I can't say that New Yorkers have an exclusive on making impractical choices, but examples do abound that give evidence that it is at least a worthy contender in any competition for foolish choices. Trends and fads drive residents of this city as much as anywhere else, where it often seems that displays of extreme lack of sensibility is its own form of rebellion.
And what better way for some to display that defiance by sporting a large dog with roots from a climate completely antithetical to that of New York City? Breeds inappropriate in any number of ways for city life, or ones requiring extreme maintenance.
I recall the 1980s, when the Shar Pei, with its heavily wrinkled skin, was all the rage. Rapid breeding resulted in many health problems such as allergy-induced skin problems. Many required eye surgery, with some owners seeking the skills of a eye surgeon for people. I rarely see the Shar Pei here any longer. Akitas were also quite popular at one time. Now I often see the Shiba Inu, a small hunting dog from Japan with a cute, foxlike appearance.
On Sunday, I met Sofie, a beautiful, cheerful, friendly Samoyed - a breed originating from Siberia that is a nomadic reindeer herder. They have a dense double coat, which means lots of hair shedding. They are very youthful, energetic dogs with a desire to pull sleds and a love of the cold. Perfect for the Manhattan apartment resident, n'est-ce pas?
Their cheerful nature and beautiful white coat, for many, outweigh any practical considerations. The breed's ear-to-ear smile has given the Samoyed its alternate name, "smiling sammy."
In fairness, after speaking to the owner, I found that Sofie is very well cared for. It is possible to keep a dog like this healthy and happy in a New York City apartment with work, and many pet owners are ready willing and able to do whatever is necessary.
Samoyeds are extremely well insulated. Sofie actually loves sleeping in the snow. In their native environment, Samoyeds kept their owners warm at night by sleeping on top of them. The dog's owner told me that once it begins to get warm at all, she runs her air conditioning 24/7.
I was surprised to learn that early Samoyeds also came in black - white has become dominant due to popularity. If not for the constant care and responsibility, I could easily fall for the cheerful charm of the Samoyed. I, like many others, do love that white color, and the Samoyed that we see today, more than White by Design, is White by Desire :)