By Andrew Buemi
Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of bringing a wonderful dog into my life. Among the many joys of being a dog owner—specifically in the West Village—is the inescapable reality of being forced to interact with your neighbors. In a City where it’s not uncommon to go months, even years, without really knowing who lives in your immediate environs, the experience of facing neighbors and the broader immediate community through the lens of a dog can be refreshing and eye-opening.
From quiet morning strolls to more adventurous jaunts spanning the neighborhood and beyond, leisurely walks with the dog have uncovered manifold hues and microcosms of City life that can otherwise go unnoticed: ornate details of the Village’s carriage houses tucked behind ivy-covered walls; hidden gardens with their inhabitants quietly submerged in books; shrieks of joy at the Carmine Street swimming pool during sweltering weekends; the way the Hudson catches the light off the Christopher Street Pier before dusk.
For the lucky dogs of the Village, the area also offers a decent array of dog parks within reasonable walking distance. Here are a few of my favorites.
Leroy Street Dog Park (Hudson River Parkway, Morton Street at Pier 40): Leroy Street is not without its flaws (the hard pavement grinds down dogs’ nails and is slippery when wet), but with its wide rectangular shape, large fountain and drinking areas, multiple benches with plenty of shade, and beautiful views of the Hudson, this is a favorite of mine. It functions as a gathering spot for both owners and their dogs. Dogs of all sizes come here, so it’s not highly recommended for small dog owners who become jittery when larger dogs get physical.
Tribeca Dog Park (Hudson River Parkway, Hubert Street at Pier 26): This dog run is split in two for small and large dogs. Being a medium-sized dog owner myself, I’m not a big fan of the constrained size of the large dog run—it’s studded with jagged boulders placed at awkward angles and a tiny fountain, which makes it difficult for dogs to run in the already tiny space. The small dog run seems much more pleasant for little pups. There’s also very little shade on sunny days and not much seating.
Union Square Dog Run (15th Street and Union Square West): Located in the southwest quadrant of Union Square, this dog run is protected by foliage, giving it an air of intimacy in the sprawling park. It’s somewhat long and narrow with ample seating space, but the ground comprises large, round rocks, which is not ideal for dogs to run around. Still, it’s worth a visit during your next trip to the area.
Washington Square Park Dog Run (Sullivan Street and Washington Square South): The largest of these four dog parks, Washington Square Park offers generous space for dogs of all sizes to let loose (there’s also the Robin Kovary Run for Small Dogs located on the southeast side of the park). The terrain contains gravelly sand, which is easy on dogs’ paws—and popular with those who love to dig. However, it leaves both you and your dog filthy by the time you’re finished.