Oct 23rd, 2017, 06:22 PM

Life In Paris With a Pet

By Lillian Giler
Casey's First Day in Paris. Image Credit: Lillian Giler
Having a dog in Paris adds a special element to living and immersing oneself in this bustling city.

You may think just living in Paris is the ultimate dream come true, and it is...but now imagine a happy, tail-wagging pal suddenly appears in that dream! 

Having a dog in Paris adds a special element to living and immersing oneself in this bustling city — from early walks on sleepy Sunday mornings when hardly a soul can be seen to late evening walks when the darkness crosses paths with light laughter coming from a distant corner bar. The rats and bats take claim the Seine along with the remnants of trash left behind from the day. The ins-and-outs of what you knew Paris to be transform into a new picture when doggo enters the scene.

Image Credit: Lillian Giler

While I've only been in Paris with Casey (my dog) for seven months, there are a few things that I instantly noticed or that changed my experience living here once I brought him to the city to live with me.

1. Hardly Any Dogs Are on Leashes.

It is rare that you'll see a dog running off somewhere far away from its owner— rather you'll see an owner taking a stroll along the Seine with his pet trotting not-too-far behind. In the case that you do see a dog off leash with the owner nowhere to be found, it is most likely a pup and will be exuberantly running around looking for any  trace of baguettes.

 2. There's Poop Everywhere.

One does not have to be a dog owner to notice the piles of dog poo on the sidewalks, but if you haven't noticed, beware! Parisians have a knack for not picking up after their dogs.  Despite the signs warning that fines will be incurred if you don't not pick up after your dog, you still have to watch out for "landmines" in the patches of grass along the Seine, near trees, on the sidewalks, you name it!

3. Dogs Have a Special Place in Society. 

More and more, people want to spend time with their pets and want bring them along with them for daily errands and so on. Pooches around Paris are woven into society and are more widely accepted in commercial locations compared to the U.S. Dogs can be seen with their owners in cafés, hair salons, and in stores including department stores such as the Bon Marché.

Image Credit: Lillian Giler

Along with these three aspects of Parisian Pet Life, there are also day-to-day interactions that alter the way you are perceived and the way you see the city.

1. People Are a Little More Friendly & You Get to Know More Locals.

Prior to Casey's  arrival in Paris, my daily routine was less than routine. At best I was an infrequent customer at places, having the same increasingly monotonous interactions which led to more dry and simple interactions. At the café, "corner store" and, other various localities in my neighborhood, I was a faceless foreigner. However, since having Casey here, I run into restaurant owners, restaurant staff, and neighbors who greet me with recognition and a smile or ask about my dog. Rather than being just a passerby, I am now coined as "the girl with the dog who lives nearby". 

2. The Three Most Common Questions.

While I don't have the best handle on speaking French yet, the three most common questions that I have mastered are: "How old is he? ", "What's his name?" and "Is he a boy or girl?"

3. Tourists Love Dogs! (specifically Americans!).

As an American, I can attest to the shared feeling of sheer joy and the innate urge to want to pet and talk to a cute puppy in a high-pitched voice when I see one. More often than not when I'm walking Casey, I'll often hear "Oh a puppy!" and sometimes I'll even get American parents asking "Can our child pet your dog, s'il vous plaît?"

4. More people will ask you for directions.

If you have a dog here, its best to know where the nearest metro is, what bridges are nearby, and how to get to the closest landmark. It is invertible that you'll be asked questions like these because, with your pet, you appear to be a local. 

Having a dog in Paris has been more enriching than I could have ever imagined. It has allowed me to immerse myself in French culture and interact with locals far more than I had been able to prior to the arrival of my favorite furry companion. If you are thinking about adding a dog to your life in Paris, I suggest you consider, along with the logistics, these unexpected benefits.