Open Letter

6th May 2008

Dear people conveying their dogs in strollers,

Stop it.

At first we thought you had a baby in there, as is often the case when people are pushing strollers through parks. But then, we noticed your baby was an extraordinarily active little thing. In fact, your baby seemed to be kicking and punching at the weird stroller enclosure, perhaps even throwing its tiny body against the mesh. My god! Do you need help?! What is wrong with your baby?

Oh. We see now. Your baby is, in fact, a Labrador Retriever. That’s rather disquieting. Perhaps it’s one of those dogs with some sort of unfortunate injury? The kind of sweet little dog that needs wheels on its hindquarters to walk? Well, that’s understandable then, I mean…

But wait. Your dog just jumped out of the stroller and began bounding around the park. He’s rather fat, but otherwise perfectly able bodied. So what the hell, nutter?

Are you unable to control your dog on the city streets with a mere leash, though you’re now allowing that same dog to gad about amongst small children? You’re aware that the phrase “he’s my baby,” when applied to animals, is meant as a joke? Or do you also plan to breast-feed?

In conclusion, let your dog run. That’s what dogs do. If you want to put something in a stroller, get an iguana.

Margaret Mason

64 thoughts on “Open Letter

  1. Nichole

    I saw a woman pushing two Siamese cats in a stroller a few days ago at Target. I said to her, “That’s hilarious.” And she said, very seriously, “They’re my babies.”

  2. Sarah

    People do this? I’ve seen the tiny rat-like dogs in the carriers, but I’ve never seen one in a stroller. People take things too far these days.

  3. Mau

    C’mon Maggeh! They do it for fitness purposes!

    I’m sure I look ridiculous pushing my pampered pet along, but most people think the stroller is adorable and assume she has a problem walking on her own. She doesn’t really, but I am able to walk about five times as far with her in the stroller, so I get a pretty good workout even though jogging with it is tough on one’s back…making turns etc. Just a brisk walk, pushing the stroller and 40 pound dog up hills, has been good for my overall physique and even my arms. – from the Amazon Review

    Gimme a freakin’ break!

  4. jen

    One of my friends totes her malti-poo around in a pink stroller, she brought it when we were bridemaid dress shopping for her wedding, pushed the damn dog around the shops in a stroller. I’ve never been so mortified.

  5. Kat

    Right on. And maybe this is just a Marin County phenomenon, but since when is it ok to bring your dog into a store? Perhaps somehow people feel entitled to bring their dog wherever they feel like, but I don’t appreciate your pooch sniffing me in places I won’t mention while I’m shopping in the Container Store. It’s NOT OKAY, okay?

  6. Jenn

    I’m not 100% crazy about pushing my 31 lb 18 month old son in the jogging stroller, you can be quite certain I’m not going to push a Labrador. That’s wild.

  7. routedereuil

    I frequently saw a woman in a park near where I used to live not only walking her dog in a pram, but also walking her bird–dangling in its cage from the handlebar of the pram.

  8. Megan

    I am much more inclined to get into a stroller myself and have my dog pull me.
    I do not understand why a dog would need to be put in a stroller… ever. If my dog had problems walking, I would probably leave him at home while I went out jogging. Maybe that makes me a bad pet owner.

  9. April

    the review on amazon made me sad—-she puts the dog in the stroller so she can get exercise. because dogs don’t need exercise?
    it’s call Dog Training.
    people depress me. it’s one of those days i guess.

  10. Fatemeh

    OK, gonna have to be the detractor here.

    We got a puppy in October, in large part because I was able to bring her to work (puppy alone all day = bad dog-rearing) and get her on a schedule.

    In December, I ended up with 3 bundles of pinched nerves in my back, which meant that carrying 12 lbs of ANYTHING on my shoulder was torturous.

    I got the damn strolly thingy for BART (non-commute hours, back off). Now, that having been admitted (in public, no less), I will clear my good name by saying I’ve never used it elsewhere.

    So, aside from the punters who are just using those things to be “precious”, there can be a very valid use for them — spending all day with this face

  11. Coffee Jitters

    here here! Thank you, someone had to say that. What a way to exercise your dog.

