The Yuppie Puppy

Kids were out of the question.

And moving in together was as likely as Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb doing the same.


Not this year. Money and commitment was still an issue for both.

One career was still in flux, while the other was still in the final stages of completely recovering from a relationship that ended over a year ago.

All relationships have barometers, levels, stages…but not all conform to the same true life game of Chutes and Ladders. In the case above of Connor and Kirsten, things were moving along positively the way most couples that end up looking for monogrammed towels do: Met through friends, established curiously good chemistry immediately, progressed to move from planned Saturday night dates to assumed SNDs, and drawer space in their respective nightstands have since been created.

Still, the happy couple felt a need to solidify the relationship in some way without putting pressure on one side or the other to commit to something they may not be ready for. Kirsten had lived with a guy for a few years before they met, and the taste in her mouth from the experience wasn’t Listerined yet. She since saw his lack of decisiveness as a cop-out…a way for her ex-boyfriend to buy time while he figured out what he wanted to do. Unfortunately for her, that next step was procrastinated upon and never came, and that indecision was the catalyst in bringing matters to a close.

Enter a new boyfriend, and eventually…the yuppie puppy.

For a town like Hoboken that has few parks and virtually no backyards for dogs to leisure in by day, there are still an inordinate amount of dog owners. “Doggie runs” are packed on weekends at the Church Square, Stevens and Elysian Parks. A sunny November Saturday walking up and down Washington Street will guarantee seeing at least 2 dogs being walked per block of all shapes and sizes by men and women residents equally.

Another example of the demand for canine-related services is illustrated through a quick peek of the number of pet enterprises in town. Claws n Paws, Dogs Gone Bizzy, Puppy Dream, and Beowoof are four of 12 businesses in Hoboken. There is even an exclusive web site for city dog owners at

Connor and Kirsten decided on adopting a female mutt from the Hoboken Animal Hospital at 7th and Washington. Although the cost was relatively minimal for the adoption ($75.00), the costs afterward were something they didn’t anticipate, nor was the responsibility that goes along with having a pet.

The couple instantly fell in love with the puppy, whom they named Ginger. Her innocence from being abandoned (she was tied to the door of an Animal Hospital by a former owner or someone who had found her) and the fact she was scheduled to be put to sleep 72 hours before the adoption, clinched her new life of being, in their eyes, the most spoiled pup in Hoboken.

Connor immediately felt guilty after leaving Ginger in a one bedroom apartment when he went to work after only one day, so he and Kirsten decided to utilize Graceland Doggie Day Care, a dog walking and daily pet sitting service. For $20.00-$24.00 per visit, the service offers playtime with other pets, room to play and exercise (over 6,000 square feet of play area), and interact with other dogs while under the supervision of Graceland staff. And if the cold weather and lack of a car prevent you from transporting your dog to their facility (7th and Clinton), Graceland offers a pet taxi for $6.00, one way.

“The first day we brought Ginger to Graceland, she was put through an interview process to see how she would act around other dogs staying there,” explained Connor. “We quickly learned that she didn’t get along with the bigger male dogs very well, but for some reason enjoyed playing with smaller female dogs, so they put her in an area that conformed to that evaluation.”

One advantage of bringing Ginger to an all-day facility (a daily rate can run from 7:00 AM-8:00 PM in case you work early or late), is the pleasant result of having a dog who is pooped out by the time you pick him/her up at the end of the day.

“She is excited to see us after we pick her up and take her home, but she quickly conks out from playing all day,” says Kirsten. “We get more sleep from her not waking up early in the morning or the middle of the night.”

The pet care industry is an exploding business, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Pet owners are spending more than double that they did a decade ago on items from food and fashion to top-quality health care, the group says. It estimates pet-related spending will top $35.9 billion this year, putting the pet industry ahead of other conventionally popular consumer sectors such as the $20 billion spent on toys in 2004 or the $24 billion on candy.

“We get divorced now at higher rates. Our kids grow up and move away. But the pets remain,” says Nancy Peterson of the Pets for Life program at the Humane Society of America. “When I come home from work and my old cat greets me at the door, I need no further proof of the value of the relationship.”

“I was even more overwhelmed by my dog’s demands,” explains Jerry Sims, 31, of Garden Street. “Mornings begin with frenzied barking at 5. Walks and fetch were out of the question because I work late, and to go to a park means walking five blocks in the dark. Inside, my dog’s preferred activities are chewing on shoes and sinking her razor-sharp teeth into the furniture. It’s tough, but I wouldn’t trade not having him around for anything.”

So is owning a pet good practice for bigger responsibility for possibly having kids down the line?

“Your plans and social life immediately change,” says Connor. “You’re always thinking first before committing to a weekend away or joining a beach house; who will take care of the dog? Can we trust our friends to do a good job or will the dog embarrass us if she stays somewhere else for a weekend or a night? One of us always needs to be there to feed her, walk her, make sure she’s okay…it’s almost the same as having a kid, so I guess it’s good practice from the perspective of sacrifice and thinking beyond your own needs.”


Not now…


Maybe in a year or two…

A dog?

A nice bridge to bigger things to take care of in the future, but without the college fund to worry about…

17th Century poet George Eliot sums up the relationship between humans and man’s best friend best: “Dogs are such agreeable friends–they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”