To Be a Dog in Paris

Mulan - Quite snug on the streets of Paris

Perhaps, I should be ashamed, but I’m not. I admit that I am jealous of dogs in Paris. It is our favorite city in the world, and yet we have to work and save and finally purchase our tickets in order to visit the City of Light. Our friend’s dog – “Mulan” – gets to walk the streets of Paris each and every day, even has a sweater to wear during chilly weather. Before Mulan, it was “Sam”, who lived and died in Paris, who knew the kindly street vendors that would call out his name and offer a treat.

Oh, yes. We hear tourists mock and complain and advise one another with a roll of the eyes to “watch where you walk in Paris!” Not, mind you, that we haven’t seen plenty of Americans promenade down the street with “Fifi” leaving a trail of fertilizer in their neighbor’s yards. Granted the problem in Paris used to be quite extreme with rather an offhand air of “Let the walker beware.”

Everyone knew Sam in his bandana

Not quite so these days. From the regiment of petite motocrottes – motorbikes with vacuum cleaners – launched under the mayorship of Jacques Chirac to the 2003 decree that required dog owners to clean up after the chien, Paris has worked to eliminate the elimination problem. What really turned the tide from dog owners’ “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” attitude was the enforcement of 180-euro fines. Apparently, the offenses have been reduced considerably over the last several years. Cultural change, after all, does not happen overnight.

During our last visit to Paris, we were afforded “front row seats” to what we can only describe as a dog ballet in the streets. Like so many good stories, some of the humor will be lost in the telling. We were with our dog-loving friends waiting for a table outside of a restaurant across from Jardin du Luxembourg. A policewoman or crossing guard was across the little side street that ran past the bistro.

Two tall women proceeded to cross that street with their pooch, when said dog decided to test their mettle – in the middle of the street. They stopped, rummaged through purses, looked rather perplexed. The policewoman looked on. Everyone at the sidewalk tables and awaiting customers watched.

Our friend rushed to their aid with a poop sack, but not before the uniformed lady stepped into the street to halt a car turning the corner. Picking up after the dog was the priority. The driver simply had to wait. It was a scene that could well have been part of the 2006 movie, Paris, Je T’Aime, one little vignette in a city that never fails to entertain.

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