Funky Berlin: The Alternative Life Of The Berlin Dog

6 minutes ago

When I got to Berlin, I was excited to start my study abroad journey.  I had expected that Berlin would run mostly on cash instead of credit.  I expected to be a bit frazzled by the language difference, but after a couple of weeks of visiting my local grocery store, I noticed that dogs were always sitting outside, waiting for their owners.  

I was so interested about this new and exciting thing that I was seeing;  I had never experienced these dog behaviors before.  I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s a European thing?” But when I traveled to Italy, I was proven wrong.  It was so strange to me, coming from the U.S.

I was really interested to get another take on the unique dog culture here in Berlin.

“Sometimes I felt a little bit like a creeper, you know, just standing there, sneaking up on their dog,” says David Lindner, the creator of “Dogs Waiting in Berlin” - a Tumblr blog where users can send pictures of dogs waiting for their owners.

I also sat down with Martin to discuss his dog Pepe, a bilingual Jack Russell Terrier who grew up in New York City.  

A photograph submitted to the blog, Dogs Waiting In Berlin.
Credit Dogs Waiting In Berlin blog

“It’s great having a dog here. It’s not so great having a dog in New York," says Martin.

I heard that there was a rule that the dogs in Berlin are always supposed to be leashed, but it seems like a lot of people don’t follow that.

“Yeah, that’s right," replies Martin. "The law in Germany is clear: You have to have your dog on a leash.”

I asked them what Berliners really thought about this.

“I think that they don’t really give a s---,” says David.

"Berliners just don’t care," agrees Martin.

“I mean, it’s just [that] the dog culture here is very appreciative of dogs," explains David, "and people don’t really mind.”

I learned that dog owners put a lot of time and effort into training their dogs, so that they can be independent in the streets of Berlin.  

Martin comments, “I’m always amazed to see Jack Russell Terriers - knowing Pepe - roam free and not chase after skateboarders and squirrels.”

And then sometimes, dogs just want to be dogs.

“If he’s smelling something really interesting or is seeing another dog at the corner, then his ears don't work," says Luisa, Babbo Ganisha's owner.

During my investigation about dog culture in Berlin, I found out about the conflict that arises between dog owners in Berlin and people who are not so fond of them.

“The discussion was made to ban dogs from two very popular lakes here in Berlin," explains Martin. "Dog owners still bring their dogs there and let them roam free, and it upsets a lot of other people.”

CIEE student and Funky Berlin contributor Heather Charron.
Credit Heather Charron

It only takes one squirrel for my dog to lose his cool, and while I’m excited to see him soon, I know I will appreciate the dogs of Berlin and their tendency to listen and behave properly. 

Funky Berlin is student radio and podcasts from The CIEE Global Institute Berlin that captures the voices, sounds and stories of this vibrant city at the crossroads of Europe and the World.
Giving voice, listening and cross-cultural learning drive, Funky Berlin's mission is to connect and share amongst diverse cultures and generations.
Funky Berlin students learn research, reporting and digital production skills and produce stories in state-of-the-art studios at the CIEE Global Media Center located in Kreuzberg.