I never would have come up with this one on my own. But as I have found my way through the rivers of people in New York City, I’ve discovered that owners of dogs, particularly small dogs, travel the sidewalks and subways with their pets in purses, totes and, get ready for it, doggie strollers.

I don’t necessarily see it every time I get on the subway, but from time to time, there’s Fifi, parked under Mama’s arm, contained in a tote with a mesh window. I would never have envisioned this, even though I am a dog mama and a new immigrant to the really, really, really Big Apple.

I am a reluctant resident at best. Work keeps me here for a few months. My partner C.T. and I have a host who’s opened his Staten Island home to us and our dog, Tuatha. But we want to be able to take Tuatha to Occupy and other outdoor events, and to visit friends, etc.

So as we moved to Staten Island, we took the plunge and ordered a doggie stroller. The experience of shopping online and ordering was simple enough. Not all strollers are created equal; You get what you pay for, etc. I needed a fairly large one for my twenty-nine pound Sheltie, but bigger costs more. After much hunting we found one that fits his frame and has larger, sturdy wheels, a requirement of mine after years of pushing human strollers. An added bonus: Camouflage fabric! I never cease to be amused at camouflage in unexpected or ironic places. My favorite used to be my camouflage cloth menstrual pads, but the fru-fru dog stroller beats that hands down, if only because few people notice what cloth menstrual pad I’m wearing….Sigh.

The stroller was delivered to a friend’s house in Brooklyn. So before we took it home, we used it to carry C.T.’s consensus books to an Occupy event in Central Park. This was when I learned about stroller culture, and the secret tribe of people who know stroller ways.

First, people made way for me, held doors for me and made adoring looks at me, even though the stroller was empty. In the subway, when an escalator was broken someone grabbed the front of the stroller and carefully helped me carry it down the stairs while carefully keeping it level, so as not to wake the sleeping…books and flowchart handouts.

Sitting on the subway or in a restaurant, I would notice a human toddler in a stroller staring at me with a mommy vibe, as if I must know mommy things because I am sitting next to a stroller.

Just as other people with dreadlocks make eye contact with me and give a knowing nod, now so would stroller people. All this while I was pushing books.

Once at home, just presenting the new conveyance to Tuatha was worth the investment. I wish I had videotaped it. Tuatha was like a kid who’s letter to Santa got answered. He seemed to know what it was for and that it was his, before we even put him inside. He circled it, chirping and nipping at it, then rushing between me and C.T. to nuzzle and kiss. He was sooo thrilled! It was as if he saw this thing with wheels that was his size, and he just knew he’d been given his first car.

When we put him inside and velcroed the mesh cover around him, he sat beaming. And he was unphased by the first movement, and the bumps in the driveway. He just looked at us through the mesh window in the top, and checked our location through his side view, and he was good to go, go, go.

Knowing that we wanted to eventually take him on public transportation, we decided to first take him to a park, creating positive associations. Even though he didn’t need to ride in the stroller to the nearest park, he did so, and loved every moment, not even missing all the poles and bushes he would have wanted to mark.

At the park, he got out, played fetch, relaxed with us, and then got a stroller ride home. Perfect! Next, a dry run on the ferry.

The Staten Island Ferry is free, and just a few blocks from our house. So when we need to go to work downtown we are able to walk to the dock, take the ferry and then we’re in Manhattan. Our only transportation cost is the subway. Before, when we were staying far out on Long Island, a trip into the city cost the two of us nearly $100, between the Long Island Railroad, subways and food.

So a ferry ride, our first experiment with Tuatha and public transportation, would only cost us our time. We walked him by leash to the ferry terminal, put him in the stroller and onto the ferry. The only surprise was that Tuatha became unhappy when his stroller was not being pushed. When we stood still in line and when we were in our seats on the ferry, he complained. He wanted us to make his little car go!

On the sidewalk, and in line for the ferry, some people would look inside the stroller to discover that our child was a dog. It’s funny. There are people who will look in strollers and those who just don’t. Tuatha got many ooohs and ahhhs everywhere he went. I’m sure there were people who thought it was terrible, but no one confronted us.

Having ridden the ferry about a dozen times before Tuatha got on, I was worried that the loud foghorn would scare him. Same for the scrape that the ferry makes against the wood pier when it docks. So we made sure to be on the far side of the ferry from those stimuli. Otherwise, the ferry’s motions and engine sounds were gentle enough that Tuatha seemed unphased. Just bored that his car had stopped!

On the Manhattan side, we wheeled him off for a nice relaxing picnic in Battery Park next to the ferry terminal. Since it’s New York, there was no finding a bench for just ourselves, so Tuatha worked on bribing the people on either side of us into sharing their bread. He has a bread addiction. And this was a park where his drug of choice could be had. He didn’t score, but he tried.

Next we’ll have to venture onto the subway with him, during some off peak time. The subway is much louder but, given how well he’s taken to stroller travel so far, he may avoid panic by feeling secure in his enclosure. I won’t push the issue if he doesn’t like it, of course.

But I already consider the stroller experiment successful, not because it provides me with flexibility, but because Tuatha gets such a kick out of it! I strolled him to the fruit stand the other day and he could roll through the open air market with me, complaining when I stopped to examine produce. I put my selections on top of the stroller and put my purchases in the storage bin underneath for the stroll home.

One challenge is that our host’s house is at the top of a long, steep hill that empties into the bay. So every trip everywhere starts with a long walk down and ends with a long walk up. But if Tuatha and I make more trips to the produce stand for fewer things, I get more exercise in the long run, and let no one dispute that I need exercise.

Already I have date set for tomorrow. Tuatha and I will stroll with a friend from Ganas Community. C.T. and I are lucky to be just a few blocks away from an Intentional Community where we know many people. Some of them are, I believe, stroller people…

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