By Sarah Bennett

Washington Square Park: Don't take man's best friend to the Village's worst run. 

Obviously, the number one factor in choosing a dog run how far it is from your home/how long the distance for your dog to physically drag you there. For the sake of reference, however, we’re going to attempt to compile info on as many NYC dog runs as humanly possible, because you never know when you’re going to move, a jerk is going to move onto your regular run turf, or your dog may wish to move his bowels somewhere else.

Washington Square Park (entrance at the bottom of the park, near Thompson St)

Full disclosure: I have always hated Washington Square Park. Sure, it was where I got my first and only offer to buy crack (in Manhattan), but that doesn’t make up for the fact that it has turned into NYU’s main campus quad. (note to NYU: why couldn’t this have happened while I was actually matriculating??)

To explain my bias further, I grew up in an Ivy League college town and so I have always hated the entitled, oblivious nature of college kids. I was very wary of being one, and get unusually antsy when forced to be around them now. So between my prejudice, and the fact that the dog run is currently in transition due to construction, feel free to take this with a grain of (dirty, unpleasant) salt.

So they fixed-up the li'l dog run and gave it...a mud fountain? An ins-pee-ration source? WTF?

Basic Stats: The park has two separate areas for small dogs and big dogs, but only the little dog run is finished (i.e., has real fences). Since the construction in the park has moved from the North side to the South side, the big dog run has been become one big, half-finished, dusty blob along Washington Square South (or maybe the run was always a big dusty blob and I’m just giving it the benefit of the doubt). There are no bags in either run, just scoopers, and while there’s a shed, I didn’t see any water source. Seating places abound, and so do dogs.

Placement in the Park: In the busiest part of the park, close to the NYU library and the fountain. It’s also truly in the heart of NYU’s campus.

Vibe Inside: Barely controlled chaos in the big dog holding pen. On a weekday evening, it was crowded with lots of tense moments between dogs—play that was aggressive enough to be borderline scary—so I can only imagine what a nice weekend is like. Because it’s more sand/dirty that gravel, that meant huge clouds of dirt springing up all the time, so my dog and I probably got equally filthy. Even the new run has a dirt floor.

So imagine you're here on a crowded day and your dog dumps it by that far bench-- here's the poop's final destination. It's like Frogger, but with dogs, and fecal.

Cons: Aside from the chaos and dirt, there’s the choice of providing pooper scoopers instead of poop bags, and keeping the trash cans in one area on the far side of the park. That means that, if your dog does his/her business in the main play area, you have to locate a scooper and then, like a waiter with a full tray of dirty dishes (that once served dog shit), hustle through the crowds without spilling anything or bumping into anyone until you get to the where the trash cans are. I understand the desire to cut down on plastic bag use, but if you’re doing to switch to a scoop-only system, you need to make dumping the scoopage less of a pain. The park itself is also always crowded, and if it’s not overflowing with college kids, it’s surly college-aged crust punks who got lost on the way to first, college, and second, Tompkins Square, performers who will trip over your dog while juggling, and older residents who are even more bitter and hateful than you are and long for the days when you could just stroll through the park quietly and be offered drugs. Heavy rain unleashes a sad torrent of dirty water that renders the park unuseable.

Even this pup feels the vibe is less "dog run," more "prison yard."

Pros: The park’s certainly centrally located, and there’s never a need to worry that your dog will be alone with no one to play with. There are also often food trucks all around the park, and most of the Duane Reades and CVS’s nearby are pretty laissez-faire about bringing your dog inside.

Food?: Trucks and carts, mostly, although it’s also pretty close to Num Pang and the falafel place next door, on 12th near University, and they both have take-out windows. Seriously though, after twenty minutes in that dirtbath, I lost my appetite.

Next time: Leroy Street (at the West Side Highway)!