An expat in Vancouver: dogs

There are a lot of dogs in Vancouver. The numbers are not reliable, but the city claims 30,000 dogs licensed, out of 273,000 or so households. I don’t know why anyone would not license their dog, but apparently there’s reason to believe the total number of dogs, licensed or not, is 145,000.

A Scottie-Cairn mix

It is definitely dog-friendly, possibly one of the most dog-friendly cities in North America, if there were such a survey. A luxe hotel encourages pet visitors. Community dog bowls outside of stores are everywhere. And everyone wants to know the breed of your dog or what kind of rescue mutt it is. “Can my dog come say hello?” is something a dog walker often hears. The “hello” is for your dog, of course, not you.

You had me at "hello." Woof.

Vancouver is the first city where I’ve met rescue dogs from Taiwan, India, the Philippines and other Asian points of origin. I guess there aren’t enough adoptions in those countries for dogs taken from puppy mills and meat factories.

The city has identified many areas as off-leash parks, and although some are not enclosed, they are usually in semi-protected, scenic areas where you can enjoy the time away from your computer as much as your canine friend. Some are at beautiful beaches, like Vanier Park or Spanish Bank.

Vanier Park for dogs

However, the fines for letting the pooch loose just anywhere can be steep, from $250 up to $2000. I notice people flouting these restrictions pretty regularly, but I don’t dare. And that’s what the fine is meant to do…dissuade totally. I can understand it. Not everyone likes to mix with running and jumping dogs, and let’s face, not every owner is responsible regarding controlling dog misbehavior and picking up after them. Don’t you wish they were easy to find and fine?

Finding a place to live that allows dogs is another matter. A dog severely limits your choices. And if your dog is more than 20 pounds, even more so. That might be why there are so many small dogs in the city. That and the fact that buildings squeeze residents into as little space as possible, and you have a huge imbalance between big and little dogs, from what I’ve observed. (Those black and white French bulldogs are really popular, btw. They could be Vancouver’s patron dog.)

So a building that allows dogs tends to be full of them. If your dog, like ours, can’t take the excited anticipation of waiting at the elevator for the door to open in hopes of seeing a canine neighbor without going all out of control, then you should limit yourself further by looking for a garden apartment on the first floor. We lucked out; maybe you would too.

But then, dogs are allowed in the strangest places, like the baby ferry on False Creek, Aquabus. It hardly holds more than five people, but if each person had a dog they’d be allowed.


Another reason to celebrate the arrival of pleasant spring and summer weather? Dog friendly restaurant patios! Ah, to imbibe a local microbrew watching the sunset over False Creek or English Bay with your shaggy friend at your feet. Until then, dogs wait outside. Because it would just be too mean to leave them home alone.

About kmazz

I spend as much time as possible pursuing my interests in global culture, photography, arts and politics.
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1 Response to An expat in Vancouver: dogs

  1. Alan :o) says:

    dogs everywhere!!!

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