For years, I coveted the dogs in my co-op. There was Mudge, the gentle golden on the 9th floor; Charlie, the frisky black-and-white on 11; and Beau, the gentleman Westie on 4 who was my date at a local dog park event. When my children were old enough, we began the search for a dog of our own. After a close call with an oddly possessive breeder, we walked out of a local animal shelter with a wobbly, fawn-like mutt we named Honey.
Fellow residents greeted Honey with good wishes and helpful advice, just as they’d greeted us when my family moved into the building a decade earlier. But with a dog, I soon realized, I was expected to be cooperative without the guidance of co-op rules.
My co-op has dozens of non-dog-related guidelines. Residents are expected to escort guests in and out of the building, to open the front door by pulling on the handle not the key, to tidy up the roof deck before leaving, and, for goodness’ sake, to return the luggage cart to the lobby.
For dogs, we rely solely on common sense. My co-op has no limits on size, breed, or number of dogs. If we did, Honey would have spent a lot of time in … the doghouse. Her genetics probably included a big helping of pit bull, and though trim and agile, she was hardly small. Honey and her canine buddies stayed in each other’s homes when their human owners went out of town. And to the credit, or fault, of our local pet supply store, the noisemaker inside Birdie, Honey’s favorite toy, remained intact a remarkably long time.
Yet in Honey’s last year, when I frequently cleaned puddles inside the main door and when I needed help getting in and out of the building with the large stroller that wheeled her to her favorite place by the Hudson River, my neighbors were as kind and generous as they had been 15 years earlier when Honey took her first unsure steps into our building.
Dogs seem to bring out the good in people. My former veterinarian says that dogs provide reliability in an unreliable world. Maybe that’s why in our building they have escaped regulation.
For some things, no rules are required.