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An In-Utilitarian Dog’s Life

June 29, 2018

After moving to the USA (Washington DC metro area), one thing I noticed was the large number of people who have dogs. In the neighborhood where I live, I can’t walk one block down the street without encountering at least a couple of people walking their dogs.


Fortunately, the dog owners clean up the dog-poop that their pets produce regularly and the area doesn’t smell like sewerage.


In the past year, the management of the large apartment building in which I live redeveloped the outdoor area of the property. I found it baffling that, now, about half of the outdoor area is a dog-park, which includes a dog-washing-station, and at the same time there is not one swing or slide for children.


My first conclusion was that the property management prioritizes the welfare of the dogs over that of children. But I believe there’s a more profound explanation. The area in which I live is becoming more and more expensive (last rent increase was about 10%) and the property management wants to attract a certain target group of clients.


In my very gruff approach, I call them people who have more money than sense. Others might call them “Millennials” or just “dog lovers”.    


The new dog-park is not the only clue that the neighborhood is populated by lots of people who spend lots of money on dogs. A few blocks from where I live, there is a pet-shop which sells birthday cakes for dogs, naturally in the shape of a bone. Last winter, I saw dogs dressed in Christmas-themed sweaters.





Needless to say, the dogs around Old Town Alexandria have better lives than many children around the world, including the USA.



Why do people keep dogs in the first place?


Dogs are one species that is man-made. Long story short, early man domesticated wolves and dogs came to be. As any other domestic species, dogs served (and continue to serve in some contexts) very utilitarian purposes for people.


Dogs were (still are in some contexts) a form of protection for both people and their property. Even nowadays, guard dogs are essential for shepherds to protect their flocks and, in some rural communities, dogs are used to protect people’s houses from other people with nefarious intentions (e.g. thieves).