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!