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Small dog, big city

New York is well known as one of the most dog-friendly cities in America. There are pet boutique’s, daycare’s, groomers and gyms galore. I’ve found veterinarians on every block surrounding my apartment, and even nearby children’s stores with dog clothing available. Like major cities in California, New York even has specific restaurants and supermarkets known for welcoming, and likely spoiling, patrons’ dogs. Tourists and locals alike are surprised by the constant passing of all different breeds and the uniquely common dog walkers with up to eight, maybe ten, leashed pups at a time. Best of all rescue dogs are more popular than leggings and I feel safe guesstimating we have the most three-legged canines concentrated in any one area.

New York City dogs are one of a kind as a result of these circumstances. They’re uniquely tolerant of sirens, crowds and general chaos; they wear clothes out of necessity not as accessories, and (worst of all) they’re comfortable with cement toilets. Not only do city dogs routinely pee on sidewalks; they’ve all pooped in the middle of a crosswalk and held up traffic at one point or another. I can’t even speculate whether the owner/walker or dogs themselves are most humbled in those moments. These city dog characteristics are distinctive to puppies born and/or raised here though, and the high dog-friendly rating means nothing to Nugget. All Nugget knows is that this place is loud, scary and cold, but it’s where he found his mommy again.

If you’ve ever met Nugget you know that “attached” is an understatement merely hinting at the nature of our relationship. I blame his obsession with me on a traumatizing puppy-hood incident that involved two broken legs, but in reality I babied him for way too long (and still do). When he arrived on Thursday after his first flight experience he was so doped out on Xanax he couldn’t see anything, and when he realized who I was hours later his delayed over-reaction consisted of nonstop face licking and cries of joy. Since then we’ve had to continually leave him in my apartment while we explore or eat. He came in the one season porches aren’t open for dogs, and even if they were, his coldest winter was in Nashville.

Teaching a suburban dog city tricks is no easy task; I’ve worried it might even be cruel, and Nugget was hard enough to train in the first place. I shudder at the thought of taking back two years of harping on the golden rule: grass is the only appropriate place for you to potty. Far more worrisome is Nugget’s former phase of running down the middle of Granny White Pike where friendly Southerners in no rush whatsoever would stop traffic to rescue him, call me, and bring him home. Even a Tennessean can guess how that scenario would play out in NYC pretty accurately.

To my enormous surprise Nugget caught on instantly though. Well, for the first 24 hours he wouldn’t eat or go potty probably out of revenge for being drugged and transported in a mesh bag, but our joyous reunion’s worn his obstinacy down one hand-fed bit of dog chow at a time. On his second walk to the nearby dog park he finally liberated his stubborn bladder, and on the way back had to “go number two” on the cement against his will out of necessity. He seemed as pleasantly surprised at the painlessness of the procedure as I was at how soon it came about. He pranced home with evident pride in his adorable little puppy-p-coat and ceased shivering from the cold in his hurry.

Three days later Nug’s grown to love the park and recognize our walk there. He’d much rather be held than be forced to mingle with unfamiliar counterparts, but (like me) he’ll make friends in due time. We’ve even got him using crosswalks on his own four feet; I only pick him up when a block is so overcrowded trampling becomes a realistic threat. Last night my mom walked into a grocery store through automatic sliding doors and Nugget went as crazy as he does when he’s left in the car. He made quite a commotion, so I paced outside the store with him, and he observed every person that walked in and out. Once he understood the system he walked right over to the door and balanced on his hind legs confident it would open for him, but to no avail. Nugget has no idea he’s a dog.

With a healthy walking routine and plenty of park dates Nug will feel right at home in no time. As for me, I’m no natural at picking up his little “nugget’s” with plastic bags when they drop. Talk about a cruel transition.

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