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The Dogs of Central Park Get a Book of Their Own

Some people may think it's tough to be a dog in a big city like New York - all that concrete and asphalt isn't exactly...

Julia Szabo  |  Jun 15th 2011


Some people may think it’s tough to be a dog in a big city like New York – all that concrete and asphalt isn’t exactly ideal paw-friendly terrain. ButNew York CityK9s don’t fare too badly. After all,New York dogs and their peopleare lucky: We getto while away time in spectacularCentral Park.

There have been many dark days when adog-walkthrough this gorgeous urbanjungle has set things right for me and my dogs. Strolling or running under a quiet, cathedral-like canopy ofmajestic trees – then turningone’s head slightly to catch a glimpse of the imperialNew Yorkskyline -offers a uniquely captivatingcollision of city and country vistas. After an hour or two in this lovely setting,one feels like a traveler returning from a very satisfying trip.

Every day, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., this 843-acre marvel of landscaping welcomes dogs to run and play off-leash. And in every corner of the park, beautiful dogs of every size and stripe may be seen making the most of that sanctioned playtime.

Now, Universe Publishing brings us a beautiful book of photographs that captures the essence of the Central Park experience from a dog’s eye view: “The Dogs of Central Park.” Leafing through its pages is the next best thing to taking a walk in the actual park.

My best friends and I tend to travel the same familiar path each time we go, so I was delighted to see photographs of dogs enjoying parts of the park we rarely visit: A West Highland White terrier standing on the statue of Hans Christian Andersen … an Airedale reclining on the hallowed tiles that make up the “Imagine” memorial to John Lennon … a Great Pyrenees standing in the shadow of the Balto monument.

The sweetest images in the book – the ones that perfectly capture the spirit of dog-friendly Central Park – are candid shots of dogs just being dogs, pausing while communing with nature: A pretty pit bull standing among daffodils … a Great Dane mix posing near acluster ofred tulips … a pair of perfectly-groomed, snow-white, standard Poodles whose fluffy features echo the hydrangeas in the background … a blue-eyed mutt named Daisy observing the goings-on from her park bench perch …a snow-white Samoyed blending in tothe snowy landscape behind him.

Many of the dogs featured were rescued, so author Fran Reisnerhas promised to donate a percentage of proceeds from sales of her book to animal rescue organizations. Reisner’s enthusiasm for her subject comes through in every photograph.

“I spent thirty-five days in the park,” she recalls in her introduction, “hiking hundreds of miles, sometimes in extreme weather conditions ranging from blustering snowstorms to scorching summer heat to torrential downpours, and not once did I grow tired of observing these dogs.”

And neither will we.