Broke-Ass Fun: Dog-Watching (It’s Like Bird Watching, But Way Less Lame)

Living in a big city can be a major bummer.  There’s the lack of nature, the competition, the depressing drain on your finances.  It totally sucks.  But instead of getting wrapped up in your status anxiety and your rapidly depleting bank account, why don’t you embrace the most innocent, spirit-lifting and totally FREE form of entertainment that urban dwelling has to offer?  I’m talkin’ ‘bout dog-watching!  It’s just like bird watching, except way less lame.  NYC and SF both offer an abundance of perky pooches, cute canines, and dorky doggies– who smile, wag their tails, and make you feel good about yourself even when you make corny alliterative jokes.  There’s no joy greater, or cuter, than Man’s Best Friend– which is why you should take to the streets and  hobnob with your city’s finest canines.

Of course, actually like, owning a dog is a major responsibility– food, vet visits, and obedience-classes-to-get-that-dirty-little-ankle-biter-to-stop-pissing-on-your-pillow can cost you a pretty penny (which you obviously don’t have).  This is why I’m suggesting dog-watching– a.k.a.  ogling other people’s dogs– then going home to selfishly watch a six hour Storage Wars marathon, eat ice cream, pass out in front of the TV, and not  have to worry about another living being besides yourself.  Dog-watching appeals to the selfish man-baby in all of us.

So how exactly does one enter into the exciting world of loitering on a bench and petting all of the  adorable dogs that pass by?  Well, you do just that– find a dog-friendly place to park it, and let the squeal-inducing cuteness come to you.  My personal favorite places to dog-watch are Tompkins Square Park, the Williamsburg Waterfront, and the benches in front of Blue Bottle Coffee, but I’m sure that you can scout some dog-heavy areas in your ‘hood as well.

Once you’ve secured your dog-watching post and a sassy chihuahua in a sweater trots on by, you may be a little overwhelmed by the insane levels of cuteness that you witness.  You may feel the desire to spring forth from your perch and pet that bug-eyed alien-puppy.  You may even have the urge to pick it up and cuddle it, maybe even nuzzle your nose into its chest and whisper, “I love you” into its tiny, velvety ear.  Just remember to ask the owner first–  believe it or not, some dogs don’t like strangers coming at them with cartoon hearts shooting out of their eyes.  Also, some owners are assholes and don’t want you to touch their dogs just cuz.  In this case, you wait ‘til they tie them up and go inside a store, then take tons of pictures of the pup to gaze at for all eternity, like my friend Heather and I did with this cocker spaniel that looks like President Andrew Jackson:

Dog-watching not only sends your cuteness endorphins into high gear, it’s also educational.  Have you ever seen dog shows like Westminster or American Kennel Club, or at least the glorious movie Best in Show?  Dog shows are campy, ridiculous, and completely clueless about their own hilariousness.  I’m not saying that you have to wear one of those pastel-colored skirt-suits with nude ‘hose and running shoes or anything, but why not bring some dog show outlandishness to your own dog-watching sesh?  Learn about the different dog breeds, then throw down some trivia about the canines that you see in your neighborhood: “Schipperkes?  Oh, they were bred to kill rats on boats,” or, “Don’t let those fancy hairstyles fool you– standard poodles are the second smartest dog breed.”  Okay, maybe this only sounds fun to a nerd like me, but  we’ll see who has the last laugh when I tell you that I once scored a job by telling my boss that her Irish setter was stupid (the breed, that is).

But, as I can personally only hope, beauty is not all about pedigree.  Sometimes, even scruffy mutts have a certain “It factor.”  Half of the fun of dog-watching is pretending that you are a sweaty NYC construction worker, and “cat-calling” (dog-calling?) all of the pretty pooches that stroll by, purebred or not.   “Ooh, I like that smile!” or “Look at that wag, girl!” are perfect come-ons for the toothy Rottweiler-mix strutting by.  For those of you who aren’t as wholly affected by cute dogs as I am, this might seem majorly creepy.  You’re right.  To you normals, I say: try scoping the dog owners instead.  Owning a dog, caring for animals, and being responsible are desirable traits that your Craigslist hookup probably doesn’t possess– simply put, dog owners are husband or wifey material.  So when you see crucial babe holding that leash, it’s time to turn on the charm.  Just don’t cat-call a human, because they will probs snap your photo and post it on Hollaback! with the other sexual harassers.

Once you’ve become a seasoned dog-watcher, you should stop thinking about yourself for a minute (I know, it’s hard), and give back to your community.  Shelters like BARC in Brooklyn need volunteers to walk the dogs up for adoption– this is an excellent way to help a puppy out, and get your dog fix without actually having to commit to owning a pet.  Also, it solidifies your own status as husband or wifey material–  when you walk a dog, people often stop you to pet it and talk with you– this is prime time to bat those lashes and prune those lips, all while talking about what an animal lover you are.

Dog-watching is fun, an easy way to meet sexy singles, requires no effort, and– best of all–  is completely FREE.  Basically, dogs are the solution to any problem.  Dogs are the key to world peace.  Dogs are, without a doubt, the best creatures on this green Earth (or, more specifically, in this filthy urban hellhole).  Next time you’re feeling down, take a trip to the dog park– watching the cute labradors play fetch, the goofy basset hounds rolling around in the dirt, and the yorkies humping each other, you’ll discover the meaning of true bliss.

Photo credits: Lemmemakeit, Heather Encinas

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About the author

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food, but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends to have a flair for the dramatic.