Mapping dogs by cuteness level in Union Square
My partner and I decided to map dogs by cuteness level in Union Square. New York is not necessarily a pet-friendly city—there isn’t a lot of free space to roam or grass to do it on—yet there are hundreds of thousands of dogs here. When times get stressful, looking at (or petting!) a dog is truly a relief. In a bustling, overwhelming city, where everyone is rushing to their destination, what better place to have an instant reminder of pure, contagious joy. It’s more than just tracking dogs (though they’re so cute, that would be enough in and of itself); it’s about tracking people who desire dogs’ companionship.
In terms of cuteness, all dogs are adorable and perfect, so it was really just mapping an added level of what brings happiness to people.
Dog owners generally have some level of expendable income, so in a way we are mapping people who have the privilege to own a dog in an expensive city. Often cuteness level is also determined by how clean the dogs are and how well they’re groomed, which is also linked to money. But when doing observations during the day in an area with a lot of offices, many of the people we saw walking dogs were dog walkers. So with our map, we are also telling the their stories.
The majority of our dogs were found in the small dog run inside Union Square. In a big city, dog runs are crucial for allowing dogs to roam off leash. We barely saw any other dogs outside of the dog park, unless they were heading towards it. Union Square is a bustling area full of street vendors and business people. Perhaps if dog parks had their own separate green spaces that were easier to get to, it would both increase the happiness of dogs, owners, and walkers alike, while also allowing dogs to have more leisure time in other areas of the park.