Animal question: I need an explanation about dog walking

For most of my life, I’ve understood the basics of dog walking. You ask your dog if he wants to go out for a walk, the dog wags his tail and smiles (depending on the breed, some of which don’t smile), you dress for the venture, grab your keys, snap on the dog’s leash and out you go.

Outside, you walk. So does the dog. You have two feet, he has four. He wanders around sniffing at things or other canines, yanks you down the streets, he pees, maybe he poops, you pick up after him, smile at passers-by and there it is, walking the dog.

I’ve never had a dog (although I once had a yo-yo, but never mind) yet have had personal intimacy with a variety of family dogs identified as my nieces or nephews. So I know about the walking activity, the walking necessity. Anyone who has a dog must walk him. Otherwise…

Dogs and human beings co-exist for a bunch of reasons, many of which involve love. Dogs are — with some breed exceptions (I have my prejudices)– lovable creatures. Moreover, a dog is your companion, your BFF and/or BAE, consistent, dependent and trustworthy, an associate personal trainer.

Walking the dog gets you out of the house. The dog is as much walking you as you are walking him. It’s exercise, it’s love, it’s exploration, it’s evacuation.

The past decade or so, I’ve noticed a change in the ritual, or maybe even in the dogs themselves. Because dogs no longer walk. No, although they still have four legs, they do not move those legs much at all. They’ve lost the art of walking.

Dogs no longer walk; dogs are walked. That is, dogs smaller than bread boxes are carried. I’ve seen people, mostly women, carrying their dogs around in their arms as if the dog were a baby who hadn’t yet figured out how to stand up and totter.

Even worse, dog owners have invested, it would seem, in doggie carriages, sort of like baby carriages except clearly built for animals. The owner pushes the carriage containing the dog, who sits there looking around in an embarrassed fashion, like, “What the hell?”

I agree with the dogs. What the hell?

Every once in a while, I see the dog owner lift the dog out of the carriage and set it down on its four legs. The dog stands, shifts a bit on its feet, sniffs halfheartedly, cocks a leg, does its business to inappropriately emotional cheers, and gets lifted back into its carriage.

I don’t get this. Seems that the whole point of having a dog is walking him. Because he could walk, you know, on those four legs. Trotting along beside you.

Why are small dogs no longer allowed to walk?

I’m guessing here, but at some point years ago, some enterprising veterinarian must have decided they could make a lot of money selling dog carriers. So a proclamation emerged: it wasn’t good for small dogs to walk. Small dogs had to be coddled in carriages designed and promoted by…some enterprising veterinarian.

Small dogs are being infantilized. It’s bugging me.

I’d like to see some passive-aggressive protest from a dog or two. Or maybe a Goldendoodle can overturn a doggie carriage and set the little canine free, whereupon the two of them escape to a doggie park where they run around for the entire afternoon.

On their own eight legs.



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2 Responses to Animal question: I need an explanation about dog walking

  1. Sue Thaler says:

    Dogs in strollers are a thing now in NYC? If so, the country really is going to the–uh–dogs.
    The only valid reason for putting a dog into a stroller should be a medical one: Arthritis, broken paw, heart problem, etc. Otherwise it is downright cruel (not to mention unhealthy) to deprive a dog of exercise and its natural desire to sniff out new and exciting things that can be found on sidewalks everywhere–especially in the Big Apple.

    • Naomi says:

      Yes, they are a thing! And I’m thinking either 90 percent of the small dogs I see are under a vet’s Rx for medical conditions or their owners should be. And you, who have a small dog, really understand how peculiar this whole thing is.

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