I spent the Columbus Day weekend in Philadelphia. I have a grandson there, as well as my daughter and her husband, I should add. My wife and I often remark that we didn’t know grandparenting was a thing until Declan was born. I mean, we knew about grandparenting of course, but we were not prepared for how immediately and radically we would be in love with that little man. It is good for my daughter, I am sure, that we live five hours away or we might wear out our welcome.
Anyway, Philadelphia has some kind of vendetta against trees and grass. Unlike Buffalo or Boston, it is a gritty expanse of rutted, cracked, and patched concrete squares and rectangles. There are parks of course, some of them massive, but in some parts of Philadelphia an oasis of green can be a desert of concrete away. That was a problem for my dog.
You see, my poor canine companion was born in Cabot, Vermont and enjoyed her first three years running around acres of grass and snow. Even since moving to Geneva, we have always found nearby areas to run, and nearly every street is lined with grass and trees. When nature calls to her, she can spend up to five minutes sniffing and circling in search of exactly the right spot to relieve herself. She would be mortified if she knew I was telling you this, but the dog is actually quite neurotic about her bathroom habits.
For example, she loves snow and as winter fades into spring, she insists on doing her duty on a remaining patch of winter. She will go out of her way holding back nature until she finds an island of snow large enough to do her circling on. Her neurosis carries over into the warm seasons, making the search for a safe and appropriate place to go a test for human patience. So, imagine the apoplexy when there was no grass to be had!
Seriously, the closest park was blocks away and welcomed us with: “Keep Dogs Out!” Besides, while it was crowded with grand trees, the ground was leaf and acorn covered without much grass. We found a fifteen-foot strip of crabgrass along the sidewalk near my daughter’s house, but the dog didn’t even want to step on it. “This is not grass!” was the indignant look she glared when I tried to pull her on the rough and littered strip. Besides, fifteen feet is not nearly enough runway.
Thank goodness for apartment buildings. A few of them sported small lawns at their entrance. No doubt they would have preferred we keep off, but hey, a dog has to go somewhere. Besides, I clean up after. Speaking of that, I am pretty sure my dog thinks I am saving her mementos in little plastic bags because she is so precious.
City dogs have it tough, that’s all I can say. I wonder about the long-term effect on humans too. We know that concrete bakes in heat and creates havoc with rainwater drainage, but what does so much of it do to the human aesthetic? We should be grateful and supportive of the green spaces and landscaped meridians included in Geneva’s Downtown Redevelopment Initiative, for they will make our downtown greener.