Since we’ve lived on the boat, we’ve only traveled as far as one long car trip. But I’ve already seen big differences in the way people treat dogs from one place to the next.
What is your town’s dog culture? And is it hurting your dog?
You can’t visit my old home town, Ithaca, New York without soon seeing a common bumper sticker.
No, not “visualize whirled peas.” But you will see that a lot.
Nope, the one I’m talking about is “Ithaca, NY: Ten square miles surrounded by reality.”
Ithaca is atypical.
It has more vegetarians and vegans than average. It has one of the highest rates of solar panel installations in the country (despite having over 200 cloudy days a year).
And in an election where most people were deciding between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Ithaca voted for Ralph Nader.
It also has an interesting dog culture.
Ithaca is the site of the country’s first open admission, no-kill shelter under the leadership of Nathan Winograd. It has one of the best veterinary training programs in the country at Cornell University.
And Ithacans, for the most part, take good care of their dogs.
On the rare occasion we saw an off-leash dog, we generally found a person who was worried sick or traveling around the neighborhood calling their dog’s name after he snuck out of the house.
I rarely saw dog waste left behind.
But in other ways, the dog culture stank.
Although Ithaca has an outdoor, pedestrian mall, it bans dogs. They’re also barred from the outdoor farmer’s market (although to be fair, the Ithaca Farmer’s Market is so crowded it’s not safe for dogs to walk there. Or short humans.)
Several stores had signs specifically banning dogs after bad experiences with thoughtless owners.
And we met our share of clueless people who wanted their barking, snarling dogs to meet Honey because “Fifi loves to play with other dogs.”
Good times. Good times.
I’d give Ithaca a solid B for dog culture.
What Is Dog Culture
From my Ithaca example, you probably have an idea of what I mean by dog culture.
I rate a community’s dog culture by the following features:
- Availability of helpful institutions, like hospitals and shelters
- Access to caring dog professionals, like trainers and groomers
- Recreational facilities for dogs and their people, like parks and events
- Pet friendly businesses
And most importantly,
- People who care for their own dogs responsibly and respect the needs of other dogs around them.
In fact, while all a dog culture’s features relate, nothing makes a bigger difference in how comfortable you and your dog feel out in the world than the last one.
I don’t feel great sitting in a dog friendly restaurant after passing a pooping dog whose person fails to clean up.
Nothing will ruin a nice trip to the park faster than seeing a lab lurching around the back of a pick up truck driving 50 miles an hour.
And your town’s dog culture stinks if you can’t go for a walk without being rushed by rude, off-leash dogs.
If your dog is fearful and you have to be hyper vigilant to protect her from rude dogs or people, your town’s dog culture might be hurting your dog.
If Your Town’s Dog Culture Is Hurting Your Dog
You have two options if your town’s dog culture is hurting your dog:
- change the culture
Neither option is easy. But they aren’t impossible either.
I have a few ideas for how to tell if a town you’re thinking of moving to has a good dog culture.
I even have a few suggestions for how to improve your current town’s dog culture.
But I’m going to share them in a separate post on Thursday.
In the meantime, tell me in the comments how good you think the dog culture of your community is and how you think it could do better.
Pet Traveler Trash Talk
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Charleston, South Carolina to be chosen as the Best City For Pet Travelers in the Go Pet Friendly brackets.
I admit it. My competitive side is coming out.
The normal “why can’t we all get along” side of my personality goes into hiding while I feel an undeniable urge to talk a little trash against Charleston’s
hapless victim estimable opponent, Port St. Joe, Florida.
You may not realize it, but Charleston is the underdog here.
You see, Port St. Joe won as 2015’s Best City For Pet Travelers. This despite having a population of less than 4000 and little going on except for some waterfront dives and a pet friendly beach.
I’m not suggesting there was vote fraud. But I did hear a suspicious rumor about manatees being seen at the polling station.
Just saying. 😉
But don’t believe me. I’ve only visited Charleston.
So if you want to vote for a positive dog culture that lasts all year-long, vote for Charleston for Best City For Pet Travelers.
You can only vote once in each round. And it won’t take a minute.
Your Turn: How is your town’s dog culture? Could it be better? How?