Figure 1: Dogs as extensions of the self. (Photo:Alan Grabinsky)
In New York City, like in many other cities, dogs become an extension of the self. Inside, a dog can be seen as a household animal that gives warmth to urban life. People have dogs in apartments even when there is no room for them. They are consolers of the lonely. They are the friends we can’t have in urban settings.
Once outside, however, dogs also perform as fashion accessories. The sidewalk frames the dog owner and his dog in a theatrical scene. In this sense, the dog becomes an extension of the owner’s identity. This is why we get so mad at owners when dogs are taking a crap in the middle of the sidewalk.It is as if the owners themselves were taking a dump.
What I find most surprising in this daily ordeal is the fact that owners stand proud as representatives of their pet’s animality. Like the cynics of Ancient Greece, they seem to think that taking a dump in public space is a way of showing the animality that we all have, hidden deep inside of us.