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Hiking with Dogs

By Amy Fernandez

The great thing about dogs is that they never judge us. No matter how irrational or pointless human behavior becomes, our faithful companions remain content to go along for the ride. Martinis for breakfast? Excellent idea! Timeshare in the Everglades? Let’s pack!

I don’t know if you can actually accuse them of enabling inadvisable ideas. On the other hand, you definitely cannot rely on them to draw the line- ever…no matter how far downstream things may progress. That attitude sort of invites any situation to get more extreme, especially when dogs are directly involved. And here in NYC, where extreme has always been the status quo, it’s bound to get weird.

We know all about the urban dog lifestyle with its daycare programs, managed weekend activities, nannies, dog walkers, fashion galas etc. As if all that’s not bad enough, we now have weekly doggy hiking excursions. Yes, a professional doggy tour guide will peel lazy, old Fido off of your sofa and for a mere $130 drive him up to Bear Mountain or some similarly rustic environment and, well…do what you are supposed to do when you have a dog;let it off the lead to run around for awhile. Obviously the dogs like it; after all they have been reveling in this exact dog/owner bonding experience forever.

The article, which recently headlined a NYT Sunday special section, went on to quote owners about the incalculable value of this indulgent, ludicrously expensive program. Who knew? Dogs like running around in the woods. That’s why we hire experts.

By way of background info, the article outlined the demanding daily routines of these CEOs and venture capitalists that simply don’t allow for the luxury of doggy downtime. A few cynics might ask why anyone in that position would contemplate pet ownership. But the reality is that most people work and that shouldn’t preclude the joy of coming home to a dog. Regardless of what some hardliners may believe, these concepts are not mutually incompatible. The actual issue, of course, is the nature of the beast awaiting your homecoming.

And I personally can attest to the fact that plenty of dogs will happily spend their lives as lazy layabouts. The harsh truth is that only one daily activity truly matters in their universe and that’s the timely arrival of dinner. But let’s face it; those sorts of dogs are not cool. A trendy lifestyle requires a big, dashing, action-packed dog- then you figure out a workaround for the studio flat and ten hour workday. (This is the same line of thinking explaining those legions of shaved down, double-coated dogs marching around Central Park decked out in fleecy thermal vests and fur-lined boots.)

The evident question is why bother having a dog at all if every aspect of its life is outsourced to surrogate management teams? Yes, the whole thing is a bit ridiculous, but these well meaning owners clearly care about their pets’ welfare, so where is the harm?

Then I read a little more of the story and got to the part about the “pawrent teacher conference” evenings.  Sort of like PTA meetings where all the owners and hiking counselors get together to visit and discuss the benefits of this innovative form of “canine self-care” that none of them actually do. Despite that tiny issue, they all provided enthusiastic quotes for the article extolling the physical and psychological benefits of this invigorating, back to nature program.

Now, there is definitely something amiss with this picture. But, hey, the owners can afford it, the dogs love it, and when they get home to their “cramped city apartments” I can tell you exactly what they’re thinking- there’s a sucker born every minute.

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Posted by on Dec 31 2018. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • August 2019