I walked along the West Side of the Hudson River, and I walked along the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. Every dog I saw was ugly. Strikingly ugly. Ugly enough to have character. You wanted to pet them and praise their owners for taking them in. Give them a hug, even.
I wanted to have a dog like that suddenly. A dog that came with a great back story. Yes, this is my hound Archibald Wrex. I caught him in my bare arms as he leapt from the back of a dump truck on the way to the city dump. He had fleas, mange and needed a lot of dental work, but I cleaned him up and straightened him out. And here he is. A true reclamation project. Not pretty, but serviceable. Won’t fetch, lie down or play dead. He eats the couch cushions if you leave the room. We had to put in patio furniture in the den. But he wags what’s left of his tail if you scratch him just right under his chin. Great with most small children. He only tries to bite orphans, can’t explain how he knows an orphan from any other child. It’s like a sixth sense he has. Anyway, do you like his gold tooth?
Of course my dog is nothing like the complicated, hard-to-love and yet compelling Archibald Wrex. Boo Radley is a beautiful ruby-colored King Charles Cavalier Spaniel my wife picked out of a store window in a puppy store on the Upper East Side. We bought him in a moment of weakness and economic optimism.
He eats pencils and headphones when he can find them on the floor. He’s been gnawing on the same large bone for a solid month, one that looks like the femur of a water buffalo, only larger. But he gnaws without as much enthusiasm as he once had. You can tell he thinks of it as a work project with a deadline at this point, whereas once he chewed on it feverishly as if it were his first unpublished novel, an indie masterpiece that would be unappreciated by the masses and loved by the critics.
People love him wherever he goes and stoop to pet him. He wags his tail. He stands on his back legs to allow his golden head to be scratched. How boring is that?