March 2015 Archives

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I take the PATH train every day. A few years ago they rolled out their new subway trains, and I was personally thrilled that we were getting an updated, new design similar to the NYC subways which were rolled out only a couple of years prior. What struck me as odd is the design of the PATH subway seat. It is designed with a good intention - that each rider can get their own seat. Unfortunately, they were designed for a subway rider who were not a typical American. Every single day I ride the subway, the seats are "open", but as you can see my picture above - is someone going to squeeze themselves into the open seats?

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As you can see above, the NYC subway bucket seats make much more sense. I find it surprising that the PATH didn't use the same design. Typical NJ. How many times do you take the PATH and see open seats?

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Local storyteller and The Moth champion, Adam Wade made a comment on his Facebook page, with a funny cartoon about trying to work at a coffee shop.

Which made me think. Why don't we just add coffee shops to our Public Library at 500 Park Avenue?

From what I am told City Hall does not control the library. It is made up of a board, along with a director. They are independent of city control, but the board members are appointed by the mayor for 5 year terms. So, whereas it is technically independent from City Hall, it still is comprised of people appointed by our mayor.

Think of the possibilities:

1. To get a cup of coffee, latte or cappuccino near to the park, there is only Empire Coffee and Tea on 4th and Bloomfield. This location would be on 5th between Park & Willow.
2. It would encourage more people to use the library as a social gathering point for doing work, rather than Starbucks.
3. The City of Hoboken & The Public Library generates revenue from leasing its location and that money can be used for renovations, upgrades and purchases to make the library even better.

Everybody wins!

Lets make this happen, Mayor Zimmer and our Library Board!

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Tom wrote in:

"Hi there,

I am looking at getting a frenchy. I am obsessed and have been researching them for the past year or so on and off.

My only issue is health costs. I'm a student and am worried about the potential vet bills that may arise. I have noticed a lot seem to be due to their soft palate and hips/back.

Do you have any idea on the actual chances of Surgery if bought from a reputable breeder and how much you think a frenchys vet bills would on average cost? Are all these health issues actually a big issue or are they more of a buyer beware notice and are actually not that common?

This will be my second dog (first was a family one).

Thanks so much"

I can't speak for all French Bulldogs, but have learned the following:

1. Any pure bred dog should be bought from an AKC certified breeder, and its probably in your best interest to do your research on the breeder. Rocco was from a hobby breeder who bred Frenchies for a short while and stopped. From what I learned about the breeders they loved Frenchies and had some champion dogs over the years.

2. Often you get what you pay for. Buying a dog at a pet store is an exceptionally bad idea. Buying a dog online can be hazardous (Full disclosure: I did this, but did my research from previous owners and talked to the owner who lived in Ohio before buying Rocco).

3. Most people will tell you that the healthiest dogs are often mutts. Not all of them. But a lot of the mixed dogs you can find at shelters are great dogs. I wanted a Frenchie, and I think everyone has a right to get the dog they want. If I had a big farm, I would own 10 dogs. But I have a small condo in the city, and I felt I needed a lower energy dog that was good for small living. Yes, there are rescues that are certainly going to fit into that category, but believe it or not I had trouble finding French bulldog rescues. Also Rocco was my first dog, and I kind of wanted to learn how to raise a dog properly first before learning how to raise a rescue. I think the next time I get a dog, I will lean towards a rescue more now since I am more well versed in raising a dog.

4. Rocco had some issues early on. Of course as a protective dad - every sniffle and cough I would rush him to the vet and was convinced he was dying. I would say over the years from the neutering costs to shots and basic vet visits I paid out at least $1,000. At least, if not more. This is something to consider when you get a dog. You also can look into getting Pet Insurance. It is a bit of a gamble, but often the costs of insurance is a break even if you get it early enough. I looked into Pet Insurance for Rocco, and did the math - I figured I would opt out and simply pay out of pocket.

