Besides putting a smile on my face, dogs help me understand how much I'd probably enjoy living in a place. When I see dogs out on the town, it demonstrates that residential areas are within walking distance of the town centre and that the sidewalk pace is easy enough to accommodate those with curious noses and no pocket watch. That particular environment is appealing to me. Others prefer Manhattan crowds or solitary countryside, but if I had my choice, it would be a tree-lined walk to a bustling market street.
The reason I'm able to use dogs as a kind of personal litmus test on the atmosphere of a place is that what is good for dog walking in the city is generally pretty good for everyone. Understandably, not everyone loves dogs and there are serious challenges that come along with ~33% of Canadians having one in the household. The point here is not that dogs are the salvation of the city, but that in my experience, the dog-friendliness of a place is an indicator for a number of other great urban attributes (physical and social). Additionally, I think dog walkers can be seen as a resource to jump-start activity on a street or boost foot traffic to local shops. My logic goes like this:
- People out walking and lingering in the street is critical to a great urban environment;
- Dog owners are routinely out walking and meeting strangers with their dogs;
- By giving people somewhere to walk to, you can attract those dog walkers to central places that most benefit from people milling around.
This video digs into the love triangle between dog owners, dogs, and the city. It's also a way to fulfill my promise of more Rufus footage to a few loyal viewers. I hope you'll forgive the extra length given that it's full of adorable.
Somewhat unrelated, but I'm not allowed to adopt a dog in my current apartment so if you live in downtown Fredericton (southside, east) and have a friendly pet that could use an extra walk now and again, please get in touch. See? Dogs. Social catalyst.
The article I mention:
Here are a few handy academic papers.
An overview of the research on benefits of dog ownership:
Dogs as a social catalyst:
Neighbourhood design and dog walking behaviour: