Pug — Pugs are generally short. Fat. Slow. They can't breathe. Dull teeth and bad breath. Eyes that fall out sometimes. Similar in size and temperament to a mutated regulation NFL football just sitting there wobbling. Our pug was like that, but also, she was obsessed with flipping rocks and eating whatever slimy or crunchy things were under the rocks. Our back yard fence was lined with flower beds edged from jetty rock, and spring, summer, fall, our pug walked in a continuous loop sniffing and then flipping the jetty rocks, which were almost as big as her. Under the rocks were beetles, centipedes, millipedes, ants, earth worms, slugs, more beetles, caterpillars, crickets, regular worms, spiders, the occasional toad. When the heat of the back yard got to be too much, she’d woo-woo at the screen door till my brother or father let her in the house. Then she’d suck down a gallon of water without stopping and vomit up beetles, centipedes, millipedes, ants, earth worms, slugs, wooly bear caterpillars, crickets, and whatever else, onto the kitchen floor. Later in her life, this pug came and lived with me in the city, but was depressed about it. She roamed the apartment in a never ending search for rocks to flip, dragging her face on the hardwood floor, sniffing, and munching on dust bunnies, dead cockroaches, the occasional stray potato chip. She wandered the rooms like a spirit, snorting, sneezing, woo-wooing, the click of her nails on the floor like the sound of a person working slowly at a typewriter, getting nowhere.
German Shepherd - Narc. Hates fun. Fascist. Bred to fight crime, so don't buy if you're a criminal. Sharp teeth. Loud ass bark. My parents had one that they named Cybil. Cybil Shepherd, haha. My parents got caught growing pot in between their tomato plants down in south Jersey. I think Cybil Shepard reported them to the cops.
Mutts — When I was a little boy we lived in a yellow house on the edge of the pine barrens. We had two mutts, Salt and Pepper. They were brothers, and rumor had it my dad brought them home from someone else who worked at the junkyard. But these weren’t mean dogs, they’d never have made it as junkyard dogs. They slept peacefully in a bed of pine needles underneath a cap to a red pickup truck on the side of the house where my dad fixed cars. I used to run through the field next to the house and the dogs would chase me. I’d pick wild blueberries and sometimes play in the creek that ran along the road. One day, when I was walking alone, I was jumped by some older kids, who threw rocks and knocked me into the dirt. They threw my sneakers into the creek so they’d wash away. I was nervous to tell my parents about my shoes. They didn’t have money for new ones. But later on, I walked barefoot to the creek with Salt and Pepper and they waded out into the cedar-stained water, disappearing into the galvanized pipe that ran beneath the road. I was nervous the dogs would drown, but they didn’t. They came out of the pipe, one dragging the shoes by their shoelaces, the other with a big ass stick.
Maltese — My mom shoplifted a Maltese one time out of a pet shop in a strip mall near the industrial park. It looked really sick. Neglected and weak. I think she saved its life. For years there were photos of the dog all over the house, like the dog was the god of the house. When you'd sit on the toilet you'd have to look at pictures of the dog god. When it died at the ripe old age of 14, my parents bought a new dog, same breed. They liked to put the new dog in sweaters, so we called the new dog College Boy, which is a shot because no one in my family went to college. They’d say it real mockingly, “Ooooo look at the little college boy …”
Cerberus - Monstrous multi-headed pooch guarding the gates of the underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. Also known as the Hound of Hades. Not a good pet, because if you took it to your apartment, then the gates of the underworld would be unguarded and the dead would walk the earth again.
Schnauzer — This year, right after the super bowl, I was walking up the block from the bar on the corner and there was a guy outside my apartment building with a dog on a leash.
“What kind of dog is that?”
“Well, haw-haw, it’s a schnauzer, of course!”
I was surprised by the guy’s pompous attitude. I kind of live in a slum. So I mimicked his pompous laugh and then said, “What’s so, of course about your dog?”
“You simply look at it and know it’s a schnauzer. Any fool can.”
“I know now,” I said. “Before, not so much. There’s nothing of course about your schnauzer, except of course its owner is a prick.”
“Well, of course,” he said, “you could go fuck yourself.”
He walked off, and I stood there laughing the way any drunk person does on any sidewalk right after the super bowl.
