Post tagged with


A Smooth Start for Ruff Club

IMG_8689Laura Gurfein A four-legged friend gets his first look at Ruff Club.

“Come on in the back, where the magic happens!”

Alexia Simon Frost, a co-owner of Ruff Club, led a small group of people and their dogs into the large playroom with walls dotted with decals that look like supersized nail polish art, where more pets and humans were already congregating. For the first time on Saturday, Alexia and her husband, co-owner Danny Frost, along with six staff members donning matching dark gray zip-up hoodies with the company’s orange crossbones logo, welcomed the public into their East Village “dog-friendly social club” for an open house to recruit membership.

Though the doggy daycare and boarding center with its lounge for owners to work or socialize while enjoying complimentary coffee and WiFi doesn’t officially open until January 2, the newlywed couple greeted neighborhood pet enthusiasts this weekend for a tour of their 3,300 square-foot, two level space and invited them to fill out applications. The first-time business owners, both 29, were keen to present themselves to the neighborhood as an innovative enterprise that fills a void in the East Village. So intent, in fact, that Danny stood outside for a time to entice anyone walking a dog to step inside.

It’s easy to tell why they see an opportunity here. A stroll through the East Village is teeming with four-legged friends, and the Frosts figured it was only natural that dogs and humans alike were looking for a place to congregate. In fact, the New York City Economic Development Corporation estimated in September that there are approximately 600,000 dogs in New York City, and up to 55,000 dogs in the area that Ruff Club hopes to serve. Few stores and cafes in the neighborhood allow pets (The Bean, a small franchise with two neighborhood outposts, is an exception). As Danny puts it, the East Village community is “very eager for, essentially, urban living rooms, like a place to hang out, particularly with your dog.”

IMG_8690Laura Gurfein

Alexia and Danny inherited their attitudes towards dogs from their parents. The Simon family got a Keeshond, a large gray German spitz with a curlicue tail that looks like an oversized version of its Pomeranian cousin, when Alexia was eight years old. They named him Astro. “My dad had one when he was growing up. That’s how we ended up with one,” she explained of her first dog at her childhood home in Roseland, New Jersey. Danny’s parents, meanwhile, resorted to lying to keep furry nuisances out of their household.

“What was the story she told you?”

“I think my mom told us there was an allergy-type problem,” he replied. “It was just never even really a remote possibility, and probably as a kid, I just, you know…“

“You pick your battles,” Alexia chimed in.

“My mom, my parents, they hate animals. And my sister and I, therefore, always wanted pets,” Danny said of his childhood, split between Queen’s Bayside and Long Island’s Plainview. “Um, we ended up with fish.” Read more…

Making It | Evelyn McCue of Doggie Dearest

doggie dearestMelvin Felix Evelyn McCue.

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Doggie Dearest.

Back in college Evelyn McCue’s career plan was to be a veterinarian. When she became pregnant with her son, her career took a different turn. “Instead of becoming a veterinarian, I made one myself,” Ms. McCue joked about about her son’s career as a neurological veterinarian. But after years teaching English as a second language and bartending, she revisited her love of animals and opened Doggie Dearest at 543 East Fifth Street. Ms. McCue said her boutique dog grooming business was the first of its kind in the neighborhood, and for nearly 19 years she’s groomed roughly eight dogs a day, three days a week. The Local spoke with Ms. McCue about the popularity of the pet industry, the weirdest creature she’s ever brushed, and why poodle owners can be so strange.


How did you end up in the dog grooming business?


I was on the phone, sitting on hold and flipping through the Yellow Pages when I saw an ad for a grooming school. I called them and somehow it turned out perfectly. At first it would just going to be a cool hobby. But lo and behold, it turned out I am really good at it! Read more…

Doggie Diary | Jubilee’s Day in the Park

Taking a cue from The Local Fort Greene’s Dog of the Day, we’re launching a new column featuring canine confessions from the dog run and beyond. Today: Jubilee and friends.

dog 5 Jubilee, photographed by her owner Alberto Reyes.

Hi, I’m Jubilee. Sometimes my human friends call me “Little Boss” because I like being in charge. I’m 10 pounds, 11 months, and a terrier mix. Being a mix – a little bit of Yorkie and a little bit of Schnauzer – makes me feel like a real New Yorker. Every morning my mom and I walk to the dog run at Tompkins Square Park where I meet up with my friends.

