Trend Spotting: Communal Dogs (With Editor’s Note Added 4/4)
An animal behaviorist is concerned by a new DC apartment building’s unique amenity.
With so many new, high-end apartment buildings dotting Washington, prospective tenants have plenty of options to choose from. And building owners are responding by upping their amenities. Twenty-four-hour gyms, heated bike rooms, and rooftop pools are so standard that new developments need too get creative.
W.C. Smith’s 2M, a 314-unit building opening this summer in the NoMa neighborhood, features all that, and is possibly inventing a brand-new amenity in Emmy, a six-month-old English bulldog that will be shared by tenants. Yes, really. A communal dog for residents to borrow in chunks of time like a Zipcar.
“I was sitting at a cafe one day, and we saw a puppy come in and everyone just stopped in their tracks and came alive,” W.C. Smith vice president Holli Beckman tells the Washington Post. “And it just dawned on me that everyone loves doggies and babies, right?”
But as much as a cute, playful creature like Emmy—who has a dedicated Instagram account (obviously)—can melt hearts, experts on dog care are concerned for the pup.
“It’s a cute idea, but oh, no,” says Mary Huntsberry, an animal behavior specialist in Montgomery County. “Not a good idea at all.”
Huntsberry says that offering up a dog like a time-share could have severe effects on its mental and physical health as Emmy is moved from apartment to apartment and cared for by so many different people.
“Certain people think you need to be harsh, that’s not true with another person,” she says. “Dogs can be easily traumatized.”
W.C. Smith’s advertising for 2M says the building is pet-friendly for people who actually own their own dogs, but Huntsberry worries that Emmy is being dumped into a uncertain situation.
“They’re animals, they’re not purses you just lend out to people,” she says. “That’s just nutty.”
Editor’s Note (added 4/4/2014): In response to this article, Anne Marie Bairstow, vice president of marketing and communications at W.C. Smith, writes: “We appreciate Washingtonian’s interest in our 2M Street pet ambassador, Emmy. However, the story had several inaccuracies. The article says that Emmy will be rented out like ‘Zipcar for dogs or like a ‘purse,’ which is, of course, not the case. Emmy will live with the 2M property manager and come to work with him in the leasing office. Residents will be allowed to walk Emmy in the building’s private dog park, but all visits will be closely monitored.” Washingtonian thanks WC Smith for this clarification.