There’s nothing like the thrill of a big city. And New York - aka The Big Apple - is no exception.
Last week we arrived in Manhattan amongst the backdrop of peak hour traffic and New Yorkers finishing work for the day. As we commuted to our hotel I was struck by how New Yorkers moved with such pace and purpose. Hustling across pedestrian crossings, checking their look in the reflection of shop windows, talking loudly to each other above the endless sound of car horns and buses, and manoeuvring to miss a near collision with a car or cyclist - all at the same time and without any noticeable concern!
And that was just the dogs ;-)
In the days that followed, Cameron and I became even more amused by the Dogs of New York. Like their humans, they took on a persona that befitted the suburb they lived in. Freshly groomed poodles on the prestigious streets of Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue strutted along sidewalks with a confident, knowing look that told outsiders like us, "I know I look fabulous". And when we approached to have a chat with their humans, these same poodles were quick to show us how utterly bored they were with our gushing oohs and ahhs at just how elegant they were.
One such Poodle is shown below on Park Avenue. Barely offering us a moment to get a happy snap, her perfectly groomed black coat had us feeling a sense of inadequacy that our attire looked so basic in comparison.
Feeling like it was time to get off Park Avenue and get amongst the people – over two million to be precise – we headed to the New York City LGBT Pride March.
Before we so much as saw a Parade float, we were met by the NYPD K-9 Unit. Unsure whether I was allowed to approach (given I was looking at a trained German Shepherd K-9 Officer and its heavily-armed human pack), I thought it best to ask for a photo from a safe distance.
Beautiful though she was, this K-9 was on duty and had no time for small talk. Cameron and I managed a quick pic before wishing the officers a successful day and being on our way.
We parked ourselves on the parade route so we could get close to the LGBT Pride March celebration. The feeling of inclusion and community was overwhelming; everybody was so filled with joy and love. And there was such a sense that no matter who you were, you were welcomed at the Pride March.
We talked with so many locals and met so many dogs. I was actually surprised how many New Yorkers brought their dogs to the event, given the crowds were huge (over one million Parade participants and a similar number supporting from the side lines). In most all cases though, the pooches were completely unphased by the experience; rather, they looked ecstatic to be amongst the action, all dressed up and ready to party long into the afternoon.
I met this hot tamales on my walk down the parade line. Dressed in her rainbow colours, I sensed that if this Chihuahua was a person she would be the pint-sized Ariana Grande with her beautiful big eyes and love of life.
Exhausted by an afternoon spent celebrating under the hot New York sun, we decided that our next outing might need to be at a slower pace, so we headed for Central Park. Between the Bethesda Fountain and Strawberry Fields we found an eclectic mix of dogs that were happy to be out in the sun with their humans, enjoying walks across manicured lawns, leafy fauna and creek beds.
Bee the Chihuahua was first to say hi. 3 years old, she looked the same size as Conan and Barbie Doll’s (our Weimaraners) teddy bears. Totally relaxed in her setting, Bee took us up the Central Park creek bed to introduce us to some of her friends, an Australian Shepherd and a Labrador.
What a heart-breaker...those eyes...!
Now in need of coffee we headed towards the Boathouse and along the way bumped into a bunch of dogs being walked by local dog walkers. I take my hat off to the dog walkers – how they manage to keep so many canines under control and walking in the same direction, at the same time, is amazing to me! Not only that, these dogs looked so happy and relaxed, so much so that they were more than accommodating when I asked for a photo!
As our time drew to a close in New York, Cameron and I used the opportunity to talk the many streets and avenues and soak up the culture; always stopping to chat with any local with a dog! We were particularly curious to understand how dog owners get on in New York, given high rise apartment living is often without any outside areas.
Lauren – a self-confessed dog lover and New York local, told us that it is challenging at times but there is a big community of dog owners throughout Manhattan. Cameron and I could certainly attest to that; from Upper East Side near Central Park, right through to Greenwich Village, there were packs of dogs at every park, and owners walking their dogs down any and every main street.
We may be a long way from Oz, but the Dogs of New York made us feel right at home!