The park has two runs. The small dog area is the best because of the raised wood platform and a large shady tree. While we dogs play, the humans also get to know each other – so well sometimes that they plan trips together and take us along! My best girlfriend Rosie, a hybrid Peagle (half Beagle and half Pekingese) and her two-legged companion Lexa recently took a trip with the group to Larchmont dog beach, meaning we got to go swimming! Read more…

Expansion Explainer: Why Dogs Are Always at N.Y.U. 2031 Protests


As Village residents await Borough President Scott Stringer’s recommendation early next month regarding N.Y.U.’s expansion plans, The Local is taking a look at the impacts of the project. Today, we’re examining the concerns surrounding the replacement of a dog run under the proposed development. Yesterday, we looked at the impact the proposal would have on three playgrounds in Greenwich Village. Check back for our coverage of concerns surrounding loss of light and the LaGuardia Community Garden.


So what does the future hold for the dog run at the corner of Houston and Mercer Streets should N.Y.U.’s expansion be approved?

11-Dog Run-PN.Y.U. The proposed dog run.

The dogs and their roughly 300 owners at the Mercer-Houston Dog Run will have to be relocated to make way for the Zipper building, which will be 26 stories at its highest point. The building would extend almost the entire length of the south block along Mercer Street between Houston and Bleecker Streets. In addition to housing, academic, retail space and a hotel, the new structure would also hold the replacement for the Morton Williams Supermarket at the northwest corner of the south block. The university says the replacement grocery store would be fully operational before Morton Williams is demolished in 2018. Read more…

Starbucks v. The Bean: Who’s Doing Better Business?

Bean v. StarbucksKathryn Doyle Eric Borg and his dog Sam enjoyed coffee in front of The Bean last week.

Now that Starbucks and The Bean are squaring off on either end of their block on East Third Street, you might be wondering: which is doing swifter business? Are The Bean’s loyal customers walking that extra block to avoid the corporate coffeehouse? Or has the demure signage of the “neighborhood Starbucks” managed to win folks over?

To answer those questions, The Local stationed a reporter outside of the Starbucks on First Avenue, and another outside of The Bean on Second Avenue. They counted customers from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. last Wednesday, and here’s what they found.

29 people walked into Starbucks.

43 people – and over a dozen dogs – walked into The Bean.

Siobhan Quinn said she chose The Bean partly because it accommodates Seamus, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel. “I like the owner, and it’s more neighborhoody,” she added. “There’s more of a community feel.”
Read more…

At Tompkins Square Park, A Tale of Two Dog Runs

Tompkins dog runHeather Hollland These little dogs may be romping, but one local found that they, and their owners, are generally a sensitive bunch.

Tompkins Square Park has two dog runs: one for large dogs and another for small and timid ones. And it’s not just the dogs that are different – their owners seem to make up two distinct communities.

I recently took my friend’s Boston terrier, Chuck, to the small dog run (Chuck is not a big dog. I’ve seen bigger cats). It’s a serene place where most of the owners sit on a deck under a beautiful old American Elm. A man wearing white jeans and pink sunglasses spoke into a pink cell phone with a Hello Kitty bauble hanging from it. A woman sang a song about “all the little animals” (it’s refrain was about veganism) and handed out fliers depicting animal abuse at slaughterhouses.

Gate at Tompkins Square Park Dog RunMichael Clemens The gate that separates the big dogs from the toys.

The dogs in this area are precious. The Yorkies, Maltese and Chihuahuas don’t pick up toys as much as gently lick them. Some have coats more brilliantly white than the bleached teeth of their owners. Occasionally they play or wrestle with each other in the sand, but it’s a pretty civil affair.

Chuck didn’t exactly fit in this environment. He tore into the park like a kamikaze pilot, blazed around it twice, and tackled a Yorkie. As he held the dog’s paw in his mouth and forced it into submission the vegan stopped singing, Hello Kitty looked at Chuck in disgust and the Yorkie’s owner began yelling at me.
Read more…

Street Scenes | Near Dog Run, a ‘Litter’ Pun

Throw your dog awaySuzanne Rozdeba

The Day | Williamsburg Is East Village East

Occupy Wall StreetSuzanne Rozdeba L.E.S. Jewels and John Penley at Occupy Wall Street.

Runnin’ Scared interviews the bloggers behind EV Grieve and Save The Lower East Side to get their thoughts on why, as Save The Lower East Side pointed out yesterday, Grieve’s commenters are so dismissive of John Penley’s plans to occupy Tompkins Square Park this weekend.  Says Grieve, “Some of the newer residents seem to be more interested in finding the perfect drunk brunch, tweeting about cupcakes and going out and watching, say, the Oklahoma-Texas game in sweatshirts and jerseys. Social movements are for the history books.”

