For some reason, me and my mother really wanted a Saint Bernard, and lo and beyold, one day there was a litter of St. Bernard puppies advertised in the Staten Island Advance. We drove out to Stapleton to see them, and when we rode up in the Gremlin, five adorable St Bernard puppies ran up to us, with their mother, Trina, looking on from the porch. We took the fluffiest and most rambunctious one, and we named him Ralph. after Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners.
When Ralph grew up, he was around 175 pounds. He used to wake us up every morning. My mother would open our bedroom doors when it was time to get up, and Ralph would jump on our beds and lick our faces. He also would occasionally let us put a t-shirt on him, but it had to be a large.
Dayo was a small black curly-haired mutt who used to sometimes come to work with Carol at the nature magazine. The nature magazine's offices were in a museum, and while Dayo was small, she wasn't small enough to fit in a handbag. But she could stay very still, at it was always dark in the museum when we got to work, so Carol would carry Dayo under her arm. One day when Carol was walking through the hall that led up to our offices, one of the guards saw Carol, but didn't really notice Dayo until she moved her head. He gasped, startled, and then laughed. "I thought she was a toy!" he said.
My first introduction to Ian was my mother bringing this Frankenstein dog up the walk. He was a huge Golden Retriever who lived at a junkyard and got into a fight with a Doberman. The Doberman was dead. Doc stitched up the retriever and put drainage tubes in his neck. My brother named him Ian Knox.
You could not imagine a nicer dog than Ian. He let the cat groom him, he behaved on the leash, he licked babies faces. He had a fear of the ocean and of heavy machinery. Ian had a favorite squeaky toy--a carrot with a face.
Meat Loaf was one of Doc's many bulldogs. We usually referred to her a "Miss Loaf" because the dainty sobriquet seemed to befit the massive drooling beast. Partially because she was on prednisone, and partially because she was a bulldog, Miss Loaf would eat anything, even the non-edible things, and so had to be carefully monitored when she hung out at the hospital. Loaf had an incredibly strong jaw and enjoyed clamping down on a hank of cloth or rope and being hoisted up and swung around. Only the very strong could do this--Loaf was around 65 pounds. I always felt a kinship with Miss Loaf--she and I were on the same medications.
Patsy was a beige chihuahua mix that technically belonged to my 10 year old cousin Michele. I don't know who thought Michele could take care of a chihuahua. Patsy was always trembling (in fear, it seemed) and peeing on the rug. My uncle hated that dog. He wanted the kids to have a dog, but he wanted the kids to have the dog he wanted--a big Siberian Husky. Patsy was the polar opposite of a Husky, and I think she could sense my uncle's ire.
At some point when Michele was out of the house for an extended period, Patsy went away. She wrote me a letter (we'd send letters between Jackson NJ and Staten Island) and told me that Patsy was given away to a couple. "A couple of what?" I responded.
Brower was what many people mistakenly call a pit bull, but he was a pure bred Staffordshire Bull Terrier who got shown and the whole deal. He didn't do too well in shows, though, because he was not well behaved. He hated other dogs. He terrorized poor Wes, the yellow Lab in the pen next to him.
I loved Brower. He was good with people and loved to play tug-of-war, and he looked like a shark with tiny powerful legs. Brower's neck was so big I could wear his collar as a belt.
Max hated all people of Eastern European descent, except my mother. Eddie couldn't go near him, nor could Eddie's brother. Max loved my mother, which was a good thing since she was the only one who could walk him when he stay at the kennel. He could have killed her if he wanted--he was, after all, that abomination of nature known as a giant schnauzer. I thought maybe I could pass, being that my bloodlines are so mixed and he did like my ma, but no, Max lunged at me and ruined my favorite pair of pants.
Eventually Max went crazy. He got out of the house when his people were at work, and he had people trapped in their cars as they came home from work. The police were called, and Max was taken away. He left dents in a few of the cars.