- Posted by Gilleen Witkowski
- On August 7, 2018
- 0 Comments
- city living, condo living, condos, puppies, Toronto architecture, Toronto design, Toronto dog walker, urban planning
Naama Blonder and her husband live in a 2-bedroom apartment overlooking Grange Park in downtown Toronto.
They don’t have a dog yet, but it won’t be long before they join the thousands of young Toronto professionals who bring home their dream puppy (in Naama’s case, likely a corgi).
On the walls are framed artistic sketches of the cities they’ve lived and studied: Tel Aviv, Paris, and now, Toronto. A large whiteboard lists bullet points in English and Hebrew, the beginnings of master plans and projects.
Naama and Misha with their giant board game Urban Blocks
They founded Smart Density, an architecture and urban design firm here in Toronto that is all about urban living and improving the pedestrian experience.
Naama was a part of a team exploring City of Toronto design guidelines to explore how condos might become more desirable for families.
I spoke with Naama about one element – living with dogs in downtown Toronto.
Where I grew up in rural Ontario, dogs spent a lot of time outdoors in the fields and on the farms, and it was considered strange – even cruel – that they would ever live in a city. Are times changing?
Naama: Absolutely dogs can and do live in the densest of cities. But we need to plan for them. Houses are not affordable for many in our generation. People are asking themselves: “are we going to commute to work for an hour or more each way, or are we going to live in a condo downtown? How do we adapt our lifestyle to condo living?”
Cash getting a visit from his dog walker
How can people adapt their lifestyle to include dogs in condos?
Naama: There’s the unit level, the building level, and the neighbourhood level. A lot of the planning responsibility is on architects, builders, and politicians. But there are some things individuals can do too.
Let’s start with your unit.
Condo units are small. With smart design, most of your needs can be met at the overall building level. Even so, balconies are quite helpful with pets. We wrote 8 tips for designing balconies that people will actually use – this can help you determine how often and when you will use your balcony.
Dogs need to go outside often for exercise and well-being. Most people work outside the home, and benefit from dog walkers and other professionals to help out during the day (see: Toronto the good (for pets): How to reasonably own a dog in the big city).
Next, there is the building level.
Buildings need to convert underutilized physical spaces into dog-friendly and family-friendly spaces. Think for example, a mud room. A place to clean the dogs – or wash off mud from a soccer game.
Another example – party rooms are mostly vacant, and kids and dogs usually get along. Why not do family-friendly potlucks inviting everyone? As a special guest, a dog trainer could attend and teach kids how to read dog body language.
Lastly, when you’re living with a dog in your condo, think about the neighbourhood.
Every park is a condo’s backyard. You’ll want to spend time in them with your dog, and possibly in the off-leash parks available as well. You may be able to advocate for more off-leash spaces in and around your condo, or simply more green spaces in your neighbourhood. Those green spaces are essential.
What is your #1 piece of advice for Torontonians who want to live with their dogs in condos?
Toronto is rapidly changing and so is the idea of where you “should” raise children, have pets, and how much stuff we really need. Living in urban communities has a lot to offer and the city is yours to explore and enjoy with your best friend.
Walk My Dog Toronto offers dog walking services and in-home pet care services in downtown Toronto. With easy online booking, we walk your dog while you are busy or at work. We give your dog love, socialization, and exercise, and we keep in touch with you every step of the way with our walk tracker.