The Great Lawn in Central Park became the Great Doggie Lawn…
For four days after the Global Citizens Concert, the fence around the great lawn was left down…and the dogs moved in.
I swear I could hear all the dogs say, “Best day EVER. And…why not every day?”
Those dogs have a good question. Why not every day?
Our dogs are no longer just pets. We know the power and pervasiveness of the human-animal bond that we have with our dogs.
Our dogs sleep in our beds, sit on our couches, comfort us when we cry, make us laugh when we most need it. They visit strangers in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc., to bring joy and therapy. They work to find, support, and guide their humans as various working and service dogs.
Don’t they deserve some of the fifty-five acres of the Great Lawn more often than just by accident after concerts.
I would imagine that morning dog-play won’t tear up the lawn any more than these huge concerts or any more than hundreds (if not thousands) of baseball cleats do every weekend during the season.
These four days when it was the Great Doggie Lawn were a civilized gift for dogs and their humans who live in an often emotionally and physically challenging city.
Why can’t the Central Park Conservancy give that gift more often by opening up the Great Lawn and other baseball lawns for dogs and humans, even if only occasionally throughout the year?
We adapted during the pandemic, and some of those adaptations turned out to be a good thing, like remote dog training.
“How is that good?” you might ask.
There are certain situations where my being in-person for an initial session would interfere with the process…
For example a dog who is afraid of strangers or aggressive with new people would not be well served by my walking into their home. In these cases, my presence only causes your dog more stress (and probably you, too).
If your dog spends the majority of an in-person session barking at me, it limits what we can do. However if we meet remotely first, I can craft management strategies and training techniques for you to begin working on so that when I do arrive in-person for the follow-up session, you and your dog will be less stressed, ready to work and I will be able to see how the process is progressing.
For all behavioral issues, the use of videos on zoom allows us to watch together as I identify and show you your dog’s body language. This is indescribably enlightening and usually very difficult to see in real life.
I can also watch how you work with your dog without my presence getting in the way.
It doesn’t matter if your dog wants to eat me or play with me, my presence changes their behavior dramatically.
Many of my clients started with a remote session and happily continued that way. Some have done a blended series of sessions, starting with remote and following up with in-person and remote as needed.
During the pandemic, separation anxiety issues floated to the top of the list of behavioral issues for a lot of households.
I have worked fully remotely with some separation anxiety clients, and some have done the blended approach which allows us to check in frequently for very short sessions that are not practical in-person.
Some of the most fun I’ve ever had with clients is remotely walking them through a skill they thought they couldn’t teach their dog. By the end, we are all cheering and laughing because it’s like playing remote twister. And the dog not knowing what just happened is still thrilled by the treats and laughter.
Some more logistical reasons remote is good:
As a working mother of a child with special needs, remote sessions allow me to meet with more clients, offering easier scheduling than in-person.
Because I don’t have to travel for remote sessions, the cost of a remote session is less than in-person.
No matter where you live, we can set up remote sessions. I’ve been able to work with clients from Paris, to Chicagoland, Connecticut, Texas, California, and even Australia.
And because there are so many pandemic dogs and families who need help, remote sessions help us all manage the larger demand.
And if you are looking for a Subject Matter Expert on kids and dogs and/or special needs kids and dogs, you may need to reach beyond local trainers. I can now offer that speciality to anyone anywhere.
My phone says it’s 87 degrees as I type this on June 20, 2021, 3pm. (Just wait until July and August…)
This afternoon I was walking south on Amsterdam Avenue when I saw a cute fluffy dog headed north. We were both waiting for the light to change at Ninety Seventh Street. The dog caught my eye because it was wearing a head halter and if those are too tight, a dog can’t pant correctly which is a problem in the heat. But that seemed fine and the dog was panting appropriately.
Then I saw the feet. The dog stood on the dark asphalt waiting for the light to change then began to lift one paw up off the pavement, then rotated to the next, and the next until the light changed. At that point the dog hopped like a person walking across hot sand. The owner was not paying attention and was unaware of her dog’s discomfort.
The Vets-Now website has an article outlining the dangers of hot pavement and just how hot is hot…
If the outside temperature is a pleasant 25C (77F), there’s little wind and humidity is low, asphalt and tarmac can reach a staggering 52C (125F).
This can rise to 62C (143F) when the mercury hits 31C (87F).
It’s worth bearing in mind that an egg can fry in five minutes at 55C (131F) while skin destruction can occur in just one minute at 52C (125F).
Iain Harrison Iain is Vets Now’s senior communications manager.
What to do?
Go out early.
Go out late.
If you have to go out in the heat of the day – be quick about it.
Look for the shade, and don’t have your dog standing on the dark asphalt.
Luckily for Pax’e, I don’t tolerate the heat well, so she is always hiding with me from the sun in the shade of buildings, trees, scaffolding, and awnings while we avoid the dark asphalt like it’s flowing lava. Another lucky break for Pax’e is that her feet have long hair covering the foot pads. This can act as a kind of insulation against the heat of the street and it requires me to wipe/wash her feet every time we come in. She may disagree that the washing is a benefit, but it helps with cooling and lets me inspect her feet.
There are hosts of suggestions to be found online that offer remedies for dog’s feet on hot pavement. These can include booties, stickies, paw wax, and passive techniques like stay out of the sun, don’t stand on the dark asphalt with your dog, cool their feet when you come in. And…
…Pay attention to your dog’s behavior and believe what your dog is telling you.
Dante told us…
When NYC summers were too hot for him…
…he’d climb in the cool porcelain tub and fall asleep.
In January of 2020 I first wrote about Emma’s attacks on dogs of the Upper West Side.
In the time since, Emma has attacked other dogs, chasing one out of the park and across Central Park West. And again, Emma’s owner did nothing to stop her. Many participating in dog play groups have requested Emma not be allowed to assault their dogs. Because Emma’s owner refused to control her dog, a number of owners began to avoid these groups.
Pax’e and I have tried to avoid Emma’s aggression:
By altering our walking schedule
By going to different areas of Central Park and as a result we have missed seeing our friends in our usual locations
If I’ve seen Emma in the park, we have quickly turned and headed in the opposite direction
I choose high or open ground to let Pax’e play so I can see if Emma is coming – but…
Even with all these avoidance strategies in place, last week as Pax’e and I were getting ready for a ball toss west of the tennis courts at Ninety Sixth Street, I heard a growl coming at us from out of nowhere then saw Emma trying to grab Pax’e’s back end.
I had not seen Emma coming before she was biting Pax’e.
Emma was relentless. All I could do was keep twirling between Emma and Pax’e as Emma continued with multiple aggressive charges.
Emma finally backed down from me and my yelling at her with straight-on direct eye contact (not an advisable thing to do with an aggressing dog but there was nothing else).
Emma’s owner did not call Emma off of Pax’e and me. She did not try to intervene. She simply continued along the path without her dog.
Many of you don’t know that I walk with a cane and have had a number of falls this winter. Attacks like this not only put Pax’e at risk, but me as well.
Emma’s attacks put dogs and people at risk of physical harm and a kind of Dog-walking stress disorder where dog-walkers cannot have a peaceful walk in the park because they are in a heightened state of stress and arousal hoping they don’t run into Emma.
New York City dogs and their handlers have rights to be safe. They should be able to walk through parks without the threat of an unleashed aggressive dog attacking them because the dog’s handler does not care. No dog walker should leave their apartment wondering if the off-leash bully of the neighborhood is going to attack them.
More of us need to say something to Emma’s Cruell de Vil-ian mistress or Emma will continue to prevent those of us who have been attacked by Emma from having a simple peaceful walk in the park – or worse.