Run Like a Dog

My best friend, Bridget, ran the ING New York City Marathon last month. That’s 26.2 miles—which, if I’m being honest, sounds like a long way to drive, let alone run. My body isn’t built for such things.

But just because my legs aren’t capable of running for an unnaturally long period of time doesn’t mean I’m not capable of cheering on others for four hours. Especially when one of those people is your friend and she’s running to raise money for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.

You see, in addition to running, Bridget loves dogs. (Based on these interests, it’s unclear why we’re friends.) More specifically, she loves guide dogs. Her family has trained three and counting, because they enjoy the torture that comes with raising a puppy for a year before they have to give it back. I’d prefer to save such pain for the day I send my firstborn off to college, but I admire their efforts nevertheless.

And so, on Nov. 3, I huddled on the streets of New York with Bridget’s colorful (I say this lovingly) Long Island family, shivering in my sweatshirt and praying I didn’t miss her run past me. I had a rather sordid history of marathon spectating, once accidentally missing Bridget’s half-marathon finish because I was enjoying a leisurely brunch near the race course. In my defense, she ran much faster than anticipated. 

I refused to let that happen again. And so I waited there at the 14-mile marker, peeling my eyes until Bridget finally came into view. After high-fiving her (and getting weirdly emotional), we high-tailed it for the subway and scooted off to our next stop—the 20 and 22-mile markers, respectively.

By the end of the damn thing, I was exhausted. Something Bridget and I actually had in common.

But she did it for the puppies, after all—for guide dogs that are finding their way into both hearts and apartment homes. However, guide dogs aren’t the only type of service animals to do so lately.

Increasingly, apartment residents are finding ways to bring animals into apartments that have no-pet policies by obtaining notes from physicians or therapists for physical and mental conditions that require multifamily housing owners to waive those policies, as was recently reported in The New York Times.

The broad definition of disability can include those with serious depression, chronic pain, and other illnesses, allowing them to seek waivers from no-pet policies. Personally, I’d like to argue that a pet prairie dog would significantly increase my happiness and mental health, but that may be stretching the notion of a “service animal” a bit too far.

Darryl Vernon, a partner in the law firm Vernon & Ginsburg, cautions that they must prove the disability meets the legal parameters and the pet is “medically helpful.”

In June 2012, units Magazine shared additional information about service animals in “At Your Service” on page 80.

No-pet apartment communities worry that granting too many waivers could encourage others to obtain doctors’ notes. Owners and managers also must consider the sentiments of residents who chose a dog-free building because of allergies or other experiences. However, denying a waiver can open owners up to allegations of discriminatory conduct.

Don’t even get Bridget started on this one.

For more, check out “The Update” on pg. 20 of the November issue of units Magazine, which mailed Nov. 10. Check out the e-version now.