Pup Culture: A Guide to Pampering Your PoochBig Apple dogs are more spoiled than ever. From cashmere togs to shiatsu massages, our four-legged friends are living it up in New York City.
Photo: MAVRIX PHOTO
Forget about mad dogs and Englishmen—it's New Yorkers who are truly dog crazy. "Dogs are becoming much closer to children than they used to be for New Yorkers," says Dale Van Pamelen, co-owner of the New York Dog Spa and Hotels. "People are requesting to have side-by-side services with their dogs, like massages and haircuts, and in this economy, they seem more willing to cut back on things for themselves than for their pets."
Throughout the U.S., pet owners spent about $40 billion on their furry friends last year, and are predicted to spend approximately 6 percent more in 2008. In NYC, that translates into some very pampered pets: Despite the recession, Manhattan dwellers are still buying $250 canine cashmere coats at Le Chien in Trump Plaza and shelling out for doggy beauty products including new shampoos and conditioners made by cosmetic companies like Kiehl's. "We've seen a lot more customers bring their dogs in to shop with them," says Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl's, which introduced Cuddly-Coat shampoo and conditioner for dogs last winter. "We are handing out twice as many dog treats as we did last year."
Man's best friend is going other places too, including yoga classes, restaurants—and even to work with the city's boldface names. A case in point: On a late July afternoon, on the set of Gossip Girl in the Meatpacking District, Blake Lively and Taylor Momsen had their pups tucked under their arms as they sat in makeup, while Leighton Meester brought her shaggy terrier into her trailer.
So we've compiled a compendium of canine musts: the hottest fashions, parks and gyms to be seen in and the best experts to keep your pooch happy, healthy—and just a little bit spoiled.
Puppy Pros WHO DO THE RICH AND FAMOUS TURN TO WHEN THEY NEED POOCH SUPPORT? THESE SPECIALISTS.
"I am a rock star; I signed over 2,000 pictures last weekend," says Jorge Bendersky, the groomer who brings out the beauty in any beast with his glamorous but easy-to-maintain doggy cuts. He rose to fame on the Discovery network's reality show Groomer Has It, and now tends to the canines of Tatum O'Neal and Alan Cumming at his Chelsea salon. "I like to keep them short around the face and feet with a little skirt," he explains of his signature clip ($120–$225).
New York Dog Spa and Hotel, 32 W. 25th St. (between Broadway and Sixth Ave.).
Robert De Niro, David Bowie, Iman, Lenny Kravitz, Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien and Sean "Diddy" Combs all bring their dogs to Andrea Arden, the trainer du jour. She teaches their pups everything from tricks to a mean game of Frisbee at the two New York Dog Spa and Hotel locations, as well as a center in Soho—and is one of the few city trainers to offer agility classes (where pooches learn to navigate an obstacle course). Six one-hour group sessions cost $350.
For information, call 212-414-9597.
If you want to know what's on your dog's mind, self-proclaimed dog psychic Jacqueline Cronin will clue you in. "I can tell you if your dog likes your boyfriend or if it has a pain in its left shoulder," the canine communicator says. The L.A.-based Jacqueline works by phone (you just supply a photo of your pet) and has confabbed with mutts belonging to Francis Ford Coppola, Ellen Pompeo and Selma Blair. A half-hour session, 15-minute follow-up call and a week of unlimited e-mail support costs $95; $190 gets you 55 minutes on the phone, two follow-up calls and a week of e-mails.
For information, call 323-333-7666.
Edward Alava, manager of high-end pet store Le Chien on the Upper East Side, is one of Manhattan's hottest dog gurus. The dashing Latino grooms and helps dress Trouble, the pooch who was left millions by his mistress, Leona Helmsley. He also advises Diana Ross, Vera Wang, Kelly Klein, Blaine Trump, Lizzie Grubman and Christian Slater on everything from which well-bred puppy to purchase to the bed it should sleep in.
1044 Third Ave. (at 62nd St.); 212-861-8100.
Cindy Bressler is on call 24-7 for clients like Kate Hudson, Mariah Carey, Beth Ostrosky and Lorraine Bracco. The vet is based in Manhattan and Bridgehampton and can arrange in-home hospitalization for ailing pets or private nursing. Consultations cost $185, and Cindy may soon be a boldfacer herself—she is set to star in her own as yet unnamed Foglight-produced reality show.
For information, call 631-255-8556.
