Frankly ... Berlin
Among dogs

Dogs in Berlin
Dogs in Berlin | Photo (detail) © picture alliance / abaca

There are 100,000 dogs living in Berlin – our columnist Gerasimos Bekas knows them all. Today he grants you exclusive insights into the world of the disturbed residents.

By Gerasimos Bekas

I am one of those people who does not need to set an alarm to get up in the morning. No, it’s not because my body clock automatically wakes me at the right time. It’s because I have neighbours with dogs who meet up outside my window every morning at 6:30. The problem is not the dogs, as they bark only rarely.
The problem is rather the dog owners, who loudly call their dogs, shouting “Come here, Jonny, come here,” or who get into arguments with other dog owners and passers-by. For example, dogs in Berlin have to be kept on a leash in public places, and nobody is allowed to let their dog roam free. This is ignored by many people, however, which leads to loud arguments that are generally a good example of the bark being worse than the bite.
Berlin is home to more than 100,000 dogs, all of which have to be taken out for walks. Most live in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district, relatively few in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and the loudest of all clearly live on my doorstep. Berlin’s enthusiasm for dogs leaves its mark all over the city.
I am rarely out and about in Berlin without spotting someone who is standing on the edge of the pavement, cursing and trying to wipe dog excrement off their shoes. The problem is so old and widespread that people now hold the superstitious belief that it is lucky to step in dog poo. Rarely has anyone described with such bluntness and precision how Berlin’s love of dogs affects the city streets as Peter Fox does in his song Schwarz zu blau.
“Und überall liegt Scheiße, man muss eigentlich schweben
Jeder hat 'nen Hund, aber keinen zum Reden” (And there’s shit everywhere so the best thing would be to float through the air / Everyone has a dog but no-one to talk to)
This doesn’t apply to the people on my doorstep at least, as they pick up their dog waste in small plastic bags, and they do talk to one another – albeit too loudly and impolitely for my taste. So as usual in Berlin, the exception remains the rule.

“Frankly …”

On an alternating basis each week, our “Frankly ...” column series is written by Gerasimos Bekas, Maximilian Buddenbohm, Qin Liwen and Dominic Otiang’a. In “Frankly ... Berlin”, Gerasimos Bekas throws himself into the hustle and bustle of the big city on our behalf, reports on life in Berlin and gathers together some everyday observations: on the underground, in the supermarket Frankly … Berlin, in a nightclub.