And we’re not just talking people who own townhouses where the dogs can run about. Condos and walk-ups across Hell’s Kitchen are packed with miniature dogs whose owners baby them in the most eyebrow-raising ways. I can’t get in the elevator in my building without encountering little dogs (sporting this season’s sweaters for the cold weather) being taken out to the local dog-run by their owners.
The obsession among the singletons of Manhattan with dogs-as-surrogate-babies means that the pet support industry is huge here. Dog walkers, dog groomers and vets make a pretty penny out of the spoilt mutts of Manhattan. You can even get dog-food deliveries, for goodness sake, from stores like the one in the photo (shop name says it all).
The pampering extends even to being walked. The other day, I saw a woman out in Tenth Avenue walking her two little dogs. Well, I say ‘walking’, but she was actually pushing one of them along in a pushchair (or ‘stroller’ as they call it here). Likewise, I also saw a man pulling his bulldog along on a skateboard near 34th Street. I mean, honestly.
I asked one of my New Yorker colleagues why so many people in Manhattan seem to own dogs. His guess is that it’s because the City is full of lonely people who turn to their toy dogs for unconditional love and companionship. If that’s true, then the sheer number of four-legged friends out there means there are a hell of a lot of lonely people squished onto this island.