The recent weather in New York has been an inconvenience to residents of the city to say the least. Public transportation delays, slippery sidewalks, and closures have left citizens frustrated and upset. But the weather hasn’t just affected people—it’s also had an impact on dogs.
Neighborhood dog owners, businesses, and shelters have come across many issues the snow and ice have caused. Lauren Fusco, a kennel worker at BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition), said that in terms of the snow, dogs’ reactions are divided. “Some of the dogs really love the snow so it’s just a lot of fun taking them out. They just want to play in it and roll around and they have a blast,” she said. “But there are a bunch of dogs who don’t like the snow. It’s just really hard for them and they want to go back inside.”
BARC relies on its volunteers to assist with dog walking, and Fusco said they have been coming out in smaller numbers. On Saturdays, one of the most popular days for volunteering, usually 10 to 15 volunteers show up. Lately, it’s been more like eight or nine. In better weather, the coalition sees five or six volunteers showing up during the week, but only two or three have been coming out.
Priti Punjabi, owner of Dog Addiction on 243 Berry Street, said that business has been negatively affected by the storms. The doggy day care has seen a decline “because clients are less enticed to walk their dogs to the center,” she said. There has been an increase in dog walks from home, but “these really don’t cut it socially.”
Stressing that dogs are like humans and get depressed in the winter, Punjabi said that the biggest problem for pets is lack of exercise and play with other companions. “It’s important to keep your dog socialized in the winter. Just a few months with lack of socialization and they develop a bit of anti-social tendencies.”
Sean Gillion owns Action Pack Dog Walkers, a business that has been serving the neighborhood for six years. He said that warehouses in Williamsburg with 200-yard stretches in front of them have been hard to get to with all the ice. The salt on the ground has also interfered with walks. “Salt irritates the dogs to the point where I’ve seen paws bleeding,” he said. “Some dogs are more sensitive than others but it really does burn.” Punjabi recommended for residents to use blue salt instead, which doesn’t hurt the dogs.
Even with all the obstacles, Gillion said his business tries to operate on a normal schedule. “If the snow’s coming down and it’s windy and hard for walkers to get from place to place, sometimes we’ll shorten the schedule to make sure no dog is waiting for us to arrive,” he said.
Dog owner Jessica Kelley has come across issues when trying to walk her dog Moe, a pug and Coton de Tulear mix. “Moe loves running in the snow, however, he can’t really walk or do much else in it because he has short legs,” she said. “If he’s not running [or] leaping, he’s sinking.”
Kelley said that she’s been walking her dog less and using puppy pads more because Moe comes back filthy from the slush. But, he is overall acting positively towards the weather, she said. “When there’s snow, Moe leaps around like a bunny and comes in with mini snowballs stuck to his legs. Additionally, [he] likes it when you kick snow at his face because he likes to try and catch it in his mouth. The snow is more of an inconvenience to us than to him.”
Poppa and Lilly, two Staffordshire Bull Terriers belonging to Eddie Mackenzie of Bushwick, love the snow according to their owner. “When Poppa and Lilly see snow they get very excited,” said McKenzie. “The snow is no problem for me when I walk them. If anything, they’re pulling me through it.”
Kait Blehm, the owner of Ginger, a standard poodle, said her dog has had a similar reaction. She’s been walking her puppy the same amount, six times a day, even with all the snow and ice on the ground. Ginger doesn’t mind, and neither does Blehm. She sees the weather as a way to get out of the house. “It’s nice to be walking her more,” Blehm said. “We’ve discovered her inner polar bear.”