Elevators are a part of city life. Duchess Poppy loves to run up and down the stairs in our building. It’s good exercise for both of us. But, sometimes we take the elevator, so she's had to learn that elevators have rules.
Everyone has been sending me links to a scary video of a dog almost strangled by a leash caught in an elevator door. The current version is one of many horror stories that have circulated through the years.
Ed and I address this issue by insisting that Poppy enter the elevator on a shortened leash, by our side, with a person between her and the sliding door. That way she can’t be hit by the door, end up alone in the elevator, outside of it, and cannot have her leash caught in the mechanism. On her own, she has mastered hopping over the space between the floor and the elevator car.
Unfortunately, every community has fools who think rules don’t apply to them. Our building requires that all dogs be on leash in the common areas. Yet, an elevator door will open and a dog will bound out to greet us.
Most of the time, this is a minor annoyance. Poppy's friendly and won’t react badly to a dog near her. But, what about a person who is afraid of dogs or someone who has a reactive pup?
Unless a fellow elevator passenger has already shown a fondness for dogs, we ask, “Do you mind riding with a dog?” Any flicker of doubt in a person’s expression or reply means we wait for the next car.
I remember the relief in the eyes of a young woman, who had always kept her distance from our dog, when we asked that question one day. She quickly admitted she was terrified of dogs and was stressed at the thought of having even a small one in the elevator with her.
Other Tips for Ups and Downs
Once in an elevator, keep your leash shortened. If possible, place your dog in a corner or against a wall, and have him sit until you give the okay to heel next to you and exit.
If you are riding with another dog, don’t encourage greetings or play inside this confined space. Either animal could become territorial or react in an unusual way because of the unnatural setting. Here again, we often wait for the next car rather than overcrowd the pups.
If you have an emergency ride because your pup indicates he has to relieve himself, take clean up materials with you. Puppy training pads are great to have for these occasions. Should there be an accident, do a complete clean up with an enzymatic product and notify your building’s cleaning service. Other dogs will be tempted to cover the scent left behind.
When it comes to escalators, I say you have three choices: carry your dog, take the stairs, or the elevator. In a press release, the MSPCA wrote, “Every year veterinarians at Angell see on average two to three dogs whose legs and feet have been mangled by escalators—and in most cases emergency surgery is necessary for the animal to recover.”
Like most etiquette and safety matters, this is all common sense. Think before you act. Don’t let down your guard. Protect the ones you love and be a good neighbor.
Words: Penny Cherubino (Previously published as a CIty Paws newspaper column
Photography: © 2014 Ed Cherubino, City Of Boston Archives, and Chris