The Paws-Down Favorite Dog Toy in NYC’s Central Park

In New York City's Central Park, dogs are permitted to romp off-leash every day between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. The dogs of Central Park...


In New York City’s Central Park, dogs are permitted to romp off-leash every day between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. The dogs of Central Park have been celebrated in a book aptly titled The Dogs of Central Park. But as comprehensive as this beautiful tome is, it makes no mention of a certain status symbol that’s spotted in most well-heeled Central Barkers’ mouths.

It’s high time to give credit where it’s due: The paws-down favorite dog toy in New York City’s Central Park, the mutt-have pooch playthingis the squeaky rubber “walking ball toy,” a.k.a. the ball with feet, a.k.a. the Cuz.

Imade this discoverywhen I started taking Sheba and Tiki myoldest, mellowest dogs to Central Park for off-leash playtime and socializing. Tiki never showed an interest in squeaky toys; his thing was rolling on his back in the fresh white snow or nibbling the glorious green grass. He was happy to chew the cud while his K9 peers chewed the Cuz.

Sheba, on the other hand, regularly made a sport oftrying to stealand desqueakother dogs’ Cuz toys. Finally, I got a clue and bought her a cache of Cuzzes to call her own. At home, however, I carefully hid the collection, because once she got her paws on one, she’d immediately perform a radical squeakectomy and a desqueaked Cuz is not exactly a hot item.

The Cuz comes in many variations. There’s “Bad Cuz,” who sports devil’s horns, and his goody-two-shoes cousin, the hornless “Good Cuz.” There’s also the futuristic-looking “Other Cuz” (with or without horns), Dexter the Frog, and Darwin the Elephant. Sheba has ’em all.

Oftentimes, more than one dog will lay claim toone Cuz. That’s when humans step in to settle matters.

How, you ask? Just as smallchildren’s clothing sports identifyingname tags, the Central Park dogs’ Cuz toys are distinguishable by the name indelibly inked in Sharpie pen on the bottom of the feet. That’s how everybody can leave the park with the same Cuz toy they came with.

Stumped for a holiday gift?For authentic New York Dogster flavor, why not package The Dogs of Central Park, the book,with a Cuz?

What’s the mutt-haveplaything at your localdog park? Pleasetell allin the comments!

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