Social Circle: is Milwaukee dog-friendly enough?
Welcome to a weekly segment called "Social Circle." It's a group effort between readers, social networkers and the OnMilwaukee.com editors. Every Monday, we ask a question via Facebook and Twitter and then post the responses from our Facebook "likers" and Twitter followers in this column. Well-known Milwaukee movers and shakers will contribute, too.
Milwaukee will soon get a new dog park in the Riverwest neighborhood. With that in mind, comes this week's Social Circle question, "Is Milwaukee dog-friendly enough?"
The responses took an interesting turn and the question generated a social media-based debate as to whether or not dogs should be allowed in public places, whether or not dogs can replace Prozac and whether or not dog lovers assume everyone's a dog lover.
Here is an edited portion of the thread and feel free to add your thoughts via the Talkback feature.
J.A. Arenas: "The near Downtown area where I live was recently redone with a new grassy area between the sidewalk and curb. Now when I open my front door I am greeted with the fresh daily smell of dog crap and pee. Just wonderful – especially in the summer – for me, my daughter and the two new restaurants on my block. Love dogs. Hate their selfish owners."
Pam Cake: "I'm not a dog owner but I think it's plenty dog friendly in Milwaukee. I see people with their dogs everywhere: bars, restaurants, fests. That being said, having so many dogs at festivals makes me a little uneasy. Some dogs don't handle noise and crowds well and when people are all crammed together at a street fest, the last thing I want is my six-year-old face-to-face with a stressed-out dog."
Jen Digate: "As a dog behaviorist I definitely agree that dogs shouldn't be taken to places that overwhelm them. But, as the devil's advocate, part of why dogs are stressed by some situations is precisely because they're novel. If you could bring your pup everywhere not much is new, stressful or too exciting to handle. In Europe, where dogs can go anywhere with their owners, the dogs are so well socialized and used to complex situations that it is simply a non-issue. So there's a bit of a chicken or the egg that goes on because we only allow our dogs certain places at certain times so it can be an overload."
Kay Erickson Ehlers: "I have no idea, but why is this even a topic of discussion? A dog is a pet; why should people be allowed to bring their pets everywhere? I don't want to go to a cafe and see dogs. My son is terrified of dogs and we run into them plenty as it is. The worst is people who let their dogs come close to him and say, 'Don't worry, she's friendly!' like that's the issue ... I find that part of the problem with this discussion is that some dog lovers don't understand that not everyone feels the same way they do about their dogs."
Kris Esser: "I drive down to Libertyville, Ill., to go to the dog park. It's huge, fully fenced with woods and a lake for my lab to explore. I'm glad that Milwaukee has some dog parks, but they are small and not enough to do for my active dog."
Kat Froehlich: "I could rant about my problem with our over-population of pit bulls among other breeds and people who don't pick up after their dogs and the lack of city garbage cans and people who don't use a leash and all the broken glass I have to carry my dog over ... I think it's a bit of a stretch to say a dog is 'much better than Prozac.' If someone has a chemical deficiency in their brain, a dog most likely won't cure it." (The last part of this comment is in response to a later comment in this thread.)
Jessica Hatch McCann: "I completely agree with Pam. I have dogs, own a dog-related business and think there are plenty of parks, stores, day cares, etc. for dogs. We don't have to bring them everywhere. And especially to events where they can be overwhelmed and stressed."
Denise Lubotsky: "I would have to say that Milwaukee is not dog friendly. First, if it were dog friendly, it would be easier to find a rental that doesn't charge an extra $75 per month for a dog. If it were dog friendly, we would be hearing about more people that can take their dog to work with them. I do think the city is getting better with its designated dog parks, that's a huge improvement. Part of the problem is the weather – because of the extended cold weather there isn't as much opportunity to sit at a cafe outdoors where one might bring their dog with them. Also, because Milwaukee is not much of a pedestrian city it changes the dynamic where people go from one place to the next bringing their dog with them."
I think Milwaukee is as dog friendly as it needs to be. I mean, it's not NOT dog friendly. As a dog owner, I am sensitive to areas that may overwhelm even the most laid back of dogs. No, we don't need to take them everywhere folks. I don't see why someone needs to drag their dog with them to a street festival for hours, for instance. You have to ask yourself who you are serving by doing that, as it's a bit selfish to me. As an animal owner, your dog's safety, comfort and welling being is what should drive your decisions regarding where to take them and when, not your own self indulgence. With that said, I see parents dragging their babies and toddlers to every store, festival, coffee shop and restaurant with no regard for others. A parent taking their SVU size stroller INTO a small coffee shop or letting a toddler throw a fit in a restaurant while seeming completely oblivious is obnoxious. But I guess that's another topic all together.
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