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Manhattan Sideways: A Dog’s Eye View

As we continue walking the side streets of our beloved borough and uncovering its hidden treasures, we are constantly impressed by the creative ways in which 1.6 million people find space to live together on this tiny island we call home.

And yet, when we aren’t focusing on the New York skyline, we realize that Manhattan is also home to an estimated 300,000 dogs. While it might, initially, seem insane to care for a pup in the Big Apple, the furry friends we have met on the side streets seem amazingly content in their city home.

True, the life of a city dog is nothing like that of Lassie, Balto, Toto or Old Yeller, and certainly not the Obama’s Bo, but Manhattan has developed a rich dog culture all its own. Various parks and green spaces provide our dogs with the necessary freedom from their owners, but Manhattan dogs are also intimately connected with the human world that sprawls across the city grid. Walking each street in its entirety from the East River to the Hudson, we are thrilled to share some of the pet-centric places we have discovered.

Many stores in the city allow dogs to enter, and several provide biscuits and free water for them. Some places go so far as to cater specifically to the pooches — while standing on line at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, we realized that the dogs hanging around were on line too! Shake Shack actually offers a doggy menu, consisting of items such as Poochini, a chilled dog biscuit with peanut butter and vanilla custard. The life of an urban dog has never tasted so sweet.

Manhattan has also developed an entire industry catering to its four-legged citizens. Doggy daycares have popped up everywhere to give dogs daytime space to play while their humans are at work. Paws, on West 24th Street, arrived twenty years ago as the first cage-free social daycare for pups — many more have since followed. Other doggy daycares such as Biscuits and Bath, Spot Experience, D is for Doggy, and Wiggly Pups provide multiple services such as grooming and overnight stays. Many of these daycares feel more like luxury dog hotels or spas.

For people who do not want to leave their dogs behind, but who want to treat them to some good old New York City extravagance, the side streets are filled with even more options for pup pampering: At Whiskers, dogs can join in the health craze by browsing the organic, non-toxic, and homeopathic goods – their very own personalized Whole Foods. New York dogs also have ample opportunities to participate in the New York fashion scene — at Wagwear, doggies can adorn themselves with the chicest accessories around, and at Hannari & MG pups can find full body outfits perfectly designed for their four-legged frames.

These are just a few of the intriguing pet-related side street businesses — click here to discover even more fabulous businesses to pamper your pooch!

Walking the Side Streets on Four Legs

We love checking out all the dog-centric businesses that dot the side streets, but the dogs who live here are really the stars. We have met so many wonderful doggies and their owners walking the streets, and we are privileged to share a few of their stories.

Beefy & Patrick
Perhaps the most entertaining dog that Manhattan Sideways has met on the side streets is Beefy, the skateboarding bulldog, and his owner, Patrick. Beefy has become a bit of a New York celebrity, riding around on his personalized skateboard to the delight of his urban neighbors. One of Beefy’s favorite side street spots to hang out is the ritzy, yet quirky, D Pet Hotels. Watch our video on Beefy to see and hear more about his life on the side streets.

Frodo & Andrew
We bumped into Andrew and his mini Australian Labradoodle, Frodo, on the corner of 22nd street. As Andrew’s wife, Dawn, told us, “Frodo is a bundle of love. He beelines to strangers assuming they want to pet, kiss and adore him.” While walking the side streets, this family has met “whacky, friendly, mean, and crazy” people – once they met someone who puts his dog on a treadmill every morning for exercise. Since 2001, the family has been exploring the area and named a few of their favorite human spots for us – Barry’s Bootcamp, Yogamaya, Joe, Cowlicks, and Sugar Cookies.

Jasmine & Janet
Janet is a marketing consultant; Pilates and hoop dance instructor; and the creator of byootiful.com. While all three jobs keep her busy, she always has time to spend with her adorable tiny Yorkie, Jasmine. Janet described her neighborhood as being full of “thick, muscle-y guys with matching French Bulldogs,” so her little pup stands out quite a bit. Janet met Jasmine at a dog rescue where she was fostering dogs in need of homes. Jasmine ran onto her lap, lips and jawbone cut from abuse, and Janet took her home. Recently, while avoiding other dogs, Janet and Jasmine discovered the Thomas English Muffin factory, a building that has rested on 20th street since 1880.

Guy & Anna
Although Anna has owned a genetic test kit for three years, she is still unsure about Guy’s official breed. Living on 20th street, Anna knows the side streets well, and Guy does too. Shopping with his owner since he was a puppy, Guy is also very well-behaved – it is no wonder he receives treats everywhere he goes – the bodega, the liquor store, and more. With Guy by her side, Anna loves to walk the side streets of Chelsea in the fall, especially 21st street between 8th and 9th Avenues. She told us that “there is one house with a purple door that has the most gorgeous tree in front of it, and in the fall, it’s pure magic.” The only bad habit that Guy has, Anna says: sniffing people’s butts.

Addie & Melanie
Melanie embodies what Manhattan Sideways is all about. As she explained, “We always prefer to walk on the side streets. Partially because it helps us to explore the neighborhood and find new things that we don’t see on our way to do errands, and partially because it’s less crowded on the side streets and we tend to run into more dogs that way.” Her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Addie, has brought her into a group of dog lovers in Harlem – a small community that represents a very New York way of being. The dog owners in her neighborhood all know each other by name, and on the first Saturday of every month they gather for coffee and dog biscuits. When the city dropped off mulch at the top of a neighborhood hill, everyone carried it together to shovel and rake it across the park. One day, while running on 139th Street, Addie came to a halting stop to stare at two giant stone statues of lions. Her breed was bred to hunt lions in Africa, and even in New York City she maintains her wild instincts. Regardless, Addie is a complete sweetheart, loved and known by many on her street.