Hello, friendly dog owner, innocently walking your furry friend down the street (getting in those steps!). It’s nice to meet you! My name is Alli, and I’m the person who’ll stop you on the street and swoon over your pet when you were simply trying to go about your day. And if you don’t happen to live in my Brooklyn neighborhood, then I represent that local dog fangirl you run into every day. You know who I’m talking about because there’s one of us in every city.
Yes, I’m that girl. The one who’s been known to cross a busy street to pet an adorable puppy, almost certainly distracting them from their all-important potty training in the process. Over the years I’ve developed the quirky habit of quietly asking a dog directly what their name is, so as to avoid making eye contact with its assumingly annoyed owner. I’m the girl reaching her hand out longingly to pet a Golden Retriever as we pass each other on the sidewalk. Recently, I spotted one of my favorite canine Instagram personalities at the airport and legitimately started shaking with excitement. For the record, I was asked to hold her for that photo. And why was I the only one who recognized her? Honestly.
I’m making all of these embarrassing admissions because I know I’m not the only one (cue Sam Smith). Among my friends — most of whom live in cities, or in apartments that are less than dog-friendly — this borderline obsession is far from rare. I struggle every day to strike the right balance of maturity as an urban 20-something, to make responsible decisions, and to be self-aware enough to steer clear of things that don’t make sense given my current circumstances. I’ve opted to start my adult life in New York City, a so-called “concrete jungle” that may or may not be the ideal setting to have a pet. More and more, my husband and I feel like we might be ready to finally bring a dog into our increasingly stable home, but the decision is a complicated one. So, in the meantime, is it really so wrong for me to be a little extra friendly to the pups I meet on the street? Is it acceptable for me to spend a little more time than might be necessary back-stalking my fave four-legged social media stars?
So to those dear dog owners, I assure you that I am not the equivalent of a creep in a van, trying to lure your (fur) children with candy. My advances toward your respective Fidos truly come from a place of love. At one point, my feelings toward animals were nothing but sweet. Recently though, I’ve begun to feel conflicted about whether it makes sense for me to join the ranks of pet ownership, and I worry that the way I relate to random dogs has turned potentially creepy.
Bringing home a pet is a major undertaking, and thanks to the increasing movement toward “adopt don’t shop,” I think that millennials (myself included) are taking the decision all the more seriously. If you’re brave enough to have taken the leap already, I know I speak for the rest of us when I say that we appreciate your patience as we borrow your real-life teddy bears for a momentary squeeze here and there. Thanks for not calling the puppy police on us (seriously, how cute would that be?).
We dog-less dog lovers need to stick together. We need to be positive representatives of the sisterhood — friendly, but not threatening; loving, but not lusty. We need to resist the urge to “do too much.” I, for one, could probably give up that whole petting-a-dog-in-passing thing. I’m going to work on it, I promise.
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(Photos via Getty)