Dog walking in New York City. Stanton Deplane’s (internal link) spritely writing brings it alive. This gentle humorist won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting and worked for the San Francisco Chronicle for over fifty years. I think his writing on animals were his best work. The late 1950’s was a time when in much of America, dogs roamed without a leash.
STAN DELAPLANE’S Postcard
February 26, 1959
These are the in-between days in New York. Not quite the end of winter, not quite the beginning of spring.
“I don’t really know what to do with Stonehenge,” said the lady in front of my hotel. “He simply can’t stand Florida.”
Stonehenge, it turned out, is a bored-looking poodle. Like other dogs in the Elegant Eighties East, he wears a simple silver collar and a short Jacket. He looks at the passing traffic through half-closed eyes. A good deal like a banker surveying the usual menu at the University club.
His Jacket is plaid. Authentic Stuart Hunting tartan. He is a dog with money.
We are staying at the posh Stanhope Hotel. Fifth avenue at 81st street. The doorman knew me by name within half an hour after I registered.
He wears a plum-colored topcoat with a flash of red waistcoat beneath. This is not a gaudy neighborhood. But between the plaid jacketed dogs and the red-breasted doormen, we have our moments of color.
This is an aristocratic neighborhood. Across from the gray, bare, wintered trees of Central Park. Across from the imposing Metropolitan Museum of Art. If we wish to refresh our culture, we can walk across the street and look at the high class mummies in the Egyptian section.
“Stonehenge,” said the lady, “really prefers New York.” Stonehenge sat quietly at the end of his morocco leash. He nodded briefly to a passing pair of dachshunds and snubbed a young cocker.
Down at 493 First avenue, we have a guest house for dogs who prefer New York. Who cannot stand Florida.
It is called the Courtyard. It is run by Mr. Henry J. Lindner Jr. of New Orleans — possibly the first man to come to New York and realize a smart dog’s feelings in such matters.
“City dogs,” said Mr. Lindner, “prefer to walk on a leash. They prefer to have someone walk with them. Some like to walk on grass, whereas others would rather walk on a terrace.
“We try to determine their desires and provide what they wish.”
For rich animals like Stonehenge, Lindner provides a city home while the rest of the family goes to Miami.
Reservations are required, naturally. (Just as they are at my hotel. We must keep up the barriers.)
A dog lodging with Lindner— “we don’t like to call it a boarding house”—are assured of quality company.
Elizabeth Arden’s German Shepherd, King, is a regular visitor.
So is Dorothy Parker’s miniature poodle, Cliche. The register has names of most of the elite of New York City dogs. And a dog can simply drop in—with proper credentials. Just drop in, have a steam bath and freshen up for the evening. Or simply lunch on a low-calorie lean beef dish, so popular that Lindner is thinking of packing it for the retail market.
The upper East Side dog, being an apartment hotel animal, is generally small. Just big enough to fit under the TV set.
They are walked in the brisk mornings by uniformed hotel help. The more citified dogs walk the sidewalks along the apartment houses. A few venturesome beasts heel-and-toe it across the street in Central Park.
They all wear Jackets in this chill weather. But they are rather plain in the way of collars.
“I never let Stonehenge wear his ruby collar until after six in the evening,” said the lady. “Only a thin silver chain during the day.”
Stonehenge lifted one eyelid and looked at me. When he saw I had neither a plum-colored topcoat nor red waistcoat, he dropped it again and his lip came up in a genteel sneer.