To the Dogs

Walking from my gym to the E train at 8th avenue last night, I had occasion to pass Penn Station. I saw a dog shitting on the corner and its owner picking up the pieces. The wee thing was shivering violently and looking as if the cold were some kind of punishment. “Just give me the rolled-up newspaper!” I could hear him calling. “As long as it’s indoors!” Must be an out-of-town dog, I thought. New Yorkers love to dress their dogs in ridiculous outfits.

I passed by.

As I crossed 8th, there was another woman walking two dogs. I passed by.

Then there was a man holding a little bulldog. Carrying him across the street. Well, it’s slushy and cold. What a nice guy. I passed by.

Then I saw a great big cage on wheels. OK, a kennel on wheels. In it was a beautiful breed, though I’ll be damned if I know what it was.

OK, what’s going on here?

My eyes travelled along across the street ahead of me, from the kennel-on-casters all the way to Madison Square Garden. It was a surreal, orderly, linear exodus of dogs and owners. Some were caged. Some were carried carried. The majority were on foot. It all depended on their size and preciousness. The kennelled ones were witout exception skinny little things, shivering horribly, unused to such harshness. Great big ones lumbered by, sniffing all the random objects before them — the garbage can, the empty planter, the mailbox, other dogs — anything within leash range. One owner pulling a kennel was trying to surmount the snow drift between him and a taxi. The wheels were stuck and the dogs looked completely freaked out.

All these breeds, and there wasn’t a Siberian husky among them that would help pull?

It was like the Ark had just docked into a West-side pier. Not Noah’s, but rather his younger, less intelligent, rather more myopic brother. There were several varieties of terrier, a dalmatian, precious shih tzus, a robust English mastiff, a shaggy and ostentatiously tall Afghan, a couple enormous great Danes, French bulldogs in triplicate, several kinds of spaniels, border collies, bizarrely sculpted poodles (at least their haunches were warm, I thought), some creatures that looked like miniature greyhounds, or really big four-legged spiders, I couldn’t tell.

Ah… of course. This is the after-party of the Westminster Dog Show. Funny how the show’s lustre is dimished somewhat as soon as the animals are forced to deal with the real outside world and everyone’s rushing back to the Hotel Pennsylvania for a rub-down in the doggie spa and a snausage night cap after such a long and tiresome day. Even at events where it’s the humans being judged, the red-carpet affairs, when everyone shows up individually to make a carefully timed appearance, is where the glitz and glamour play out. But at the end of show, when everyone has a kid to tuck in or a martini with their name on it, we are all reduced to cattle.

The canine queue stretched all the way into the loading bay of the Garden, far back into the innards of the building. These must be champions. They were all certainly well-behaved. With the exception of the first little pup I saw, who I’m nt concinved was with this crew, I saw not a single turd among them.


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the untallied hours

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