By Lydia DesRoche

The Fluffy Mafia is a group of fluffy dogs who hang out together in Central Park.  

I named them the Fluffy Mafia because they are this group of little fluffy dogs who get to chase squirrels, roll in stink, jump, and do all of those things that dogs love to do but humans often discourage. They are loved for their individual personalities and not some ridiculous ideal. I love their humans because they’re humans let them be who they are.

“The Fluffy Mafia” (left to right): Grace, Biscuit, Gidget, Teddy, and Caramel.
Photo credit: Lydia DesRoche

They came to be as a group of quarantine dogs who met in the park just as quarantine restrictions were starting to lift, and started with two dogs; Biscuit (a Havanese), who was a dog I was training, and Caramel (A Shipoo), who met on “dog hill” during off-leash hours.  Biscuit had so much fun, that she never wanted to leave the park, and though I had worked with Biscuit at her home, that’s when her parents asked if I’d spend mornings in the park with her as well, training her to come when she was called. 

Over the course of a few months, Biscuit and Caramel developed an extra special relationship. They would meet every day. Soon they were joined by Maeve the Mudi, Teddy, the Canadian golden doodle, Fox the Cavapoo, Harper the mixed breed, who looks like a Dr. Seuss character, and Gidget who lives up to her name, and then some. I was fascinated by this little group of dogs. To me they were the Fluffy Mafia; ruling the great lawn and dog hill.

Grace (who was featured in this newspaper last month) had not been interested in going to the park since losing her big brother Red and her friend Jake. She would tuck her tail and pull towards the exit, and so the decision was made not to force the issue of getting her to enjoy the park again, since she seemed perfectly happy running around the city with me during the week and being in the west village with her dad on weekends.

At one point, I wanted too gently reintroduce the park to Grace and she if she would take to the Fluffy Mafia and vice-versa.  I asked my clients if I could bring her along. She’s been going everywhere since she was a baby, galleries, shopping, hair salon, nail salon, she even joined me when I trained animals for the theatre on Broadway when I was working on Of Mice & of Men and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. She’s a great little companion and assistant and I didn’t think she would distract from the lessons with the other dogs. 

At first, Grace stayed close to me. She’s 11 years old and through she has a lot of energy, hanging out with a bunch of two- and three-year-olds might not have been her cup of tea exactly, but I knew all the dogs well enough to know how to introduce them to each other gently. Over time Grace’s confidence increased and now she runs amok with the rest of the gang.  

Grace has helped the mafia up there training game, and she turned out to be the perfect role model for the group. The fluffy mafia quickly followed her up trees, on rocks, on benches, and any other object. And Grace is a seasoned model for the camera — she knows how to pose for the perfect picture, and she knows that hopping onto an object and looking at the camera makes treats magically appear.  Now they all follow her lead.

These little group of sweet dogs have the most amazing friendships with each other. Even the way the dogs joyfully greet each other as everyone is arriving is absolutely beautiful. It’s a really special group of dogs and people, and I absolutely love our mornings together, so much so that it’s very rare that the walks are just an hour. Usually, we get to the park at around 8 AM and we’re still going at 10 or 11.

I can never get enough of them!  They cutest, sweetest and funniest group of dogs you’d ever meet.

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