Once a private chef for humans, Karmen Almeida now cooks for dogs as well. She whips up chicken stew with carrots, potatoes and brown rice for young and healthy dogs, and pureed filet mignon with sweet potatoes and cinnamon for elderly ones. "So much dog food is filled with chemicals," Karmen says. "What animals really need, particularly if they are sick, is fresh, organic, home-cooked food, just like we do." A nutritional consultation plus three meals a day and delivery costs about $2,000 per week.
For information, call 646-391-4747.
Doggy Dining TREAT YOUR PET TO A NIGHT OUT AT THESE EATERIES.
Photo: Courtesy Fetch
How could a restaurant called Fetch not be dog-friendly? "Dogs are allowed on our outdoor patio," says an employee of this Upper East Side spot. Inside, the walls are covered with framed photos of pups, some owned by patrons and others that are up for adoption. Drop by for a burger, salad or pasta, and keep a lookout for boldfacers such as Susan Sarandon, Christian Slater, Mel Brooks and hockey star Mark Messier.
1649 Third Ave. (between 92nd and 93rd Sts.); 212-289-2700.
drop off service
At this converted Laundromat in the East Village, you'll find 22 beers on tap—and plenty of four-legged punters. "Dogs are very welcome. Almost every happy hour there's at least one dog sitting in here," says bartender Dan Royer. Only two-legged customers get to take advantage of half-price pints (weekdays, 3 p.m.–8 p.m.; weekends, 1 p.m.–8 p.m.) or to enjoy meat pies from Tuck Shop just up the road.
211 Ave. A (at 13th St.); 212-260-2914.
You and your panting pal can enjoy people-watching together at this Meatpacking District boîte—but because the law demands that your dog stay outside the restaurant, you'll be separated by a thin railing. Janet Jackson, Amy Poehler, Nick Lachey, Alexa Ray Joel and Leighton Meester are all customers at the trendy spot, where pastas, wood-fired pizza and whole fish are on the menu.
675 Hudson St. (between W. 13th and 14th Sts.); 212-699-2400.
BBar AND grill
There's a full garden for dogs to romp in at the BBar, which draws celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Naomi Campbell, and serves a Latin-inspired menu.
40 E. Fourth St. (between Bowery and Lafayette St.); 212-475-2220.
At Firehouse, a bar and restaurant on the Upper West Side, dogs are allowed outdoors. The staff also has dog bowls on hand in case your furry friend gets thirsty. Look out for newsman John Stossel, who comes to play backgammon, and local resident Jerry Seinfeld.
522 Columbus Ave. (between 85th and 86th Sts.); 212-595-3139.
Pampered Pooches THE HOTTEST SPOTS TO GET YOUR MUTTS FIT AND FABULOUS.
Photo: Helen Pearson
Is your dog as stressed out as you are? Treat your tense little Toto to a massage at New York Dog Spa and Hotel. The pampering spot, which has been in Chelsea for seven years, just opened a state-of-the-art outpost on the Upper East Side, with central air-conditioning and leather and rubber floors (for less stress on the paws). Shiatsu-based treatments are done on a fluffy doughnut bed with music playing in the background. "Some music makes them crazy, but classical music really calms them down," says co-owner Dale Van Pamelen, of the treatments ($65–$125). And if you both need some time out, you can check your dog in to stay for approximately $60–$65 per night.
32 W. 25th St. (between Broadway and Sixth Ave.); 212-243-1199 and 415 E. 91st St. (between First and York Aves.); 212-410-1755.
Sign up to have pros guide four-legged jogs along the East River, on-site agility classes or private one-on-one training at Running Paws Athletic Club. Packages of 10 river runs cost $150, single runs start at $20 and treadmill sessions start at $10.
1105 First Ave. (between E. 60th and 61st Sts.); 212 317-1222.
The Yoga Studio
You and your pooch
can practice Downward Dog, Sun Salutation and other relaxation poses together in these 45-minute "Doga" classes, which incorporate traditional and modified positions. Run by East Yoga, the sessions ($18) take place the second Wednesday of each month at pet adoption and health-care center Bideawee.
410 E. 38th St. (at First Ave.); 212-532-0536.
The Party Venue
Le Chien hosts on-site private soirées for boldface dogs. Whether it's a birthday or canine wedding, the staff decorates the venue according to your taste, orders a hound-appropriate cake, and provides goody bags filled with toys and treats. (Humans get champagne.) Parties for up to 40 four- and two-legged guests start at $1,500, and almost any special requests can be accommodated (including the piano player who provided background music and cost an extra $4,500 at a chichi doggy celebration in May).
1044 Third Ave. (at 61st St.); 212-861-8100.