    Seriously, the amount of money we spend on dressess for dauschounds could feed a small starving country. Of course, the fact that the amount of money I spend on latte’s could do the same thing is, of course, completely irrelevant.

  12. D

    Someone in my neighborhood pushes her cat around in a similar stroller. I almost cooed at her baby as we drove by and then realized with horror that it was a cat.

    That Jeep dog stroller is funny! We have one that looks just like that, except…it’s actually for our baby.

  13. Astrogirl426

    Umm, yeh. Yet another reason I will never, ever live in L.A. Dogs are not accessories, people – they have needs, and one of those needs does not happen to be “getting hauled around in your purse while you shop at 83 different stores in one day”. I swear, the harebrained ideas people get.

    And don’t get me started on the whole, “My dog/cat/chinchilla is my baby.” Um, no, they’re not. They’re a dog/cat/chinchilla, and to think of them as human does them a disservice, not to mention what it says about the pet’s “parent” (am I the only one whose skin crawls when they hear that phrase? Ick).

  14. Elizabeth

    Thank you Maggie for saying what I think every time I see an animal in a stroller. And no, Astrogirl426, you are not alone. My skin crawls every time I hear it too.

  15. ElizabethGS

    This post has made me sad. Usually your site is independent and free from these types of directed judgemental commentaries. I understand poking fun, but calling someone a “nutter” because they do something you’re not fond of is really not fair play.

    I wonder the opposite: why do people have children only to abuse them, ignore them or let them run around freely while I try to enjoy my dinner/listen to a concert/use a restroom – oh the list could go on. Or even better let them when they haven’t fully gotten their sea legs, PUSH a stroller around promptly running into people at random where the parent gives a mild shrug – why does that not qualify as a “nutter”? is it because social standards have proclaimed its right for a kid to flop about but surely not a dog? i see kids all the time kicking and clawing to get out of their strollers.

    I think its fair to say for some making their pets mobile is something that they enjoy or have a need to do (as the person above noted about getting on/off train system). So why again do they get the classification of “nutter”? because they LOVE and care for something as much as you love and care for your child? I also don’t believe the term “baby” is exclusive to human beings.

  16. Mau

    No no… I think that the same kind of self centered people that bring their dog “for a walk” in a stroller, are the same kind of people that bring the dog along for a ride with the family in the car and leave the poor animal for an hour in the car while the family enjoys a meal at a restaurant… regardless of the weather.

    Hence the adjective: nutters.

  17. heather angele

    Actually, I honestly would consider doing this maybe. I have a pomeranian (who I have been known to call my “baby” because I don’t ever want an actual human baby, although I cling to the Cesar Millan way of still thinking of her as a dog and maintain that calm assertive pack leader thing) and she loves to go to the park. However, my time is limited and when I go, it’s usually to jog and/or walk a long distance and she can make it about a 1/4 mile before she literally stops on the trail and refuses to move. She’s just too little and getting too old to go on long walks or run far at all. And while I normally leave her at home, sometimes it would be nice to combine giving my dog the fun and exercise she needs while also getting in exercise myself.

    That said, I couldn’t possible bring myself to send the money on a dog stroller, nor use one. But I can understand why one might want to use one, but probably not for an energetic lab puppy. Come on. The point of walking a puppy is to tire it out so it doesn’t drive you nuts.

  18. Riayn

    I am so glad someone else agrees with me on this stupid contraptions people have to cart their dog around. It is a dog, it is supposed to walk. Look, it even has four legs, each one designed for walking.
    I love my dogs, they are my fur-kids, but they are dogs first and foremost and I believe they are much happier to be walking beside me than to be carted around.

  19. sweetcheese

    Hilarious! And yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but I think Maggie is poking fun at the loopy people who put their completely healthy animals into strollers (or purses) for their own personal reasons/needs/issues/craziness.

  20. Jan

    Oh my god, I haven’t laughed this hard this late at night in a long time. I was a goner after the first paragraph — “My god! Do you need help?! What is wrong with your baby?” sent me over the edge, and “What the hell, nutter?” put me away. I’m sure I’ll burst into cackling laughter several times during the day tomorrow just from remembering it, and for that I thank you!

