The Downtowner - Episode 07: Downtown Cleveland's Going to the Dogs
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From a young age, I had heard that dogs could smell fear. But it was my lack of fear of Peaches the Beagle that prompted her to bite me.
I was twelve, and hanging out with my friend Chris. Peaches was in her dog house in Chris' backyard. I wanted to pet her. I marched right up to her.
"Don't, Amy, Peaches bites!" Chris warned. I waved her off. I wasn't afraid of chubby little Peaches. Why should I be? We had cats, dogs, gerbils, hamsters, a boa constricter and mice at any given time in the Eddings family household. I understood animals. I was magic. I was a dog whisperer like Cesar Millan, decades before he became a TV star and a household name.
Chris, I thought, you don't understand. Peaches and I....we got this.
Come meet us at PechaKucha Night Cleveland, Sept. 28!
Peaches jumped up, put her front paws on my knees and sunk her teeth into my right thigh. So much for my vaunted ability to read animals.
Scott Purdum of Evolution Canine told me I should always ask a dog's human first before approaching the pup for a pet. He offers a lot of other tips in this episode focusing on the dogs of Downtown Cleveland.
There's no real way to quantify how many dogs now live with their owners in Downtown Cleveland's growing number of residential apartments. A spokeswoman for Cuyahoga County, which issues dog licenses, said in an email there are 820 licensed dogs in Cleveland, "but, as you know," she added, "there are probably many more not licensed." A glance at the list shows quite an electic mix, just in my and George's 44113 ZIP Code alone: Peanut, a German Shepherd mix; Gypsy Rose, an Italian greyhound; Cinnamon, a puffy little Pomeranian; Cody, a Shiba Inu; Lilly, a towering Irish wolfhound.
We have, however, tried to quantify how many amenities there are in Downtown Cleveland serving these city dogs. Our interactive Google map, below, shows popular dog walking sites downtown, dog supply stores and nearby veterinarians. (I say "nearby" because there aren't any vets in Downtown Cleveland, to my and George's consternation. The nearest is across the Cuyahoga River, in the Near West Side neighborhood of Tremont.)
The map also provides information on the pet policies of the apartment buildings downtown, from weight restrictions to the price of non-refundable pet deposits. Some will charge a monthly "pet rent" per animal. Some just charge one monthly fee, regardless of whether you have one pet or two. Most of the newer buildings, like ours, Worthington Yards, have a dog yard and a dog washing station.
Greg Deming, our building manager, tells George and I in the podcast that pets are a "part of the family," deserving of their own place for a wash-n'-blow-dry. Increasingly, Americans believe their dog or cat is deserving of even more. There are cat cafes, like Eat Purr Love in Columbus, and dog restaurants like the Barking Dog in New York City. Veterinarians are touting high-tech services like stem cell therapy for Rover's osteoarthritis and chemotherapy for Fluffy's fibrosarcoma. Pet resorts and boutique hotels offer dog yoga, dog apparel and lap pools. Neutered males are getting outfitted with Neuticles, plastic testicles that its inventor, Gregg A. Miller, told The New York Times maintain a pet's "dignity and self-esteem."
Come meet us at PechaKucha Night Cleveland, Sept. 28th!
Clearly, dog parks and wash stations are the least we can do for our increasingly pampered "fur babies."
Such amenities are also good money-makers. Last year Americans spent $69.5 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. That's not counting pet fees charged by landlords. Greg Deming told us 30 to 40 percent of our building's 98 units have dogs or cats. At $35 a month in pet rent, totaling $420 a year, that adds up to more than $12,000 a year in pet-related fees for our landlord. I'm guessing that pet washing station will be paid for in a year or two.
I may not be able to smell fear, the way a dog can, but I can smell money. And my nose is leading me straight to Peaches. I'll approach her with a little more reverence this time. I don't have any magic, but she sure does.