In our Urban Playground series, downtown Phoenix parent, Leslie Pico, shares her insights and tips for raising small children in the heart of our big city.

“Dog is man’s best friend.”

That statement is attributed to Frederick II, King of Prussia, referring to one of his Italian greyhounds as his best friend. When I was a child, my family adopted a Pit Bull mix that had followed my mother and I home from a walk one day. I have fond memories of him trailing my father around our property and my father shooing him away with the phrase, “Outta my way ya Bozo dog!” The name “Bozo” stuck and that’s what we called him.


Whether you’re a king or a kid, owning a dog is a priceless experience, so my fiancé and I always planned on a family pet. Our youngest daughter has mild cerebral palsy and we both knew how invaluable the companionship of an animal was to physical and emotional therapy. We had been waiting for our girls to reach an appropriate age to introduce this kind of responsibility and the time was finally right. Somehow we ended up with two!

Bernie and Ruthie are litter mates that David and I adopted from the Arizona Humane Society. We certainly didn’t plan on adopting two eleven-week-old siblings, but I am happy that we did! When you adopt a pet, the cost of spay/neuter, first vaccinations and sometimes microchipping is usually included in the adoption price, which means you’ve scored a major deal. So don’t shop, adopt!


Now, the special complexities of high rise living and raising a dog can seem daunting, but with the right commitment they can be easily overcome. We are in the corner suite on the tenth floor of our building. For us, potty training included an elevator ride down 10 stories. Every day. Multiple times a day. Accidents will and do happen, but remaining consistent is how we’ve responded and the accidents have dwindled down tremendously. Every night at 10 p.m. they go in their kennel where we keep them until 6:30 a.m. and straight out to the grassy pad every morning.

Ella and Elisa are a part of the entire process. Ella was tasked with clean up of accidents and keeping their water bowls filled, while Elisa was tasked with putting their toys away after play. When it’s time to take them out every morning and night, Ella takes on one pup and Elisa the other. Leash training came naturally to the puppies and they walk side by side with the girls around the building for their afternoon exercise.


With all of the restaurant patios and parks in our city, there are plenty of pup-friendly places downtown where you can take your dog. Green spaces like Civic Space Park and Hance Dog Park are just a couple of spots where kids and dogs can get out and play together.

And now that fall is upon us and temps are falling to the double digits, the puppies have gone with us everywhere. As a freelancer, as long as I have wifi, I can work. The Phoenix Public Market Café has become one of my go to destinations and the puppies are welcome!

Every Thursday evening, the Phoenix Public Market holds their Downtown Sundown event, where it transforms into a spectacular outdoor hub of dinner, drinks, entertainment and shopping with over 25 unique local vendors. Events like this are plentiful in downtown and prove that downtown pets can have just as much of a social life as their owners.

Dogs can be happy in a high rise when you exercise them appropriately and give them the attention they crave. Our daughters keep them throughly exhausted and the puppies have welcomed the endless amount of cuddles. So far, the only thing we have had to adjust for is the puparazzi! Walking about downtown has resulted in the occasional impromptu photo op by the random passerby. Bernie and Ruthie always welcome the attention!

Photos by Leslie Pico