  21. Meg

    Sigh. Twenty-eight comments, and all but four of them oddly judgmental.

    Maggie, I so held your readership in higher esteem.

  22. Kimberly

    “You’re aware that the phrase “he’s my baby,” when applied to animals, is meant as a joke? Or do you also plan to breast-feed?”


    I have called my dogs my babies. Now obviously, I know they’re not my biological babies. But they rely on me for food, water, shelter, play, companionship, discipline, training and health care. And since I have yet to experience the life-altering epiphany of having a human child I’m on the other side of a HUGE cultural divide in this country. One even bigger than the divide between cheerleaders and chess club members. And I guess that makes it alright for people to mock what I say.

    Back to the lady in the stroller – maybe the dog can’t walk long distances, maybe he gets spooked by the sights and sounds of San Francisco streets, maybe he just likes the stroller. As long as she doesn’t ram your ankles with it, does it really matter?

    The reader comments about the naked guys on the corner were much nicer than this.

  23. rye

    I work as a pet sitter, and I would just like to personally thank you for this post. It’s like middle class America is suddenly going through empty-nest syndrome or something!

  24. Ms. Karen

    We have an ancient lab (she’s 14) and she loves to go to the park to mosey around (running? At her age?). Unfortunately, it is a long walk to the park, so we bundle her up and cart her there so she doesn’t get too tired to enjoy the destination. Besides, the cement sidewalk is hard on her creaky old bones and feet.

    Ah, but when she was younger she would drag us to AND from the park, but now… meh, it’s a mercy thing.

    But… she’s NOT my baby. I promise.

  25. Melissa

    Wow, who knew pets in strollers would spark such a debate?

    I guess I personally felt Maggie’s post was meant for entertainment purposes only. Much like a comedian who might poke fun at politicians, actors, Britney Spears, the obese.

  26. Mari

    Ha! I am in total agreement on this one, and I am a crazy dog “mommy.” Unless your dog has a disability, preventing him or her from walking, there’s no excuse for a stroller.

    Another pet peeve: designer clothes for dogs. Why? Oh, and have you heard of doggles? Yes, doggy sunglasses.

  27. lee

    :) I live in Taiwan and you’d be amazed and appalled at the amount of dogs in strollers and where people take their dogs… I recently saw a woman holding here dog at a sample station in the supermarket… and feeding it mushroom soup form a little sample cup! people are stupid sometimes

  28. Becky

    You crack me up.

    I had to follow your amazon link in this post. And I read the reviews of of that particular pet stroller among others. I was trying to open my mind to instances when spending $100-300 on a pet stroller could be admissible as a sane option. I found, there are very few that ‘sane’ or ‘admissible’ applies to.

    First, an unnerving amount of people actually use them. For their cats and dogs. People take their ABLE BODIED FOUR LEGGED animals for a WALK in a STROLLER. These people are also able to form paragraphs detailing their use of said stroller. You decide which is more shocking.

    Second, people use it as a way to get their animals into public places their furry babies would otherwise be forbidden from. Because restaurant owners assume they are carting around a human child. These people might need to be directed to the applicable reading material provided by their local health code authority … and the patio section of any dog-friendly eatery.

    Third, many 5-star reviews note how helpful it is to have their dog shielded from other customers’ prodding hands. Bewildering. Do you realize your furry baby’s main goal in life is to smush his nose into as many derrieres as possible? Guess not, nutter.

    It’s none of my business, but your $100-300 might be better spent on pet training classes or the obviously necessary shrink. Sorry I can’t provide an amazon link for those.

  29. Francey_Girl

    I am truly laghing my ass off to your comentary on DOG STROLLERS! Yes indeed as a mother of four, I always expected to see a dozing infant, not a hairy mut. That is simply disturbing.

  30. DimKnit

    melissa #33:

    Amen. I laughed. Yes, I am also a little judgey of those people (farm girl…so dogs = protectors – not babies, not inside the house, not to dress up) but I laughed mostly at the confusion of “what’s wrong with your baby?” Like it was Rosemary’s baby! Too funny.

