By A. Campbell
Good morning, pups. Today is a special edition of our weekly Pupper West Side column in which I want to pay tribute to its late creative and editorial director and my long-time companion, Mr. Pupper West Side. Mr. Pupper West Side — known to close friends and family as Manny — passed away on his own last week in his Upper West Side apartment with his loved ones by his side to comfort him.
Manny was a 15.5-year-old Jack Russell Terrier who I was lucky to be with all his life. And for such a little dog, Manny led a big life. A small white dog with an outsized personality, Manny was many things: a scamp, a lovebug, a robust athlete, an evil genius, a protector and defender, a gentleman, a happy little critter, and a neighborhood fixture. (I am proud to share that Manny was profiled in the West Side Rag not once but twice!)
Maintaining the characteristic Jack Russell Terrier energy and agility into his early teenage years, Manny’s favorite thing was playing fetch. And the farther the throw, the better. He loved nothing more than sprinting after a tennis ball and proudly racing back with it. We could often be found on the sloping grass lawn at Central Park West and 86th Street, playing a relay race of fetch with the help of two different tennis balls until Manny was worn out and decided it was time to trot home, panting hard, still holding onto the ball while his tongue hung out the side of his mouth.
Never one to be left out, Manny embraced travel. Planes, trains, cars, or the subway – he loved it all. Whether he was leading the way on a five-hour hike in Vail, Colorado; scrambling up boulders in Acadia National Park; or peeking over the rocks at a waterfall in New Hampshire, Manny was always game for a new adventure. Over his lifetime, Manny visited Texas, Colorado, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Illinois, New Mexico, Utah, and California.
A social butterfly, Manny loved meeting children and adults – anyone who was ready to pet his soft head. When we weren’t grabbing coffee at Da Capo; picking up a delicious pastry at Epices, or browsing the bookshelves at The Strand, we were taking long walks with friends through Riverside Park and Central Park.
As he grew old and frail, Manny struggled to keep up with the busy pace of foot traffic in the city, so I purchased a stroller for him. Yes, a doggy stroller. And while I received my fair share of raised eyebrows and scoffs from passersby, the clear joy and comfort that the stroller provided him was enough to convince me that it was more important to focus on his happiness and quality of life rather than any stranger’s opinion. (I remained inspired by Ann Patchett’s essays about her own devotion to and stroller purchase for her late dog, Rose.) With the help of that stroller — perhaps the best $85 I ever spent — I’m proud to say Manny continued to live Upper West Side life to the fullest until the end.
New York City is a special place where so many people understand inherently that dogs are family. Pupper West Side was inspired by my relationship with Manny and by the many wonderful neighbors and dog owners we have met during our time together. I’m deeply grateful to this community for embracing the two of us and I look forward to continuing to document the colorful lives of other Pupper West Siders like him.
If you think your pup deserves a shot at neighborhood fame, we encourage you to reach out to Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for a future profile on West Side Rag and follow your fellow Pupper West Sider’s adventures on Instagram at @pupper_west_side_uws
If readers are interested in becoming pet owners, we encourage you to consider adopting or volunteering to be a foster parent with one of the many shelters and nonprofits based in and around New York City. These include but aren’t limited to Muddy Paws Rescue; Animal Lighthouse Rescue; Animal Care Centers of NYC; NYC ASPCA; Humane Society of New York; Bideawee; Social Tees; Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue and Animal Haven.