The two things you want to consider when getting a dog is Time and Money.

you have enough time to spend with your dog? You can't keep them trapped, alone for 12 hours while you are at work only to spend 4 hours with your pooch and then go to bed for 8 hours. That isn't fair.

Do you have enough money to spend on your dog? There are vet bills, doggie day care or dog walker costs, food costs, and emergency costs that do add up. You should seriously be prepared for this. Also a French Bulldog from a good breeder often costs from $2000 to $4500 for ONE dog. There is no such thing as a "cheap French bulldog". If you Googled that and found my page - HELLO. I'll repeat that - if you are looking for cheap French bulldogs, they do not exist. You are probably being swindled by someone who claims they have cheap French Bulldogs when they really just took a pug and crossed it with a bulldog and got something similar looking. Do your research. Are they AKC certified? Does the breeder have a history of breeding reputable Frenchies? Is the breeder located in the US or Canada (watch out for foreign breeders who ship to the U.S. - they can be organized crime related activities especially when they offer a dog at the "low price" of $1000).

This falls into the buyer beware category. Do your homework. And good luck!!

Living alone - should I own a dog?

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We had an email this week from Jenn:

Hello,

I stumbled upon your blog while googling about french Bulldogs. Rocco is such a beautiful dog btw. I am dying to own a dog, a french bulldog in particular however, I live alone in a condo in NJ, I work in the city and gone from 7am til 7pm most days. Given that scenario, is it practically impossible to own a dog? I have the funds for a dog walker a few times a week but still, my work schedule is pretty routine. How can I make this work, if at all?

Would love some advice!

Thank you,
Jenn


This is a tough call.

I work from 7am to 4pm. So i'm back after a day of work and Rocco seems just fine. I walk him a lot and he seems happy enough.

I would say that you can do it, as long as you don't stick your dog in an apartment all day. If you are willing to do doggie day care 5 days a week and not a dog walker, then I think that is more fair to the dog. Especially in the early formative years. Rocco I had a dog walker walk him twice a day at 11am and then at 2pm, and I would get home by 5pm. I tried to make sure he didn't go more than 3-4 hours before a walk up until he was 6 months old.

After 6 months I then had doggie day care two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday. I would have the dog walker see him Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This cost me $100+ a week. I was spending $400 a month or more on my French Bulldog for dog walks and doggie day care. It paid dividends in the long run, he's a socially well adjusted dog and now that he's older, he is OK with hanging around at home by himself. Would he even be happier in doggie day care - I bet he would, but like I said I considered it to be more necessary when he was younger.

Also if not a French Bulldog - what about adopting a rescue? If you think about it, dogs are killed every day because they can't get a good home. Even if you are working 12 hours a day, I think that's a better home than a poor pooch locked up in a cage.

My advice would be not to get a French Bulldog, or any dog, unless you have the money to keep them happy. I waited until I was 38 before I had the financial security to own a dog and properly care for him. I suggest you do the same.

Sean

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I have explained this before, but feel like it needs to be its own post. I get the "Wee Pad" question a lot via email from Frenchie owners, like this one from Karen:

"I came upon your blog online when I was researching on house training our Frenchie. We are picking him up from the breeder next week. He is 4.5 months old. My only concern is when I go back to work, I don't know how what I should do. We thought about blocking the kitchen and keeping him in the kitchen and hoping he will pee on the training pads. We don't know much about crate training but would rather let him have all the kitchen block off so he doesn't get to the carpet and pee."


The simple answer is: Do not use Wee Pads.

Why? Using a wee pad creates association for the dog. Recently, researchers claim that dogs "forget" in 2 minutes everything that happened to them. They way they do remember things is by routine. If you use Wee Pads in a home, he will associate "going to the bathroom" with indoors, not Wee Pads. This will cause you considerable issues for the future, especially when you go on a vacation and bring your dog to someone else's home - and your dog pees on their new carpet.