Brooklyn Based notices, as have we, that Williamsburg is becoming “East Village East,” with outposts of Mama’s and Vanessa’s Dumpling House due to open later this month, and an offshoot of Cafe Mogador planned as well. “The recession really hit the East Village pretty hard and we saw our clientele dropping,” explains Jeremiah Clancy, the owner of Mama’s. “It pushed the last notion of young people out because the rents were so high.”

Speaking of Mama’s, the southern food trend continues: EV Grieve notices a Facebook update indicating that Double Wide, a “bar and southern kitchen” will open this weekend at 505 East 12th Street. Their sloppy Joes “bear only the finest ingredients.” Read more…

City’s First Dog Run May Lose Last Adjacent Pet Store

IMG_3757Lauren Carol Smith For Sale signs in the window of Zee’s Pet Store on Avenue B, between 9th and 10th.

The space housing Zee’s Pet Store, the pet supply shop closest to Tompkins Square Park, is up for grabs. The owner, Zee, who declined to give a last name, said his rent had been raised, and a sign in the window solicited a hair or nail salon for the storefront on Avenue B between Ninth and Tenth Street.

At the Tompkins Square Dog Run, reactions varied. Read more…

No Quarter at the Guggenheim Lab, Pt. 1: No Dogs Allowed?

finn, no dogs at Guggenheim LabEmily Armstrong

Yesterday, two downtown residents were surprised when they were turned away at the BMW Guggenheim Lab, the self-described “part urban think tank, part community center and public gathering space.” Here’s the first story, involving a dog named Finn McCool.

I went to the Guggenheim Lab this afternoon, hoping to get a coffee and sit for a while on their picnic benches. I was barred from entry because, here’s a shocker: “Sorry, no dogs allowed.”

The explanation was that there is a cafe on the premises, hence no dogs.

“What about the recently closed and sadly missed Little Veselka down the block in First Park?”, I asked. “Dogs were welcomed there. They even sold a dog biscuit for fifty cents and left out bowls of water for thirsty pets. And, that was also on parks department, New York City property.

The Lab was far from crowded and there was plenty of room for me and Finn McCool (that’s his name).

The guy at the door said they would look into it.

A spokesperson for the Lab told The Local that “dogs are allowed in the park area but not the structure.” Is that the policy which is actually being implemented? What do you think? Should dogs be allowed into the think tank?

Update | 4:30 p.m. A spokesperson for the BMW Guggenheim Lab says that as of yesterday afternoon, “dogs are allowed to come into the park area but not the structure.”

Read No Quarter at the Guggenheim Lab, Pt. 2: Rebuffed at Roberta’s

Doggie Dental

They don’t sit in the dentist’s chair, but they do lie on the table.

The Local paid a recent visit to St. Marks Veterinary Hospital to watch animals undergo dental work, from x-rays and blood-work to cleanings and extractions.

Though some dental tools are similar to a human’s, animals are put under anesthesia to be treated, and are sometimes covered in blankets to prevent hypothermia as their heart rates change.

It’s a complex process, but an important step in preventing serious damage to the kidneys or heart. If a pet has bad breath, trouble eating, or excessive drooling, it may be time to book a dental.

Some Tips To Prevent Dog Attacks

Drayton MichaelCarol Vinzant Drayton Michael, a dog trainer, discourages pet owners from carrying weapons to fend off dog attacks. He spoke to pet owners Sunday at the Tompkins Square Dog Run.

Leave the knife, take a bottle of water.

That’s the advice Drayton Michael, a dog trainer known as the “pit bull guru,” is offering to the citizens of the East Village who are concerned about a series of attacks at the Tompkins Square Dog Run.

After a series of serious dog fights, to which some dog owners reportedly responded by carrying knives to the park to protect their dogs, the community was worried — though not all were sure these fights were anything new in a neighborhood that only a decade or so ago had more pit bulls than the toy breeds that now frolic in the specially segregated small dog run.

“Don’t worry,” said the dog run manager and dog trainer, Garrett Rosso, introducing Mr. Michael to the crowd of about 80 who gathered at an information session at the park on Sunday. “He knows that we’re not the type of dog run where people sit around on the edges and are afraid of certain breeds.”
Read more…

Beyond the Dog Run | Waiting

Today, The Local East Village inaugurates a recurring feature of photo essays on neighborhood pets called “Beyond the Dog Run.”

no dogs allowed - 15

One day, Michael Sean Edwards, an East Village photographer, decided to pay close attention to the dogs that were waiting for their owners outside a neighborhood coffee house. This is what he saw.
Read more…