It’s been a week since Gretel and I got back from New York City. On one hand, it feels like yesterday. On the other, it feels like eons ago. The trip was an intense whirlwind for sure. As she frequently does, Gretel blew me away with how well she handled all that the big bad city threw at her. It’s hard to believe that this little girl was on Prozac for her anxiety when we adopted her almost 5 years ago.
Gretel and I got the opportunity to visit New York City because of this blog. Nestlé Purina invited us to their annual Better with Pets Summit where they bring together some of the greatest minds to discuss topics related to how pets make people’s lives better.
I’ll write about what I learned at the conference another time because todays adventure story is not about work. I arranged to pay for an additional night at the hotel so Gretel and I could experience some of the City. And by “some” I mean very little because we were short on time. I also mean “some parks” because that’s the way we roll.
This trip was only the second time I’ve flown with Gretel (or any dog) and my first trip to New York City. I reviewed the lessons I learned about flying with a dog the last time we took a plane ride together since I have a tendency to only remember the good parts about things. Except for a few very short stints a few days before our flight, Gretel hadn’t been in her Sleepypod Air carrier for a year and a half. It would have been best to spend at least a few weeks increasing her time in the carrier to get her used to it again but I didn’t have time. She made me so proud because she hopped right in there and was fine inside for the whole trip. As with the last time we flew together, I was way more anxious than she was.
We relaxed in our room Sunday night but had a full day Monday. I woke up at 5 am (2 am our time!) to do some work. Lucky Gretel got to sleep in. Around 9 am we hopped in a cab for our first New York City traffic experience and headed across Manhattan to meet up with a dog walker. I wanted to go see the 911 Memorial but dogs aren’t allowed there… not even on the monument grounds. A couple of weeks before we left I contacted Good Dog Walking and arranged for them to walk Gretel for an hour while I visited the monument.
The folks at Good Dog Walking thought I would be taking the subway to the monument so they arranged for me to meet them at a subway stop near a local park. Not knowing the City, I thought where I was meeting them was within walking distance to the monument. Wrong. After a 3 minute verbal crash course in New York subway, I was screeching toward the monument on an underground train. I managed to get to the monument, check out the outdoor part, and get back to meet the dog walker just in the nick of time (and I almost got on the totally wrong train!)
I was stressed from the rushed morning in a totally new environment. I am sure Gretel was a little stressed because I left her with a stranger in a bustling City. I definitely LOOKED more frazzled than she did though. I thought both of us needed a calm break so we headed up to Washington Square Park. That was the first time in a day and a half that I was able to just relax and breathe.
After Gretel and I walked around the park and sat on a bench for a bit, Gretel got her first subway experience.
After my single nail biting, confusing-to-navigate subway trip that morning, I felt like an expert. I confidently boarded the subway with Gretel, checked the overhead map for our stop, and got off the subway at the station right down the block from our hotel. So I thought anyway. It turns out that we were on a subway line that traveled in the direction of our hotel but was about 10 blocks northwest of where we needed to be.
We navigated the crowded sidewalks again (Gretel did amazingly well with all of the people) and headed toward the hotel. I spotted Times Square as we were crossing a street so we took a detour since it was on our list of things to see. I heard it was crazy busy there and that I would have to be very careful of Gretel so people didn’t step on her. It wasn’t that bad though – probably because it was late afternoon on a Monday.
I didn’t even try to go into any of the stores with Gretel. I might have been able to (I managed to get into a “no dogs allowed” drugstore with her in a sling bag Sunday night) but I didn’t even try. For one, we were short on time. I also didn’t come to New York with money burning a hole in my pocket, or with a need to buy more junk to fit into a life I am trying to simplify, so I didn’t want to be tempted.
We sat in the middle of Times Square on a bench for about 10 minutes just watching people. There were a couple of those people in costume I had heard about that stand around like statues, and let you take pictures with them, for money. We’d had enough so I scooped up Gretel and started to head back to the hotel. But then I had an idea. We needed something to say we had been there and Gretel with neon signs in the background wasn’t very exciting… so I had an idea and got brave.
Total cost for New York Trip: $900
Cost for picture with the Statue of Liberty costume guy in Times Square: $5
This picture? Absolutely Priceless!
I seriously could have gone home after getting this picture and been satisfied.
We saw more of Manhattan though. You can read about that is Part II.
Disclosure: Purina paid for our air travel and hotel to New York City to attend the Better with Pets Summit. I paid for an extra night at the hotel so Gretel and I could spend a little more time exploring the City. Everything I may say about the Better with Pets summit is true – It was amazing! – and Purina is not responsible for the contents of this article.