Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who let the dogs out?

I had another dog dream last night. Or to specify, I dreamed in a perfectly surreal fashion of obtaining a puppy, which has been a goal of mine for quite some time now. Searching for meaning, I typed “dog” into an online dream analyzer and discovered that dogs in the dream world symbolize “intuition, loyalty, generosity, protection and fidelity.” Further, dreaming of them “suggests that your strong values and good intentions will enable you to go forward in the world and bring you success.” Right on. But between us, I think it means that I just really want a dog.

Paris today counts some 200,000 chiens for some 2.2 million Parisians, which is actually only 11%. Why, then, does the pitter-patter of little paws feel so omnipresent in this city? Perhaps due to the canine calling cards for which Parisian streets are so well known, which, in addition to the sight of people strolling the perpetrators, accounts for the resolutely “top of mind” position enjoyed by the French pooch. In any case, I want one: preferably small and fluffy, with a gentle disposition and minimal amount of shedding. I have several models in mind: Shih Tzu, Tibetan Spaniel, Chihuahua....

But realistically speaking, it probably isn’t going to happen; my innocent desire to own an adorable, adoring little ball of fluff is counterbalanced by my overactive conscience, which knows better. One, both G. and I work full-time. Two, having grown up in the country, I am keenly aware that there are places far better suited for dogs, children and other small, innocent beings than la jungle urbaine. Were we to actually go out and buy a dog, the poor dear would be left all alone in our Paris-size (read: teeny) apartment from dawn till dusk, pining away for its masters while more fortunate dogs romp and frolic in the great outdoors as nature intended. There is of course a park nearby, but dogs generally don’t walk themselves, and we naturally have no back yard—only a typical Parisian balcony with lacy iron railings that may be a delightful place for humans, but would by no means provide our would-be dog with an acceptable, safe alternative to the great outdoors. Hélas!

Never having been one to accept seeing my desires rebuffed, I remain hopeful that there is a solution out there. But unfortunately, no matter what privileges Parisian dogs enjoy, accompanying their masters to work on a daily basis is not one of them. So for the moment, I see no answer … although I do have an idea: the arrival a few years ago of the now well-known, DIY bike rental service known as Vélib’ (a fusion of the words vélo or “bike,” and libre or “free”) got me thinking that this approach could possibly be applied to other public-use domains. With Vélib’ one can rent a bike for a paltry €1 from any of the hundreds of open air bike stations scattered across the city and enjoy it for up to 30 minutes, at which point the bike must simply be returned to the closest station in exchange for a fresh one, and so on and so forth.

Now, call me crazy (everyone else does), but why not develop a system of short-term dog rentals based on the same concept as Vélib’? Imagine a series of small pet stores offering 1-hour, half-day or full-day dog rentals. You’d show up, select the dog and leash of your choice, and off the two of you would go! When your time was up, you would simply return the dog to the closest pet store and take out another one. This would allow busy Parisians to enjoy such dog-owning pleasures as weekend romps, evening strolls and games of catch in the park, while effectively eliminating the less pleasant aspects, such as trips to the vet, workday dog-abandonment guilt and the dubious pleasure of removing fur from the couch with rolled-up Scotch tape.

Problem solved! I will pen a letter to Sarkozy tomorrow; I imagine that putting Chienlib’ into effect will provide him with a nice change from juggling retirement reform, campaign contribution scandals and that whole soccer thing.