke for the New York Times

I was hoping to get some suggestions for how to let loose and have a little fun in this urban jungle. The article mentioned my dog run in Carl Schurz Park, and clued me in to Central Park Paws events. Otherwise, the article focused on finding the ideal breed of dog for cramped city living. While I agree that it’s important to do research before bringing home a pet, I was disappointed with the article for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the article did not discuss the best kind of dog: mutts like me! Shelters are full of mutts who need homes, and it’s no secret that Uptown Dog is a big advocate for adoption. Mixed breed dogs also tend to have more balanced temperaments than purebreds, which gives them a little extra patience while they are cooped up inside waiting for their next walk.

Second, the article focuses on the dog’s attributes and neglects the owner’s responsibilities. Even if you pick a breed with ideal traits for apartment living, you can’t expect the dog to adapt perfectly to your lifestyle. There is no substitute for training and exercise, and having a happy dog in the city requires extra effort. I think Andrea Arden has great advice on the unique challenges of training a dog in the hustle and bustle of New York.

There is one aspect of this article that I agree with. Big dogs can be happy in apartments, so don’t rule them out! My friend Riley is a Bernese Mountain Dog who lives in a Washington, D.C. apartment. She gets tired quickly, so after a morning jaunt at the dog park she’s happy to rest on the couch while her mom is at work. It’s all about knowing what your dog needs, and making sure they get it – even if your living situation makes it difficult sometimes.

Home for the Howlidays

With my final post of the week, I want to help out some of my furry friends in New York City who are looking for a home this “howliday” season. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals is holding a huge adoption event this weekend at the Metropolitan Pavilion called “Whiskers in Wonderland.”  Check out the Mayor’s Alliance website for more details. The Mayor’s Alliance has a goal of making NYC a no-kill city by 2015, and we are behind them all the way!

Now, I don’t advocate giving pets as gifts because so many of them wind up back in shelters. Check out this post from the Iowa Dog Blog with some great thoughts on the subject. But if you’ve been thinking about adopting a pet for awhile, giving a homeless animal a loving home is a great way to celebrate the season. 

This adorable holiday video from Bergdorf Goodman might persuade you to take the plunge and adopt a pet for Christmas. (Thanks Miles to Style for sharing this!)

Even if you aren’t ready to adopt right now, you can still stop by Whiskers in Wonderland for some last-minute shopping and unusual holiday fun, including a poker-playing dog and a pet psychic! I want to get Mom one of these Mayor’s Alliance t-shirts from SocialPakt. (You can order these online too!)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Chow Hound

Let’s talk about everyone’s favorite time of day: dinnertime!

Some dogs chow down and eat all their food at once. Instead, I like to “graze.” I’ll choose a few morsels of kibble, and then eat them on the couch where Mom and Dad are sitting. Sometimes kibble falls between the couch cushions, or I forget a piece on the carpet. So I always have a snack lying around when I get hungry later. I didn’t plan it that way, but it works out great.

My eating style can be a problem when there are other dogs around. Just because I’m a slow eater doesn’t mean that I’m not hungry, or that I’m not enjoying my food. I try to speed up so no one will steal my kibs, but that’s hard to do when you’re used to eating slowly. It makes my tummy hurt!

I also have this habit of eating treats on the bed. I always get a treat when we come in from a walk, and the bed is just such a comfortable place to rest my tired paws.  I try to clean up when I’m done – I don’t want to waste any of my precious treat! – but inevitably a few tidbits get left behind.

Mom and Dad are never too happy when they crawl into bed and find themselves swaddled in crumbs. Sorry guys, it’s just my style.

Wordless Wednesday

Preparing to rob the hot dog stand.

Traveling in Packs

We were out for a walk this afternoon, and I spotted something unusual: a pack of dogs!

I was perplexed. I’ve heard of wolves traveling in packs in the wild. But never domesticated dogs living in the city. They had leashes and collars, so I knew they had owners. Maybe all these dogs have one owner, I thought, and they all live together in one massive penthouse apartment! I ascertained that they were a friendly pack, so I decided to introduce myself and figure out what they were up to.

Turns out they were with dog walkers who take them on adventures while their humans are at work. A lovely lady named Stephanie used to take me on walks every day when we lived in D.C., but we never went out in big groups like this. It looks like fun!

Mom promised me that after she takes the New York bar exam and starts going to work again, she will find me a pack to hang out with during the day. I can’t wait! But until then, I’m flying solo.

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