About a month ago, I was walking around the Lower East Side with my friends Heather, Kurt and Andrew, when we stumbled upon a couple of hipsters on a scavenger hunt (isn’t this how every story begins?).
“How do you feel about doggie gyms?” the girl asked.
“Like, gyms? For dogs?” I asked.
“Yeah. Ethically, how do you feel about them?”
I must admit, between the issues of healthcare reform and Snookie from Jersey Shore getting clocked in the face, hadn’t spent much time contemplating doggie gyms.
“Yeah!” the girl and guy both shouted, so excited in their little knit caps. A thought bubble appeared beside my head, and I peered off into the night sky.
I imagined that the doggie gym is just like a human (humie, perhaps) gym. Hounds run on the treadmill, while labs take to the elliptical. Rottweilers walk around the weight room, pumping serious iron in tight t-shirts. No one cares, rottweilers. Terriers step onto the scale, and little doggie tears roll down their faces. 1/4 more pound, they think. Just 1/4.
“Well, it depends on why the doggies are at the gym,” I decided, remembering the body-conscious terriers. If the dogs were at the gym because they might not otherwise get any activity, then the gym was a great idea. They could play and frolic with all of the other pups, without the hassel of “nature.” Isn’t that why some people go to gyms?
But then I thought about the other people; the ones who go to get bizarrely fit and make the rest of us feel like Roseanne. These people probably made their dogs feel very self-conscious and forced them to work out for hours upon hours to match their own MTV bodies. Poor little Cookie just wants to eat Kibble and chill with the rest of the bulldogs, but her owner, some stuck up publicist from Soho, forces her to take Puppy Pilates at 6am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For doggies like Cookie, their may be no way out.
Then, about a week ago, I discovered one of these doggie gyms. I was going for a run (to support a healthy heart, and not at all because I’m scared of getting fat) when I passed Biscuits and Bath in Soho. At first, I was intrigued that I had found a new biscuit place. Hell yeah, I thought, as I huffed and puffed. But no, this was one of the facilities the hipsters had brought to my attention. I could not see much through the window, besides some mats and pads (who takes gymnastics? What is it, 1998?) In any case, it was much less dramatic than I had imagined, which was sort of a pleasant surprise, but I still stick to my idea that there are canines somewhere in this city doing pull ups, while another group of pups are doing yoga in the next room. I bet they can do a killer Downward Facing Dog.