It's not a secret: Berlin (as well as Germany) is suffering from a lack of children. It is NOT suffering from a shortage of dogs. Dogs are everywhere in Berlin. There are few places in this city that you can go without encountering them: they accompany their owners on the subways and buses, in restaurants and cafes, and in many stores. Consequently, Lauren and I have spent this year on constant "cute dog alert." Most dogs, it seems, also run around without leashes. That's not a problem because German dogs (or at least Berliner dogs) must be among the best-behaved four-legged friends in the world. I'm not sure if leash laws exist here or are simply disregarded, but dogs are so well-trained that leashes seem largely superfluous. Dogs walk around with their owners without a leash and show no attention to other people, dogs, or passing distractions. And believe me, we've tried to distract them or get them to even glance at us - totally without success. If the dog lags behind sniffing, it will at least keep an eye out for its owner, just in case he or she ventures off around the next corner. If the dog decides to run ahead, it has been trained to stop at the curb and wait for their owners before crossing the street.
If a sign on the door indicates that dogs cannot enter a certain establishment...
...the dog will wait patiently outside, usually off-leash, focusing intently on the shop entrance and intently scanning each exiting face in anticipation of its returning master. These pictures illustrate a scene all too common around town:
They wait patiently even in the presence of other dogs!
This reality prompts society to go to special lengths to accommodate man's best friend. For instance, outside of Karstadt, you can just stash 'em in one of these "Hundebox" pet lockers (you'll get the Euro coin back when you retrieve the little fella).
Other places will provide dog stations where they can be tied up in comfort, as found here outside IKEA (and you don't even have to put it together first with an Allen wrench):
All this leads me to occasionally wonder if Berliners care more for dogs than they do for children. But, my real question: how can I entice a Berliner to come back to the States to train my dog?!