I adopted my 13-year-old Yorkie-poo in 2005, around the time that the show The Simple Life was big and Paris Hilton was oft seen toting her Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, around in designer handbags. Tiny dogs seemed like the next…thin flip phone.
But I didn’t get a puppy to be fashionable. I got him because I was a depressed mess who could hardly bring herself to brush her teeth. I’d just gone through a breakup and thought a furry belly might be softer on my tear-stained face than Kleenex. A puppy, I reasoned, would be like a friend who would force me to get out of the house and, you know, make me do things. Like pick up poop.
Over the years, Amos has become an amazing pal. And he continues to force me to get out of the house more than I otherwise would. Since Amos had no choice about who he got to spend his life with, I feel compelled to make his days enjoyable. What’s more, doing things with him is more fun than doing them alone, and the fact that there are simply fewer things you can do in this city with a dog than without a dog whittles down the options, which I find helpful!
Here are some of our favorite things to do together—outdoors and in:
Take a Swim
Were I a wealthy woman, I’d bring Amos to Water4Dogs in Tribeca every week. Swimming is his absolute favorite thing to do, and this place has a pool just for dogs—the only place of its kind in the city. That’s the good news. The bad news is, because it’s meant for physical therapy rather than recreation, it’s probably the most expensive pool you’ll ever go to. But can I really put a price on my dog’s happiness? And is there anything cuter than watching a dog jog on an underwater treadmill?
Should you choose to order a ham and Swiss frittata with a side of country sausage for a date who just happens to be seated on the cement, no one will give you a funny look.
Ride a Bike
New York City has gotten increasingly bike friendly in the years since I’ve had Amos, and he and I have taken great advantage of that fact. The newest model of Citi Bikes has a flat area in front of the handlebars where, if you muster your inner Girl Scout, you can manipulate a bungee cord around a dog in a bag. Amos prefers riding in a backpack. Our go-to bag is the Dune backpack made by French pet-product company Bobby. It is suitable for dogs up to around 20 pounds. For larger dogs, I usually suggest the K9 Sport Sack. Of course, I don’t let him ride without a helmet.
Eat a Burger
Truth be told, my dog is also my dishwasher. He waits patiently until I’m done with my meal, then he does the rinse cycle. So he is no stranger to some of the delicacies that grace my plate. But he doesn’t usually get a whole meal of “human” food…unless we take a trip to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, which has dog-friendly outdoor tables. For its pup clients, it serves the Poochini, which is just human vanilla custard garnished with a couple of Bocce’s Bakery dog bones.
Grab a Drink
If it’s cold or rainy, my go-to place to tie one on with my furry buddy is d.b.a. in the East Village. The city has been known to dole out hefty fines to places that are found mingling dogs with food and drink, but the powers that be at this long-standing watering hole don’t seem to care. The bartenders often have treats behind the bar, and there are frequently dog birthday parties in full swing in its outdoor space, which has a roof, making it usable even in poor weather.
Play With Friends
If you find yourself with a dog and a spare afternoon in the East Village, visit the Stuyvesant Dog Run. Unlike most of the other local dog runs, it doesn’t smell like pee. I think this is due to its paved stone surface—many others are covered in gravel or mulch, which soak up urine like a sponge. It’s also large enough that dogs can retreat to their own spaces as needed. However, if you’re a resident of the area, I suggest you look into joining New York City’s only private supervised dog run. Full disclosure: I own it! It is called the School Yard and located inside School for the Dogs. We have an indoor-outdoor space open to no more than six dogs—who must be accompanied by their people at all times. Advance reservations are required, and there is always a trainer present. It’s not intended for drop-ins.
Hang at a Café
Manhattan is home to Boris & Horton, one of the country’s only cafés that is dog friendly, a feat that was approved by the Department of Health by making an area that serves food and drink, and a completely separate area that has, that’s right, dogs. I bring Amos there when I want to work from a café. Not that strange dogs in tight spaces often don’t get along. Nevertheless, if you’re a dog lover visiting the city, you should go: There’s a small shop featuring a cute selection of dog duds and doodads, and the eatery serves several variations of avocado toast.
Thanks to laws that don’t recognize that many New Yorkers pay more attention to their dogs’ cleanliness than they do their own, dogs cannot actually go inside the Barking Dog, a dog-themed restaurant in Yorkville, but they are welcome in the outdoor seating area. (Thanks to a recent change in the law, dogs are now allowed to hang in all outdoor restaurant seating.) The bistro is outfitted with canine-themed tchotchkes inside and has a fountain just for dogs outside, and the waiters treat them like customers, bringing them water and treats. Should you choose to order a ham and Swiss frittata with a side of country sausage for a date who just happens to be seated on the cement, no one will give you a funny look. BD seals the deal with drink specials just for those who arrive with pooches—$3 shots, $6 for beer or wine, and $7 margaritas—all day during the week and after 4 p.m. on weekends.
The only thing better than a morning dog walk on a lovely day in the city is…walking him with a coffee in hand. There are a handful of spots where canines and coffee can coexist. One is the Intelligentsia café inside the High Line Hotel on the High Line—which just so happens to be a lovely place to walk a dog.
Shop It Up
Dogs are only permitted on the subway if they’re in a bag, but they’re allowed to be on four paws at the Columbus Circle Turnstyle Underground Market, which is home to the cute Dog & Co. boutique. To be sure, it mostly has products meant to please humans more than their charges, but no dog ever turned down a squeaky toy that looks like a can of La Croix sparking water or fled a person wearing a T-shirt that reads “Dog Walking Is My Cardio.” Down in the East Village, dog owners flock to Love the Beast, a shop best known for its selection of canvas dog totes, treat-dispensing toys, and knit stuffed toys with New York themes: a black and white cookie, a “We are happy to serve you”–style coffee cup, and a bagel with cream cheese. Does it get more New York than strolling around with a bagel in one hand and a leash in the other?
Annie Grossman is a writer and dog trainer in New York City. She has been a columnist for The New York Times, The New York Observer, and the New York Post, among other publications. She owns and operates School for the Dogs in NYC and hosts School for the Dogs Podcast.