The Dogs Of NEWYORK

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During the 1970s and '80s, New York City experienced a drastic decline in its canine population. Whether this was precipitated by Mayor Ed Koch's enactment of the "pooper scooper" laws or whether New Yorkers simply lost interest in dogs is still unknown.

What is certain is that since 9/11, the situation has completely reversed. In the past five years, the number of dogs in New York City has increased to an all time high of 1,250,000.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and social scientists have speculated that this explosion of new dogs is due to a great need by their owners for unconditional love.

Psychotherapist Michelle LeBow, who with her therapy dog "Ego", is featured in "The Dogs of New York" comments: "I don't know what you would do when you come home every night to an empty apartment. Your apartment is... empty, until you do have a sensate being there."


Dr. LeBow spent her childhood in Belgium hiding from the Nazis during World War II, and knows of what she speaks. She tells of people keeping their dogs alive in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty "for comfort, and someone to love".

New Yorkers have taken great comfort and solace in their new dogs. But dog love comes at a high price for working city dwellers, who have helped build "doggie day care" into a $55 billion business nationwide.

The stars of the show are:

"Pepper", a wirehaired Dachshund who sits at the table each evening and dines with his owners, two Wall Street executives;

"Scooter", a Pomeranian who suffers from extreme separation anxiety and is taken everywhere by his doting mom, a striking blond executive;

"Rosie", a white Bulldog who accompanies her veterinarian owner as he makes house calls throughout the city in his white Land Rover;


"Velvet", a stubborn Scotty whose owner, an eminent psychiatrist, brings him to Tasti-DeLite every afternoon for nonfat kosher ice cream;

"Telly", an American hairless Rat Terrier, owned by a hyper-allergic civil servant who dresses him in a snowsuit and woolen hat;

"Leroy", a Chinese Crested, who is the center of attention at his owner's Soho beauty salon, where he is perpetually groomed and pampered by a coterie of exotically tattooed hair stylists.

"The Dogs of New York" spend their days at the Ritzy Canine, an historic 1820s carriage house in midtown Manhattan, whose owners have had completely renovated to accommodate dogs.

From the imported crystal chandelier hanging over the reception area, to the roof top garden with its waterfall fountain and solarium, no expense has been spared.

The dogs at the Ritzy Canine are surrounded by professional Pet Care Attendants, who actually spend more time with them than their work-weary owners. Most own dogs themselves- but in sharp contrast, their dogs remain at home like latchkey children, waiting for them to return from their daily charges. Danielle Longo, a Bronx resident who is also a musician, describes "Pepper" as a "spoiled little rich kid from Madison Avenue".

"The Dogs of New York" is an intimate cinema verité documentary that looks lightheartedly at a handful of post-9/11 New Yorkers regaining peace and balance in their lives through canine companionship- and discovering that a dog's love is worth everything- no matter what seemingly ridiculous cost or inconvenience.

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