The article investigates the emergence and continuation of a spatial conflict, concerning a "dog beach" in Santa Cruz, California, that led to the creation of local interest organizations and came to involve city and state authorities and regulations, local news and social media, and not least, park visitors (both humans and dogs). Through the debate, positions for and against dogs being off leash were consolidated—however, not necessarily positions for and against dogs. Several themes emerge through the analysis: safety/risk, disturbance, excrements, and "dogginess," meaning the perceived nature of dogs. The case study is used as an example of not only how urban politics affects the bodies, practices, and movement of people and dogs but also, similarly, how this politics is constantly under the threat of civil disobedience and subversive acts of counterpolitics. It illustrates the dialectics of everyday lives—of the bodies, practices, and movement of people and dogs—and space: the liminal case of the beach. Furthermore, the collective movement of dogs and people is conceptualized as a trans-species urban crowd, threatening a certain ideal public order.
dog, animal studies, urban crowd, urban sociology, liminality, politics of place
2013. Vol. 16, no 1, 28-42 p.