nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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Sunday best

In our local park today there was a costume contest for the local dogs in celebration of Halloween. The Halloween Howl was packed with dogs of all shapes and sizes dressed up and prancing around in an attempt to win a prize. Crazy stuff, but there was a great atmosphere and you couldn’t help but smile and go ‘aahh’ a lot. Check out some of the entrants:

This one is carrying a replica of the Roosevelt Island Tram. Came second in its class.

This one is carrying a replica of the Roosevelt Island Tram. Came second in its class.











A super hero and winner of its class.

A super hero and winner of its class.










My favourite. Check out the daschund on the right: yes, he's wearing a leather cap!

My favourite. Check out the daschund on the right: yes, he’s wearing a leather cap!

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Hello Tiddles

Since R brought back six new Peppa DVDs from England in July, I have learnt all about the new characters which have appeared on the show since E stopped watching it a few years ago.  There’s a now a fox called Freddie.  I am highly amused by Brian Blessed, his voice booming as Grampy Rabbit who competes with Grandad Pig for who is best at everything.

But my favourite new character is Dr Hamster. I thought it was Caroline Aherne doing the voice, but it’s not, it’s Morwenna Banks, who mostly does Mummy Pig’s voice. Dr Hamster has a tortoise bizarrely called Tiddles. It clearly thinks it’s a cat because it’s always getting stuck in trees. “I don’t know why he does that, he’s a tortoise,” complains Dr Hamster.

I wanted to share my new found Peppa Pig knowledge with a man in Central Park today. I was out for a morning run, huffing and puffing up a big hill in the north part of the park in Harlem and nearly fell over when I saw an elderly man walking a rather fat ginger cat in the opposite direction. He had a lovely red lead, the cat, not the man. He thinks his cat is a dog. Maybe it’s called Rover?

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There’s a macaw up that tree!

Yes, a green macaw, just hanging out in a tree in our local park. I ignore the protestations of E and her friend, when I humour them that ‘yes, dear, now off you go’, in a bid to continue an conversation without small children. Later, intrigued, we wander across the grassy part of the park and yes, there it is. A macaw, Chilling out on a deck chair next to a 60 something lady. ‘You bring him here everyday, do you?’, I ask, in an attempt to hide my bemusement at seeing someone in the park with a macaw. ‘Only on the weekends’ she replies. The bird goes nuts when a toddler gets too close and the owners say ‘he bites, get him away!’ Apparently he likes small girls, so he is happy when E is cooing over him and he’s saying ‘hello’ and other greetings. I ask them how they get him to the park, as I can see no cage or similar device. He sits on her shoulder and she walks to the park wih him. They talk like it’s the most normal thing in the world. NO IT’S NOT! Well, maybe it is in NYC but not in NW3, that’s for sure.

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First there was nannycam

And now there is doggycam. For the New Yorker who loves their dog but has to work but doesn’t want to use doggy daycare, there is the dog walker. How do you know they actually walked your dog?  A company called Swifto was mentioned in today’s New York Times. They have developed a GPS device that you can access via an app on your smart phone. They say: “View a live map of your dog’s walk. See the exact route, miles, and duration of the walk with alerts when the walk starts and ends.”

The New York Times article starts off with a graphic description about how it works:

“At 7:03 p.m. on May 25, my dog went to the bathroom in front of the Chinese massage place up the block from my house in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

I was not there, but I know this is true because a “poop alert” popped up on my laptop, 22 miles away at a friend’s house. A poop alert is a little white-on-brown icon of a squatting dog with, yes, a small pile beneath its tail, superimposed on a map of the walk fed by GPS data from the walker’s phone and updated every few seconds.

In addition, I received a text message on my phone. “Barnaby has just pooped.”


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I have made up a new word to honour the dogs of New York. The Dogiverse. After six months of living here I have concluded that there may be as many dogs as New Yorkers. Every day we walk by Groomingdales, a small doggie grooming parlour full of froo froo white fluffy things that look longingly out of the window to see their owners return. It’s cute and the name is great. Then there’s Biscuits and Bath, the doggie daycare centre. You can’t get your kid into a nursery here, it’s cut throat the day after Labour Day to get your kid in (more about that in a later post) but you can get your dog into daycare. There’s a  Biscuits and Bath on First Avenue, where people hang over the railings on the pavement looking at the dozens of dogs roaming around, mostly looking bored in their glass fronted room. It does look a bit sad and even a bit cruel, but maybe they are happy with their doggie buddies. Little dogs and medium dogs are separated from the big beasts. I bet it really smells.

And my favourite? Star Paws on the Upper West Side. Catering for behaviour management for your trickier pet.

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Only in New York. The home of neuroses.

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A Hungarian what?

Puli. It’s a dog. A Hungarian Puli. It’s a dog that looks like it belongs to Bob Marley such are its dreadlocks so long and flowing. We have spotted them a few times near our apartment and I spoke to an owner once who said that they were all related and great pets. I saw what must have been the granddad of Hungarian Pulis today as he was chilling out on a bench in Central Park (bet he didn’t get sunburn). As he and his owner snoozed on the bench, tourists walked by and smiled, pointed and took photos. He really should have charged, would have made a fortune.