    And I guess if she had made fun of a nutter mom with a baby (read: human child) at the park, that would have been OK?

    It’s equal opportunity mocking around here, folks.

  31. jenalda

    I’m with you, Maggie. I am a dog-loving nut–have pictures of the dog on my cell phone (along with pictures of my human baby)–but I’m not pushing the terrier (whose job, as Becky points out, is to push his nose into as many derrieres as possible) in a flipping stroller. If the dog can walk, it would probably rather do that than be pushed in a stroller. Worse yet are the Snugli-type carriers into which people put their little toy or teacup dogs. Little dogs, as the dog whisperer has pointed out, like exercise, too!

  32. Christy

    I totally agree…except for our neighbor. She takes her dog for walks in a stroller, but he only has three legs. So, at least she gets some exercise, and he gets some fresh air.

  33. Lisa

    I know a few people that use these strollers for their dogs that have difficulties walking. Two of the dogs are senior in age, and the other dog is paralyzed in the back two legs. Since these dogs experience pain and difficulties when trying to walk, these strollers help the owners to give their canine friends a breath of fresh air every now and then. :)

  34. Michelle

    This is crazy. I live in Australia and normally such things are never seen. We have animal lovers here but we’re mostly based in reality. Anyone seen pushing a dog in a stroller would be quietly (so the offender could not be heard) ridiculed. But lo and behold, just two days ago I saw a woman seated at an outdoor cafe with two dogs in the same stroller you’ve linked to. I was on my own, driving past in the car so I had a great conversation with myself about how much the other diners at that cafe were thinking the same thing as me – Crazy woman! In Australia we mostly despise people like Paris Hilton but I’m betting the woman with the stroller was not a natural Australian. She would never go out in public like that if she was.

  35. Pingback: Modern Dog Blog » So glad!!

  36. Liz

    I appreciate the blog and the discussion, but you have missed part of the point regarding strollers/carriers and dogs. I have a 50 lb sheepdog who has also worked as a therapy dog in hospitals for years. She now has arthritis and hip dysplasia and can no longer comfortably make the 7 mile weekend jaunt that she loves along Richardson Bay in SF area. So now she does the first mile, I load her in the “stroller” (which looks like those carriers people tow their kids in behind their bikes) and we do the next 3 that way, and then she walks for another mile, etc. Seems like a good solution to me. We both get the fresh air and exercise. So when you see a stroller scenario, it isn’t necessarily about people dressing up their dogs.

  37. Bubbles

    Bwah! Okay, I admit, my cats are my fur children. They are spoiled brats. But dog strollers? I think we pretty much all agree that for *able bodied* dogs and cats, these are silly silly things. (Yes, I understand the exceptions for older or infirm pets who still want to go out. My mom’s golden retriever was one of these.) So I’m not really seeing the judgmental here, except where judgmental is defined as “not agreeing 100% with me”.
    I have to admit to using our more docile cat to test out the baby carrier I just got (for the actual human baby I am having). But I promise not to take him out in public that way!

  38. Miss K.

    This is why it’s rare for me to travel north of where I live (I’m on the peninsula)–it’s hard for me to handle seeing stuff like this. Now, I’m sure those strollers were invented for a proper reason, and that’s fine, but when you have people who use them frivolously, well, then I just don’t get it.

    I should probably point out that I realize I may be repeating someone else’s sentiments–sorry about that! I don’t actually read the commentary on this blog. I made that mistake some time ago, and it just made me angry at those quick to snap.

  39. andrea

    Unless the dog has three legs, bad arthritis, or some other health reason, the dog should be walking. And though my Irish Wolfhound has 3 legs due to cancer, I don’t push him in a stroller because damn, pushing 175 pounds would suck, I would feel like a weirdo, and he gets around just fine. I guess I’m a bad “dog mother.”

  40. star

    seriously hilarious…and yet sad. but, i proudly call my dog my baby and forever will. i don’t have a baby of my own. so there. :P

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