Walking the dog on a beautiful spring afternoon not long ago, I crossed the street into Union Square Park as a pretty woman strolled past me toward the subway. About 20 feet beyond us, sitting on the walls along the park stairs, were half a dozen young men, around 20 years old, holding sheets of white paper.

As the woman passed between me and the stairs, the boys cheered good-naturedly and held up signs: 9! 8.5! 9.5! The women continued to the south with a look on her face—somewhere between amusement and disgust—as I approached the stairs.

Of course, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

“Is that for me?”

The boys laughed and made faces. “No, man, that was for your dog!” one of them said, petting the pup as we walked by.

Charley did his thing in Union Square (tip for locals: don’t sit on the lip surrounding the perimeter of the interior grass. Just don’t) and we headed for home. The boys were still there, looking for someone worth ranking.

“Hey!” I called out as I got close. “Where’s the love?”

Among the laughter, one of them pulled out a sign. “Yo, this is for your dog,” he said, waving the sign at Charley, who trotted by happily. “He gets an 8.5.”

Not bad, but I think he deserved at least a 9.