I still walk like a total New Yorker down the streets of Buenos Aires.  I walk like I’m in a rush whether or not I’m in one, and find myself irritated and impatient when caught behind any doddlers.  It’s a habit I will probably never break free of after years and years navigating the crowded streets of Manhattan.  But the one thing that gets me to slow down a bit and take in more of my surroundings, if for nothing more than to stop and stare, are the dog walkers.

Paseaperro in Palermo

Walking to work the other day, I passed this guy (pictured above) in the street. Known as “Paseadores de perros” or simply “Paseaperros,” the Buenos Aires dog walker is an undeniable installation of this city.  People seem obsessed with their dogs and, based on the amount of excrement on the sidewalks, unfortunately don’t believe in cleaning up after them either.

The interesting thing is that the service is not like it is in New York – mostly an ultra-elitist Park Avenue resident thing.  The service seems to be affordable to a broader group of people, even though I still get the sense that it’s a status symbol. And while the New York dog walker is responsible for just a handful of dogs, the Buenos Aires walkers care for what seems like a small army of them that all seem to know and abide by their position in the chain of command.

I count 11 dogs in this picture and there are many times I have encountered two to three walkers together.  Can you imagine walking the narrow sidewalks of Buenos Aires and running into something like 33 dogs??  It’s definitely a site to be seen and I am absolutely amazed how one person seems to be able to control so many perros at one time.

When I was here in July and August, I passed by a park every morning on my way to my Spanish class and heard nothing but a cacophony of barking dogs from all the walkers who took it over.  It was so loud I could hear them from several blocks away.  And in most of the city’s parks you will encounter a similar scene.

So despite how accustom I grew to seeing dog walkers in Manhattan, the paseaperros of Buenos Aires will be one of the things that will continue to get me to slow down my New York stride, have a little more patience, and make me a bit nostalgic for Park Avenue.

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