inmcqueenLast week, Kate (My girlfriend, who am I seriously considering giving a pseudonym/nick name to use when referencing her in the blog–like how Bill Simmons calls his wife the “Sports Gal.”  Ninja Girl, maybe?) spent the weekend in Brooklyn.  We decided to take her dog, Marshall, to nearby Tompkins Park which supposedly had a dog run that our friends Chris and Ari were going to with their dog, Jack.  Now, Marshall may look like one of the thousands of pampered toy dogs that are practically everywhere in the city (he’s a bichon-poddle mix), but he’s far from it.  He’s got some miles on him at nine-years old (52 in dog years), walks with a limp (a previous owner was abusive and broke his leg which didn’t heal correctly), and has a semi-cantankerous personality much like an old man.  I like this dog.

At some point on the walk over, Kate passed me the leash.  Just as we were arriving at the park, we ran into our friends, who were on their way out.  As we stopped to chat, I noticed a guy walking by with a pit bull.  Marshall perked up and pulled me over so he could greet the large dog with the obligatory canine ass sniffing (I know no better way to describe it).  I glanced away for a second, then heard the unmistakable sound of growling and snarling, and turned back to see the pit bull standing over Marshall—trying to fit his jaw around the head of my girl friend’s dog.

What lasted only a few seconds felt much longer.  While Kate screamed and people stared, I tried to wrestle Marshall (who had started to fight back) from the much bigger dog, while his owner tried to pull him off.  It was obvious that both dogs wanted nothing more to do with each other, but they’re wiggling bodies had become tangled and intertwined—creating more tension, snarling, and biting.  Then, just as quickly as the fight had begun, it was over and Marshall was free. Obviously, Kate was upset and kept yelling “What happened?”  I couldn’t understand if she didn’t fully witness the exchange, or believed that it was caused by me and the other dog’s owner, Roy (he seemed like a nice enough guy), encouraging the dogs to start their own fight club.  Marshall wagged his tail.  He would walk away with only an ear infection from a small cut in his ear and another cut on his cheek.  I was surprised by my reaction, that I didn’t loose my cool and join in the screaming, or just freeze up and watch.

“You’re good in a crisis,” Kate said.  In fact, this is something she’s said before and pointed out when Marshall had a seizure on New Year’s eve (yeah, this dog has problems) that was I the one who rationally found the phone number for an animal hospital, phoned, described the situation, and then got us into a taxi. To be honest, I was never the calm one.  I was always pretty flighty and panicky in a desperate situation, either voicing my frantic feelings or keeping them inside and waiting for the moment to pass (though I usually could never shut my mouth). Sure, I could be counted on to lend a calming hand to a friend in dire straights, but that was because it was from an objective perspective—if it affected me, I’d lose my shit.

Being good in a bad situation was always a value I wished I possessed.  My father’s method for dealing with insane moments is to vent his frustration by loudly cursing and then barking orders (he’s ex-military).  Effective, but it lacks style. I always liked Steve McQueen’s grace under pressure in movies like the Getaway, Bullit, and the Great Escape.  A cool exterior that exudes confidence.  Rescuing my girlfriend’s dog from being mauled may be a bit different from winning a shootout or escaping Nazis via motorcycle, but it’s the closest I’ve come so far.

I think that it has more to with the older I get.  I’ve lamented here before my disappointment that I’ve not had an adventure filled life at this point, but my experiences have not exactly been dull either. I’ve had my fair share of stranded scenarios and close calls that required improvising and quick thinking.  Maybe each one has helped me outgrow my previous condition of panicking and finally become the cool operator in a pinch that I’ve always wanted to be.

Exactly a week after the incident with Marshall and the other dog in the park, Kate and I came home to her place after a full day to find her roommate freaking out. “There’s a pigeon in the apartment!” She yelled. I hate pigeons.  What snakes are to Indiana Jones, that’s what pigeons are to me.  There are not enough words in the English language that can describe my abhorrence of pigeons.  And I felt them all as I watched this rat with wings flutter and perch itself near the ceiling. I shuttered (on the inside) and turned to Kate and her roommate.  “Get me a broom and stay back,” I said.

[Pic via]