See, dogs aren't human. Some dogs will understand that "Wee Pad" means a place to pee. I'm sure it works for some dogs. But you really need to focus your training on "outdoors equals potty". It sounds like a drag, and a lot of people won't do it - but it pays dividends in the future. I will repeat what I wrote before about training your dog:

"When I first had Rocco I would walk him every hour on the hour. Every. Hour. Not when he was sniffing - every single hour of a day I would take him outside for a 5 minute "walk". If he peed, I would be all "GOOD BOY GOOD BOY" and give him a treat. Also I lived in a 3rd floor walk-up with no backyard when I did this. If I can do it, you can, too.

This was for the first 10 days. I know, its winter, and the weather stinks, but if you can't do hourly, how about every 2 hours?

Also if you have her in the house, tie her leash to your belt buckle. Everywhere you go - she goes. If you take a shower - she's in the crate. If you take a nap - she's in the crate. Anytime you cannot see your dog, crate your dog. You aren't hurting your dog. The crate should be out, in the open, with the door open, with toys and a nice blanket in there for her to snuggle on.

Puppy pads are a terrible idea because it makes the dog think that "potty indoors is OK!". Do not, at any cost, use a puppy pad or for the next 10 years you will have a dog that pees inside. I have seen in a hundred times."

Don't use Wee Pads. Please. It only takes a few weeks of consistent training. Today, I walk Rocco at 6:30am and then again at night. He only needs 2 walks a day and pees and poops on each walk. He hasn't had an accident in my condo in 4 years (and he's 5 now). I bring him into stores or other people's houses and he doesn't pee anywhere.

Repost from the last three years, and will continue to repost it until the parade returns.

Often in my blog, I laud Mayor Zimmer. I think she's fantastic, and most everything she has done I have agreed with.

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Most everything.

One of the hot topics where I disagree is the St. Patrick's Day parade. This isn't a simple issue. It's complex. There's certainly a lot of people affected by it, and the most obvious issue that critics point to is "quality of life".

Things that can't be disputed that on our parade day there are lots of people who come to Hoboken who could care less about a parade, and are simply looking for an excuse to drink. Considering that most of our fund raisers (Restore Our Shore at City Bistro or The Gala to Rebuild Hoboken) revolve around serving alcohol. You disagree? Try to have either of those events in a "family friendly" setting. Take away the bars from those fundraisers or any serving of alcohol & move those events to a Wednesday night. Think they would have the same turnout? You and I both know they wouldn't.

As for the issue of crime. Recently the city council discussed that last year crime was down compared to years past, and are using that as a reason why moving the parade to a Wednesday was a success. First off, there were far less people in town last year for the "LepreCon", even if 10,000 people online said they RSVP'd - a simple walk around town proved that there were far fewer people versus years past. Hence...less crime. Don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining. Of course if you have less people in town you will have less crime. That shouldn't be a reason to cancel this parade.

Here's the easy solutions that can bring the parade back to the weekends and make everyone happy:

1. Schedule it for a Sunday, not a Saturday. The argument from The Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Committee was that participants could not do a weekday parade because many of them are working. Saturday was the reason, but i'm sure most people will be able to make a Sunday parade. Plus, most younger adults can drink with wild abandon on a Saturday afternoon, whereas most younger adults may have a good time - but many of them have jobs on Monday and that will temper HOW drunk they get.

2. Move the Parade to Sinatra Drive. This is for multiple reasons. One, the argument from store owners is that they didn't like so many people blocking their store fronts. Two, this blocks major traffic on Washington Street. Three, people live along Washington Street & are affected by the quality of life. Let's move it to Sinatra Drive, where people can easily line up and watch the parade, with NYC as the backdrop. Have the parade begin at 11th Street and "end" at the Beer Garden, with Erie-Lackawanna Park and Hudson Place cars & taxis removed. People who want to watch the parade without having to listen to loud music & revelers along Washington Street can enjoy it without people bumping into them or making noise.

