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Sunday, April 5, 2009
The subject of dogs is a popular--and acrimonious--one in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. As yet this blog hasn't said much, if anything about dogs. Well, here goes....
Dogs can be wonderful pets. They can enliven a person's life and make it more meaningful, and provide emotionally proven benefits to the dog owner. That said, Tishman Speyer has mishandled the dog situation from the beginning. I'm not going to get into the debate of whether it was a mistake for Tishman Speyer to allow dogs as pet residents. Clearly the previous decades-long policy against dogs was there for a reason, and we are seeing the reason (actually, reasons) every day in the life of Stuy Town/Peter Cooper Village.
A day doesn't go by when I don't come across in even a short walk through Stuyvesant Town the residue deposits of someone's dog on the walkways, sometimes even right around the Oval walkway--and in some cases close by to the little guard booth that is occasionally manned by a guard. I wonder if the dog owners responsible for letting their pets do nature's calling on these walkways just don't know the rules (both the city's and Stuy Town's) or, if they do know them, if they just brush them off as so much bother. After all, they reason, they will pick up after their dog--so what's the problem? The problem is, of course, that residue is typically left over, which, being small, is even more of a threat for the pedestrian to step on, as it's not as visible as an unpicked load would be. Oh, and speaking of unpicked loads, those can be found around Stuy Town/PCV, too.
There are other problems.
Dog owners are trying to get a dog run in Stuy Town/PCV, and I say good luck but not in my neighborhood (ie, anywhere near my building). These owners are not to be faulted for this desire, as it's natural that a dog owner would like to have a dog run. I'd probably want one, too, if I owned a dog. But with a dog run will come a concentration of dog noise throughout the day and wafts of doggie smells to nearby residents who open their windows in the warmer months of the year. The instant response from certain owners to the noise issue is typically, "Well, kids make more noise," but even if that is true, that's no reason to double the noise quotient with a dog run. We should be working to lessen unnecessary noise in ST/PCV, not increase it. (For that reason, I'd love to see a ban of skateboarding here.)
In setting the rules for dogs in ST/PCV, Tishman Speyer developed an unrealistic set of expectations and policies. They set rules which are 1) easily broken, and 2) which they don't enforce. Dogs, for instance, are not allowed on any grass area, but it is impossible for a dog not to gravitate to that area and frequently take leak somewhere in that region. Sure a dog owner can insist that his/her dog not go on the grass, but that's rather hardcore, given the nature of a dog (or even a person).
As for leaks, well.... I see ST/PCV dogs taking many at the base of trees, which is never good for the health of tree. And, if you haven't noticed, we have a lot of trees in the complex. Do I fault the dog? No. I fault the owner. And even then, I'm beginning to cut the owner some slack, as it is Tishman Speyer's policies, both in allowing a dog presence in ST/PCV and in setting unrealistic rules, that are at fault here.
Dogs on long retractable leashes. Against the law. Dog owners are either unaware of this or they just flaunt their disregard for this law. I'm just waiting for the sob story when a speeding bicycle gets caught up in one of these extended (and almost invisible) leashes. Both bicyclist and dog will probably wind up in the hospital--the former in a human one and the latter in an animal one.
Barking dogs. Thank heavens that I don't live next to a neighbor that has one--though that can always change. This must be a particular kind of hell--as is living next to noisy human neighbors.
Dog hair in the washers. Yup, I've heard the complaints and I've come across this myself. You open up the washer to throw your clothes in, and there's a ring of brittle dog hairs along the rim of the washer. Please, dog owners, if you wash your dog stuff in the laundry room, have the courtesy to remove your dog's hairs after you are done.
Big dogs--two of them! Another frequent sight in ST/PCV. These dogs come from outside, one would think, as Tishman Speyer restricts the weight of the dogs one owner can have. I've yet to come across a security guard stop any outsider from walking their illegal-in-ST/PCV dogs around the complex.
"Love my dog as I love him/her." This is a frequent, presumptuous attitude on the part of dog owners. From this attitude arises the stance that one's dog can do anything it likes and whatever it does is fine and adorable. Okay, your dog is adorable and everything, but give non-dog owners the courtesy and the space to allow them the feeling that your dog is not the most wonderful creature in the world, human or otherwise. Perhaps the second most wonderful creature, but maybe not the first.
"Be afraid of my dog or he/she can eat you." This is a different kind of attitude. These dog owners scowl and their dogs scowl along with them. The message is: Be very afraid of me and my dog. Only owners with huge beasts, that nearly tip the scale of what's allowed in ST/PCV, have this attitude. These owners tend to hook up with similar owners of big dogs. I pity the people who have to get into elevators with these residents, though my sense is that most of these owners are coming into ST/PCV from outside the complex.
And when it is that Tishman Speyer contacts dog owners to remind them about dog policies in the complex? Things are not in control here. The rules are being violated daily, hourly. (Not just the rules concerning dogs, of course, but dogs are the subject of this blog post.) What is TS going to do about these violations? If you guess not much of anything, you are correct.