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How a French bulldog meetup in New York became the center of viral debate

"Stop overcrowded, weekly meetups in Carl Schurz Small Dog Run!" the Instagram page's description reads. "FYI, this is not to bash frenchies. We love all dogs!”
Image: French bulldogs Carl Schurz park
French bulldogs play in the small dog run at Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Frenchies of UES via Instagram

Obsession with neighborhood drama is common across the U.S. But in recent years, thanks to apps like Instagram and Nextdoor, and forums like Facebook groups, issues within small communities have unfolded more publicly online.

Most recently, the internet has been captivated by a viral Twitter thread about a French bulldog meetup on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Once a week, roughly two dozen French bulldogs meetup in Carl Schurz Park's small dog park. There, the bulldogs — including Nacho Rosenblatt-King, this reporter's pup — meet for roughly an hour, playing with one another as well as the other breeds who happen to be in the park that day. The Instagram account responsible for these weekly hour-long meetups, Frenchies of UES, started in August 2021. There are about 1,500 followers of the account, which in its description says it's made up of a "community of Frenchies snorting their way around the Upper East Side."

But as the community of frenchies and their owners approaches the one year anniversary of the meet-ups, they're faced with recent resistance from one local resident who is pleading to "stop the meetups" via an Instagram account of the same name.

The account creator, who declined an interview request, has a simple goal posted in their Instagram page's bio: "Stop overcrowded, weekly meetups in Carl Schurz Small Dog Run! FYI, this is not to bash frenchies. We love all dogs!" Their main complaint is this: The park is too small for such a gathering. Their suggestion is that the meetups move to somewhere with a larger dog run.

On Tuesday, the stop_the_meetups account garnered backlash after this reporter’s Twitter thread revealed the existence of a bubbling conflict within the community.

The Twitter thread's virality likely also stems from an overall interest in people obsessing over minor community issues. For example, there's a Twitter account called @BestofNextdoor that highlights content found on the platform. There's also a highly popular podcast called "Normal Gossip," which as it says in its description, focuses on "juicy, strange, funny, and utterly banal gossip about people you’ll never know and never meet."

Stop_the_meetups has said the overcrowding of the park has caused issues for other dog owners.

"With that many people and hyperactive dogs in such a small space, there are many fights, which means the dogs are then put on leashes inside the run, which is against the rules, and puts the leashed dogs at a disadvantage if attacked," the account wrote in a post on June 30. "It also doesn’t allow for owners to properly keep track of their dogs!"

They complained about the person who runs the “Frenchies of UES” Instagram account, calling her “holier than thou” and saying she’s “rude and looks down on other breeds of dogs.” The Frenchies of UES account creator declined to comment, and referred this reporter to its most recent post, which states: "I am always open to respectful feedback on how to improve our relationship with one another and believe a lot of this could've been avoided if this was done. However, harassment online does not result in productive conversation that allows all sides to be heard."

Some who attend the meet-ups have described them as a joyful experience.

Michelle Madonna, who regularly brings her French bulldog Magnolia to the meetups, said she she's made many friends at the gatherings and said the Upper East Side frenchie owners are "a nice little community."

"So it’s upsetting someone dislikes us so much to make a instagram about it," she said.

Madonna said she feels the meetups are important to her because Magnolia struggles to keep up with other breeds of dog, and the meetups allow her pup to get the exercise and playtime she needs.

"It’s a public park and we aren’t doing anything wrong," Madonna added.

The stop_the_meetups account, which has about 85 followers, has said their goal is not to take away the joy of those in the community. Their concerns stem from creating a safe space for all dogs and dog owners in the area.

"The UES is a community and we need to be considerate of others," the account wrote in a post earlier this week, thanking the meet-up group for having a shorter gathering.

Some have agreed, posting comments of support and solidarity with the account. Another person even created a similar account, called stop_frenchy_meetups_nyc. It's amassed almost 1,000 followers. "It’s only a matter of time before no other dogs can participate in the park," the user, who was unavailable for an interview at time of publish, said in their first post.

As for the park itself? A representative for Carl Schurz Park did not immediately respond to request for comment. But on its website, the park outlines rules for dog-friendly areas. It states everyone must "obey the rules, and respect the park and others."

On Wednesday, stop_the_meetups said they will delete the account this weekend after the viral backlash. Instead, they said they aim to resolve their issues with the meet-up founder privately.

"After an attempt to contact the owner of the Frenchies account, I decided that this might’ve been a better way to get her attention, to show that it’s not one person, it’s a lot of people in the area that have these feelings," they wrote in their final post. "The owner of the Frenchies of UES account and I will be meeting privately to discuss how the communities can come to a better solution."