I often hear my Toronto friends talk about how much they’d love to have a dog, and I totally get it. I myself have a dog—a three-year-old English bulldog with way more personality than brains—so I understand wanting to have a furry friend to walk with, talk with and spend cold evenings cuddled up with while binge-watching the latest Netflix original series (why are they all so good!?).
But here’s the thing. All of these friends also happen to live in apartments. I’m not saying that it’s impossible or entirely unenjoyable to have a dog in a Toronto apartment, but I AM saying that it presents a lot of challenges, frustrating situations, and even awkward and expensive encounters that house-owning dog parents simply don’t have to deal with.
Consider the following, and if you’re still up for the challenge then I know there are plenty of fur babies at the Toronto Humane Society waiting for someone just like you!
1. Number One AND Number Two
There’s no way around it. Dogs need to go, and you can train them to go at convenient times and you can buy potpourri scented baggies, but you’ll still need to put your shoes on, clip on that leash and go on an adventure to find an ideal patch of grass on which your friend is willing to squat.
This was a challenge for me, even in the low-rise-centric Toronto community I lived in, so I can’t imagine how challenging it must be for people who live in the city core. And in fact, there’s another big challenge, beyond dragging your lazy butt outside (and potentially waiting 10 minutes for an elevator).
It’s what I like to call the NIMFYs. No, not the NIMBYs—those individuals who refuse to support development on, in or around their neighbourhoods—but the NIMFYs…Not In My Front Yard.
These individuals will scold you for letting your dog pop a squat on their yard…like you have a choice? Sometimes the park simply isn’t close enough, and there’s also the fact that I can’t exactly read my dog’s mind. When she has to go, she will go, and sometimes it happens to be in YOUR front yard.
I live in a house now, and the newfound luxury of being able to just open my door and let her out while I stand inside wrapped up in my housecoat and slippers is immeasurable.
2. The Fur Is EVERYWHERE
Fur is still an issue, even in a house. But in a tiny Toronto apartment, the fur can begin to feel overwhelming. You’re constantly sweeping, Swiffering and vacuuming; and just try to look professional with fur all over your work clothes. Does anyone have a lint roller?
You can try to get a breed that doesn’t shed as much, but there’s always some fur loss and cleaning to be done.
3. Strolling in The City
Dogs need to be walked. They need to get outside of that tiny apartment for fresh air, they need to stretch their little dog legs, and they need exercise so they can be healthy—and also so they don’t tear around your apartment like a bat ‘outta hell at 2am.
Walks can be a scheduling nightmare though if you have a career. There’s the strict timelines you need to live your life by, the guilt when you stray from those regular walks, and the hefty expense if you try to outsource the exercise. The average dog walker in Toronto charges about $18-25/hour, depending on whether you want a group or solo session for your pup. Let me tell you, that adds up fast.
OK, so this continues to be a challenge for me in the house, but it’s something a lot of would-be could-be owners forget to consider.
4. The Bark Is Worse Than the Bite
The fastest way to anger your new neighbours? Have a dog that barks All. The. Time. And if you’re leaving your dog alone during the day, who knows what she’s up to?
There’s not much that can be done about this, aside from trying to train your dog to be silent. And when you get a dog, it’s impossible to know whether it will be calm, cool and collected or the most vocal creature since Joan Rivers (RIP).
This is definitely a challenge though, and it’s one that can get you complaints and even evicted.
5. When Walking Won’t Do
Many people who rent apartments or have condos in Toronto don’t have cars. There are exceptions, but I don’t know many of them.
Sometimes you need to take your dog to the groomers or the vet because they ate a giant piece of unidentifiable rubber that isn’t coming out the natural way. Other times you just need to take your dog to the park, but you don’t live close enough to walk there (bulldogs are kind of lazy…and no one likes to see you dragging your friend down the sidewalk).
Regardless of why you need to get your friend from point A to B, transportation can be an expensive and challenging endeavor.
6. Dog People…You Know Who I Mean
I love dogs, but some people are just down right nuts about ‘em. And when you live in an apartment and have to walk everywhere with your dog, you tend to go to the same park with the same people (and dogs) every day.
I’ve encounter more than a few undesirables at the dog park who want to talk your ear off the entire time about their fur friend’s bowel movements or about how Mr. Munks prefers an all vegan raw diet. Other park people will want to overshare about their marital issues or about how wonderful their child is at the trombone. Either way, there’s no escape.
Hopefully you enjoy stranger talk, because it’s part of being a dog owner. It can be annoying and awkward, but it’s just something you’ll just have to deal with if you bring home a fur babe.
Still interested in having a dog in a Toronto apartment? Of course you are. Bless your dog loving heart, and best of luck to you and your new friend!