When it’s winter in New York, it often feels colder than the actual temperature, because our humans can’t just rush to their cars and turn on the heater. They actually have to walk for blocks with the frigid wind coming in off the river and the canyons of tall buildings creating wind tunnels that and make their eyes water.
It was pretty cold last week, so our usual long walks were curtailed, and I didn’t get to explore the city as much as I usually do. Instead, I retreated to my Cozy Cave, emerging occasionally for some indoor exercise with my toys or with the tennis ball game (if you haven’t seen that post and you need a new indoor game for rainy days, you may find it pertinent).
But last Thursday, we had a respite from the dreary weather. It was still chilly, but at least the sun was bright and skies were clear. The Lady and I took the opportunity to take some outdoor exercise and paid a visit to the Chelsea Waterside Dog Run.
First-timers may find this site a bit difficult to locate, as it is part of a triangle-shaped park sandwiched between 11th Avenue and the West Side Highway. Once we found the entrance, however, we discovered a clean (if not enormous) play space.
A small confession: I rarely get any real exercise at dog runs. In my younger days, I sometimes indulged in chase sessions with select partners. However, my dog run routine these days looks like this:
1) Enter run, sniff around, pee on any and all important spots
2) Sniff other canines and suss them out
3) Find a suitable human who is willing to admire me and scratch behind my ears
4) Sit next to said human on bench and observe other dogs playing
5) Eventually let the Lady know that I have gathered enough observations for the day and am ready to continue our ramble through the city
For some reason, the Lady finds this routine exasperating and wonders aloud why I can’t be “a normal dog who runs around and plays with other dogs.” To which I can only respond, “Why on earth be normal when one can be extraordinary?”*
But this day—perhaps because I’d been cooped up inside for so long, or perhaps because this dog run is unusually fun—I actually ran about a bit with the other dogs. The Chelsea Waterside Run, unlike most other Manhattan dog parks, which are flat, features a central area of mounds of different heights studded with boulders. We dogs can run up and down the slopes and get many different vantage points on the park and the surrounding traffic. That makes it a lot more interesting than most other runs, because I like to climb up to high places and look at things from different angles.
I’ve been informed that some humans don’t like this feature because they feel that some dogs get territorial about the mounds, which can lead to fights. I did not observe any such behavior when I was there, but I suppose that any time there is a patch of ground considered more desirable than another patch, there is the potential for a dog to get territorial about it and to fight over it.
I don’t think we dogs are alone in this tendency.
But during my visit, all my fellow dogs were quite amiable, and I had a grand time romping up and down the slopes with them.
Humans with small, fragile dogs or with large, prey-driven dogs should note that unlike some runs, this one is mixed-size and does not have a separate area for small dogs.
The small park here also has an artificial turf field for humans to play on, a playground, and a basketball court. Across the street, you’ll find more of Hudson River Park and Chelsea Piers, where humans can practice their golf swing, go bowling, ice skate, and more (the Lady says I should tell you they also have bathrooms there). If your tastes incline more towards art than fitness, you can head in the other direction into the Chelsea gallery district and go gallery hopping (more on that in a future dispatch).
Remember to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!
*The Lady insists that my usage of “extraordinary” deviates from the commonly accepted definition and that the word I am searching for is “weird.”
Chelsea Waterside Dog Run is located at West 23rd Street & 11th Avenue.