When I got in the apartment, I googled ‘schnauzer’, and yeah, it’s german for snout. All dogs come from Germany, I guess. Schnauzer loosely translates to mustache. From my limited research, it appears that schnauzers are chill dogs that look like walking mustaches who are owned by pompous assholes who may or may not live in my building. Believe me, I’ll be keeping a look out.
Labrador Retriever — The Beatles of dogs. Comes in four colors. Likes to swim.
Doberman Pincher — My friend’s father was afraid of banks, so he kept gold bars in a safe hidden in the walls(?) of his house. The house was guarded by a doberman, named Spartacus. Doberman Pinchers are the dog that I think looks most like the Alien from the movie Alien. Believe it or not, this pup was invented by a tax collector. Graceful. Smooth coats. Everyone who owns a doberman either has a fortune of gold hidden in the walls of their house, or assumes they are about to.
Min Pin — If you have some gold that needs guarding but not like a crazy amount.
Beagle — They had a beagle at the gates of the power plant one day. You had to put your lunch box down and let the beagle sniff your lunch box for drugs or booze or bomb residue. Who knows? I just had a black plastic bag from the liquor store where I'd stashed ingredients to make salad. The dog handler pointed at my bag and the beagle stuck his head in the plastic bag and latched down on a head of lettuce. The handler was yelling at the dog and I was laughing. She pulled the lettuce out of his mouth and stood there holding the rest of the lettuce. It was six twenty am. The sun wasn't up. A mist hung over the epicenter of the industrial wastelands of America.
Corgi - Kind of like if you let an amateur scientist try and grow a dog in a Petri dish. That's a Corgi.
Wiener Dogs — Bred exclusively to put a hot dog bun costume on for Halloween. Excellent dogs for chilly climates, will lie down in front of door and block a draft. Can fit into small foxholes, for whatever you'd need in times of war, but don't expect much - this dog is named after a kind of sausage.
Saint Bernard - Outside a McDonald's in Bakersfield, California, a man in a minivan painted red white and blue with "USA!" written on the hood was feeding a St. Bernard some chicken McNuggets. One after the other. Popping those McNuggets in the dog's happy mouth. Never a happier dog in the world.
Chihuahua - A chihuahua was in the back seat of the USA flag mini van and it was barking like crazy. The man saw me watching and said, “That's my wife's little pocketbook pup ... I’m not being mean. I can't give him any nuggets 'cause he’s on seizure medication."
“But, I guess, that's not all, really.”
“Okay. So what’s the whole deal?”
“Tell you the truth, I’m not a big fan of Mexicans.”
Boston Terrier — One lonely summer, I was collecting unemployment from my job at the power plant and dog sitting a Boston Terrier named Bubby. It started out that I could walk the dog around the city block and she would take one lone shit. But as the days went on, she’d take two shits on a single walk, and then three, eventually working up to four. She was doing everything possible to make the walks longer and longer, to venture farther and farther away from the apartment. I didn’t care, but it was often that I didn’t have enough plastic bags to pick up after her, so I had to use trash on the ground as a makeshift scoop. She was great company, but she was challenging. Suddenly she would stop in the middle of a busy intersection, squat and shake, ambulances trying to turn into the hospital. Busses and taxi cabs zipping around us, horns blaring. The time I felt the worst though was when we walked down a long stretch of tree-lined blocks, and it was truly the most beautiful day in July. There was a solitary construction worker sitting on a brownstone stoop, eating his Chinese food lunch. Well here’s my dog, trotting along without a care in the world for hundreds of feet, and then squatting down immediately in front of the guy. It was a horrible shit too. A getting sick and needs-to-go-to-the-vet shit. And as she shits, the guy says, “Oh, thanks so much for this. What a treat!” I didn’t have anything to pick it up with, so I had to ask him for the paper bag his lunch came in. He thanked me again. Chucked his food in the trash can next to the stoop. Went back inside to work.
Bud Smith works heavy construction and writes. His books are F250, Dust Bunny City, and Calm Face, among others. He lives in Jersey City, NJ. www.budsmithwrites.com
Rae Buleri is a textile artist, and illustrator. She likes to walk and talk on the phone. Instagram: @raewatch