City Dog versus Country Dog

Brought to you by Kyle the human:

While I was growing up in the countryside of Pennsylvania, I always dreamed about living in the “big city” some day, and I assumed that would require giving up my love for animals.  I never imagined a dog could be happy without being surrounded by grass, but living in Chicago with Gatsby, my Weimaraner, has taught me that dogs can actually do more than survive in a city, they can thrive.

A city dog requires our company and attention every time he goes outside unlike the country dog who is often left out in the backyard to entertain himself alone and forgotten until he paws at the back door.

A city dog benefits from constant opportunities for socialization while a country dog might only encounter a handful of dogs in his lifetime.

Most city dogs I know enjoy the luxury of sleeping in bed with their owners and relaxing on furniture; my childhood dog was living in the lap of luxury when I filled his doghouse with straw in the winter for extra insulation.

And perhaps most importantly, especially in Chicago, a city dog can enjoy countless unique experiences with his owner like shopping on Michigan Avenue, scarfing up popcorn from the floor at dog-friendly bars, and shopping at multiple pet stores in a single day.  My childhood dog, Solomon, only ever visited the vet and the groomer.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going to make a case about dogs being human (please don’t tell Gatsby I said that), because I can’t tell you how disturbing I find it to see a dog dressed in clothing sharing an ice cream cone with his owner (I’ll cover all that in future posts, promise).  I will, however, argue that city dogs can be happier than country dogs not because they can do more human activities but because we are more obligated to include them in our lives.  Dogs are pack animals and prefer companionship; it’s much easier to develop a strong bond with a dog when you’re sharing a studio apartment 🙂

What Gatsby and I hope to share with you through this blog is ideas for ways that you can strengthen the bond with your dog.  Gatsby will provide his perspective on dog-friendly places in Chicago, and I will comment about how you can make a trip to that place a relationship-building experience.  And trust me, there are plenty of places to discover in Chicago.  So the next time someone says, “How do you live with a dog in that tiny apartment?” I want you to reply by saying, “we’re always outside exploring, and we only use our apartment for sleeping.”

I leave you with some tasty kibble about this great dog-friendly city we call home:

Number of restaurants with dog-friendly patios officially registered with the city: 93

Number of official dog-friendly areas within city limits: 20

Number of veterinary clinics within city limits: 189 (according to CVMA)

Number of miles of lakefront trail to enjoy with your dog: 18

The Chicago Transit Authority is dog-friendly if your pooch can fit in a carrier on your lap

Taxi drivers don’t have to pick you up with your dog, but most will

Chicago’s Most Popular Breeds according to the The American Kennel Club (2010)

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. German Shepherd Dog
  3. Golden Retriever
  4. Yorkshire Terrier
  5. Bulldog
  • The Windy City loves the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. While ranked 23rd nationally, the breed is Chicago’s 11th most beloved pooch.
  • The Shih Tzu entered the top ten, coming in 9th place and joining the Yorkshire Terrier as Chicago’s top toy breeds.
  • The Poodle and Beagle, both in the top ten nationally, tied for 15th place in Chicago.

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