From the photo book “Through the Lens: Yellow Rivers”, edited by P. McTurate

Man’s Best Friend (On A String)

Unconditional Love, Neutered

aleXander hirka
6 min readApr 11, 2019


I live in Manhattan and every morning I see them out there — the proud sleepy-eyed owners whose first cup of coffee hasn’t quite hit yet—tugging around by the neck their prize, their pet, their mammal-on-a-string.

From Binky to Rex, with cuteness, size, fur, and aggressiveness to suit every gender, personal style, and financial status—they’re out there to do three things, if you include getting a bit of fresh air.
(The many lists online of “best dog names, by gender”, have been helpful in the writing this piece.)

Before we jump into this deep inquiry of man’s-best-friend-on-a-string, let’s all begin with a Mindful Meditation: There are approximately 600,000 dogs in New York City —now, focus your mind on the thousands of gallons of little yellow streams trickling their way down city streets every day. Establish your concentration, and you will be able to objectively observe the flow of thoughts, and urine.

Might as well try talk to Teddy or Luna because the owner won’t read it.

NYC Fun Fact: The “curb your dog” idea lost traction around the time that the iceman stopped coming.
It is a rarity to see Buddy or Princess anywhere near the curb — they’re busy sniffing and marking all the other spots where Lucy and Pepper have pissed and shat.
And these sniffs and pees must be short and informative because (ow!)—every few seconds that leash tugs on the neck—time to move on, Mommy has a pedicure appointment this morning.

The sidewalk flower gardens — with all manner of signs pleading for the plant’s lives — still get no attention from the humans (who are distracted by Beyoncé running up the wires into their ears). The vegetation is alas still watered by Daisy or Teddy and often it does not survive.

There are laws in New York City against bringing animals-on-strings (unless they are service animals) into groceries stores (health issues) or on subways (unless they’re in a container). But more and more often mammalian scoflaws have taken to boldly ignoring these rules.



aleXander hirka

Writer, visual artist, philosopher, autodidact, curmudgeon. More than half of what i do is make believe.