3. Create a Beer Garden for people to drink & charge them. We have similar tents for The St. Ann's Festival. Plus the St. Ann's Festival has live music. The Nerds played there last time. Why not do the same thing for the St. Patrick's Day event? We had Mumford & Sons play on Pier A last summer. I would do the same event, with live Irish Bands. This would do two things: 1. Less house parties and 2. Keep the drinkers in a place where they can be easily controlled.
It won't stop the house parties. It won't stop bars from having people drink. What it will do is diffuse those events by taking the 17,000 people who would normally be at a house party or a bar - and put them in front of the police. It will allow us to hire Class 2 police or, perhaps, a professional security company (like ones you see at other outdoor concerts) to patrol the "St. Patrick's Day Beer Garden", while "regular" police can patrol the city and respond to calls of disturbances. Visibly intoxicated people at the Beer Garden will be removed with zero tolerance.
Also, the money raised from this event can offset the clean up costs. Mumford & Sons attracted 17,000 people - and they sold beer at that event. Lets imagine to attend the Beer Garden you need a wristband to enter, each wristband is $5. Beer is $4 each, much like you would find at any bar in Hoboken. The wristbands alone would generate $85,000 (17,000 times $5). That's not including what the beer would generate, which I would hazard to say if everyone had 1 drink, that would be $51,000 (this includes beer costs, which would probably be $1 per drink, so expect $3 profile per beer). Also, I would hire for this event licensed Hoboken bartenders at $200 each - and there will be plenty of them available that aren't working the bar that day (trust me, as someone who bartended for 10+ years you can find free bartenders who want to make easy money pouring beer.


4. Create a "Family Friendly" area at the Hoboken Little League field. Its a large open space which is close to the parade & allows for kids and adults to watch the parade pass by on Sinatra Drive - with a fenced in area so its easy to watch your kids!

5. Work with the bar community. I know more than this than the average citizen. I happen to be friends with many bar owners. You know what they all say - they didn't like the parade. Yes, it increases revenue. But the headache of dealing with drunks on that day - by hiring more security and dealing with drunks really doesn't make it "worth it". An interesting idea would be the following: Bar owners agree that patrons need to buy wristbands to enter their bars - just like the beer garden. The wristbands are a $5 charge, and proceeds will go towards the city. Bars need to "buy" them from the city before the parade.
So, for example, Bar XYZ buys 1,000 wrist bands for that day or $5,000 which they resell. Now, no one is stopping Bar XYZ from selling those at a fair market value. They could sell them at $5....or $20. We all know that bars have a cover on parade days - plus people can then go to the bar or the Beer Garden. Say someone wants to do a few hours at the Beer Garden, and then join their friends at a bar - they can flash their wristband and don't have to pay a cover. People will say "Why should I pay for a $20 wristband at Bar XYZ, when its only $5 at the Beer Garden". Simple, supply and demand and the bars choice on what they price.
Also if someone leaves the bar for a smoke or whatever and they return with a wristband - then they aren't charged a cover again. The bar is "asked" to buy the number of wristbands equal to their occupancy. So, if Bar XYZ has 300 capacity, they buy $1500 worth of wristbands (if not more), which they make their money back by selling to people at $5 each - or maybe even giving those wristbands for free to their "regulars" (the bar eats the cost of $5, like a buyback). This is the easy way to create a Parade Tax, and if you figure we have 80 bars in town and even 40 of those bars get on board and buy on average 200 wristbands, that is $40,000 that the bars just generated for the city - if not more. Its more money than the ill-planned "fund" that Mayor Zimmer tried in 2009. Plus, my idea is $5 for a wristband. You could make them $10 each.

Use the parade to our advantage. My ideas would absolutely work, generate revenue for clean up costs and security costs - I hazard to say the city could generate $175,000+ on parade day (and that's a conservative estimate). It would satisfy the parade committee and if not keep all the curmudgeon homeowners happy, it would satisfy most of them except for the vocal NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) types who will never be happy.


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