Years ago, when I lived downtown in the West Village, there seemed to be a sudden infusion of dogs with arcane pedigrees.
I sat at my computer during the day, looking out on Perry Street, watching people walk. Some people walked their dogs. After a while, I began to focus on the specifics of the dogs.
In these pages not very long ago, I told you I don’t like bulldogs. Therefore, I was quite comfortable sitting at a second floor window looking down at the sidewalk where every now and then a white bulldog pulled his master along, forging onward with brutal muscle power and intense purpose.
In appearance, the dog’s master, a good-looking black-bearded guy, exuding warmth toward everyone he met and stopped to talk to, seemed to be the antithesis of his dog.
Very different from the men I currently see being accompanied by bulldogs. Men with scraggly beards worn as labels announcing their membership in scary mountain-boy white supremacist clubs.
The last one I saw with a bulldog, the two of them pounding down West End Avenue, stalked directly into the path of an elderly woman who called out to him, “You should watch where you’re going!” To which he snapped out, “Fuck you, Jew bitch!” To which I remarked, dryly, “Oh, you’re so in the wrong neighborhood.” To which he responded, “Fuck you bitch!”
So let’s escape backward to the West Village and recall the nice man with the bulldog who looked like Bill Sykes’ dog, Bulls-Eye, although the man did not emit a Sykes aura.
One day I walked around the corner to buy a newspaper. As I exited the store, I encountered the white bulldog and his genial, fairly sexy master. I stopped in my tracks, which is what I tend to do on narrow sidewalks occupied by bulldogs.
The guy smiled at me. I gave him a qualified smile back and, for lack of anything further to say beyond, could he ask his dog to move far out of my way, I said, “Is that an English bull?”
“Yes!” said the guy. “This is Captain!” The dog was straining against his leash, more or less in my direction. “Do you want to say ‘hi’ to Captain?” he asked. I offered a weak gesture of, well, I don’t know, but OK, sure.
What follows is a word-for-word transcription of what Captain’s master then said. I have not invented one line in this monologue:
“First, show no fear. He’s real friendly and if you show him distrust you’ll hurt his feelings and maybe he’ll growl, maybe not.
“Just stand there. Don’t come to him. He likes to make the first move. So — uh, uh, no — don’t bend down like that — it’s kind of forcing yourself on him, he’s a private guy, he just might do quick little nips at your nose in warning.
“You’re doing great, by the way, just standing there. Pretty soon, I’ll tell you when, you can slap your tummy and call out, ‘Here, Captain!’, and he’ll jump right up with his feet on your stomach and say, ‘Hi!'”
I did not slap my tummy. I gave both dog and master a sweet smile and wide berth, and went home.