Three of my favorite places in town are not dog-friendly.
The Ithaca Commons is our local pedestrian mall—open-air, no cars, unique shops. What’s not to love? No dogs allowed, that’s what.
Stewart Park is a lovely place to picnic on the edge of Cayuga Lake. It’s a short walk from my house. The weeping willows frame gorgeous views up the lake. But I rarely go there. They don’t allow dogs.
The Ithaca Farmer’s Market is the place to go on summer weekends to get your macrobiotic corn fritters, mizuna, and locally made hard cider. During the height of the season, the traffic leads you to expect the Giants and the Eagles on a gridiron, not a gathering of farmers and crafts people.
So I get it. I would never bring my dog into the crush of people at the market where she could get hurt.
But the Farmer’s Market is only crazy busy during the summer. And the “No Dogs Allowed” sign is up all year around.
Why don’t people understand that allowing polite dogs and their people access will save the world?
Dogs Save the World.
Here’s my brief and woefully incomplete list of how dogs and their people save the world.
1. Eyes on the Street.
If you walk some suburban neighborhoods at night, the only sights you’ll see are the ominous glow of a blue television screen through the window and an occasional dog walker. Yep, dogs and their people are the only creatures protecting your stuff when you go on vacation.
2. Lower Gas Prices.
If it weren’t for dog walkers, we’d pay more for gas.
Here’s how I figure it. Seventy percent of American’s car trips are less than two miles long according to the oft-cited but never attributed statistic. Two miles or less is a reasonable walk for a large dog. So when a family runs out of milk, needs to mail a package, or has late DVDs to drop off, why take the car? We’ll just walk the dog and get two chores done at once.
That decision by millions of dog walkers all over the world decreases the demand for fossil fuels. And lower demand keeps prices down.
Ok, I’m no economist. But it’s my blog and I’m sticking with it.
3. Protection from E. coli and Salmonella.
Have you ever hung out where Canada geese have set up headquarters? It’s disgusting.
Bend, Oregon had such trouble with geese in their parks they began killing them.
4. Keep Health Care Costs Down.
WebMD created a slide show of 27 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health. Benefits of having an animal companion include lowered blood pressure, greater bone density from walking, and lower rates of depression.
And if people can improve their health with diet, exercise, and an animal friend, that will lower health care costs that we all share through insurance or national health services.
I say fewer drugs and more dogs!
5. Benefit Nesting Birds.
Birds are an integral part of our ecosystem. They aid in pollination, keep insect and rodent populations under control, and provide food for larger predators.
Thank goodness we have dogs to benefit our backyard nesting birds.
When I groom Honey, her stray fur ends up in the compost pile. During nesting season, that hair will be gone within the hour. I like the notion that Honey’s fur is nurturing young nestlings. And I love that it’s not sticking to my clothing, furniture, and my lips.
The World Without Dogs
Without dogs, the world would be a pretty dreary place. A world without dogs would also be more expensive, less healthy, and suffering from a lack of biodiversity.
So give your pooch a smooch. And thank her for protecting us from a postapocalyptic hell the likes of which have never been seen on earth.
Something Wagging Train Your Dog Month Challenge
It’s not too late to celebrate Train Your Dog month with us. Because the goal isn’t to meet some really tough challenge but just to enjoy learning something new with your dog.
And if that’s not cool enough, you might be chosen at random to get a $50 donation to your favorite animal welfare cause.
Here’s how you can join the fun:
- Grab the badge in the sidebar to let us know you’re in.
- Stop by Something Wagging anytime between January 31 and February 7 to share your blog post about your training challenge with your dog (or bird or cat or rat or whomever) via a linky list.
- Don’t have a blog? No problem. You still have 3 ways to enter:
I hope lots of people will join us. Whether you’re teaching your dog to load the dishwasher or just working on having him accept the nail trimmers without panic, the time you spend will strengthen your bond. And maybe, just maybe, save the world.