NYC’s Top Trend: Doggie Booties

by Ranim Elborai

“Another Handbook hiatus? What’s up with that? It’s not like you have anything else to do!”

This is true. I really don’t have much going on.

But I’ve been in New York City since Tuesday, throwing my routine off completely. And I have always been a creature of habit. I like waking up at the same time (between 9:00 am and 10:00 am if I’m feeling particularly disciplined), consuming my usual breakfast (oatmeal with honey these days but I used to be a PB+J on toast devotee in the past), walking over to the office (well, what I consider to be my office), ordering my usual coffee (double mach, extra milk, tiny shot of chocolate), then trying my hand at writing. The days I produce something leave me filled with elation and a smug sense of self-worth. The days my mind draws a continuous blank for three and half hours throw me down into the darkest abyss of self-loathing. Or something like that.

Battling with the bitter cold that’s clutching much of the US in its vice-like grip this winter has not been conducive to creativity. I don’t particularly want to leave the flat where my friend is so kindly letting me crash because a mere ten minutes outside feels like a lifetime on the Arctic tundra. Then when I’m out, all I do is rabidly mutter to myself about how cold I am.

Yesterday, a chatty cab driver  showed me a bottle of water he’d left in his cab over a 5-hour span that had frozen solid. He then claimed that this was the coldest winter New York has seen since the 1950s. I’m a little skeptical about the accuracy of that statement, but I personally can’t recall ever being this cold in New York when I was around a few years ago.

All I know is that at this very moment, it is (an enviable) 7 degrees (Celsius, because the metric system is clearly superior) warmer in London than it is in New York, and although I’ve missed my friends here and I’m very excited to see them, I really can’t wait to get back to slightly warmer London again. Even if the meteorological tradeoff is a climate of perpetual sogginess and unending gloom.

This unwelcoming weather hasn’t just been detrimental to my way of life. It’s managed to kill fashion completely on the streets of NYC.

Yes, style has given in to practical considerations such as avoiding frostbite and steering clear of hypothermia, and the results are disastrous. An unfortunate admixture of necessity and bad taste has created a lamentable winter uniform for the women here; namely, bulky puffy jackets and salt-stained Ugg boots. I cannot begin to count the number of individuals I’ve spotted wearing this sad combo.

But what else can one do in this weather?

Giving in to a necessary evil does not a trend make. So instead I will introduce you all to the one phenomenon that I have observed over the course of a few days’ time here: doggie booties.

UnknownThere are lots of dogs in New York — it can be a lonely city and they make excellent friends. People just can’t enough of a loving canine companion. And because your pet is so special, you’ve got to get it some special food, a nice designer collar, an organic chew toy, and of course, the latest fashion accessory to hit the pet store racks — doggie booties.

I realise the cold may be unpleasant for doggies’ paws. And I understand that dog owners love to dress their best friends up in anthropomorphic gear. But do dogs really need footwear?

Like almost every other question I’ve ever asked, opinions are rather divided.

Some say doggie booties are a must for really cold or really hot weather, or if you’re taking your dog out on the ice or on a trail with jagged rocks and gravel. Others might point out that dogs have been roaming the earth without boots on for centuries (millennia?), so why the hell would they need these infernal doggie booties now? Still others will suggest skipping the doggie booties and using a paw wax instead.

One things is for sure: if you put a dog in boots for the first time, hilarity will ensue.

I’ll be back in London, and my writing routine, on Tuesday.

Although…I may need a day to settle in, and then maybe another day to drum up some inspiration. So see you Friday, maybe?