I’ve just returned from filming a couple of TV shows in the States and was lucky enough to have a few days off to explore New York, and see just how pet-friendly the city that never sleeps actually is.
Well quite simply – very! New Yorkers love their pets and spend a great deal of time and money looking after their every need. Sarah Jessica-Parker’s endorsement of pet spas (glamorous poodle parlours) and doggy daycare has helped make them commonplace, with owners prepared to pay upto $60 (£30) a day on their prized pooches.
However Manhattan’s canine créches are more than a group of dogs playing in a room all day; by using principles of animal behaviour and expert dog training techniques they are able to engage visiting dogs with a healthy balance of mental and physical exercise during their stay.
For long-term boarders there are of course the ‘VIP Themed Suites’ – each suite complete with daily turndown service, and individual flatscreen TV & DVD player! Webcams are also the norm here, allowing anxious owners to observe their pampered pets from their offices high-up in the Big Apple’s dizzying skyscrapers.
For exercise, New York pets are spoilt for choice. As well as showing off the latest in fido-fashion on the sidewalk, every neighborhood has its own Dog Park – a safe, clean purpose-built outdoor area (usually within a ‘Human’ Park) where dogs and owners can socialize and play safely.
But if you’ve the time and the energy, there’s only really one place that can’t be beaten to treat your four-legged friend to some fresh air – New York’s famous and massive Central Park (below). I absolutely loved it here, it’s beautiful. Incredible wildlife, lakes, a backdrop to die for, and what a place to spot all sorts of dogs from chilled-out crossbreeds to peaceful Pit bulls, Union-Jack collared British Bulldogs to Teacup Yorkies, as well as some of the brand new trendy fluffy little pedigree mixes, such as Pomchis (Pomeranian x Chihuahua) and Shiffons (Shih Tzu x Griffon).
As well as the usual designer boutiques now found over here, there are also holistic pet shops too. But one thing that did surprise me is the absolute rule that pets are not allowed into any restaurant or any public place that serves food? However, some owners manage to get around this by buying special designer dog-holders that to the untrained eye (of a restaurant owner!) just look like large posh expensive handbags!
Finally, a treat for any animal lover visiting New York City this October, make sure you attend the ‘Blessing of the Animals’ service held at the enormous Cathedral of St John the Divine. Last years procession of animals included a porcupine, two llamas and a camel!