Alison Berkley: In Aspen, you can tell a heck of a lot about a man by the size of his … dog
September 17, 2002
I never imagined I’d have so many dogs in my life. I’m talking about the ones with four legs, not two. Lord knows there’s been plenty of the two-legged variety.
In a town where the dog-to-person ratio is about the same as the male-to-female ratio, a girl ends up learning as much about dogs as she does about men, even if the differences are few.
It didn’t take long to figure out that it is possible to identify the man by his dog, because more often than not, they are a stunning reflection of one another. This is a very helpful tool for women who don’t want to waste their time barking up the wrong tree, so to speak. If you want to know the true essence of a man, chances are he’s walking around town with it on the end of a leash.
The Big Dog
If a big foot means that a guy has a big … shoe, a big dog is the sure sign of a big attitude. Don’t ever try to take control because the more you shorten their leash, the harder they’ll pull away, treating you with about as much regard as a ball and chain.
On the other hand, don’t misunderstand their size. These dogs are big babies who need you more than you think and can be won over easily if you toss them a little treat once in a while. But don’t kid yourself ? they need a lot of space.
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My roommate Damon has a 120-pound Saint Bernard named Mamzer (loosely translated, means “bastard” in Yiddish). “Mums” has dark brown markings around his eyes which give him this seedy, untrusting look, like a gangster behind dark glasses.
He stalks around the house tough-guy style, sort of slow but on guard so as to let you know you best not mess with him, his toys, his food or his little corner of the house. He is the Big Guy, the Big Kahuna, the bouncer of this here establishment ? you want in, you have to get past me, buddy.
But as soon as Daddy leaves him alone for five minutes, he skulks around and demands attention. He’ll press his whole body against you or even sit down in your lap (he’s tall enough to where he can have his front paws on the ground and his rump on the couch) or stand directly in front of the TV.
Don’t get me wrong ? Mums and Damon are both very sweet in their own oversized sort of way. I just don’t recommend that you mess with their territory or do anything to piss either one of them off.
The Preppy Dog
There are a million of these in Aspen. Golden retrievers and Labs top the list. They’re always named after beer labels (“Guinness”), mountain ranges (“Sierra”), or Grateful Dead songs (“Aiko”).
You can count on the fact that their owners probably spent summers in Nantucket or went to boarding school. They’re all good looking in an old-money sort of way and are just as likely to end up on the cover of a J Crew catalog as their dog is.
Their tails are always wagging and they always look mindlessly happy like they don’t care who you are (old friend, brother, serial killer, it’s all the same to them) or where you came from, as long as you toss something their way.
The golden who lived in our house was named Tuckerman ? after Tuckerman’s Ravine, a famed mountain in New Hampshire. I didn’t know Ollie, his owner, all that well because I moved into his room after he left for Denver to be with his girlfriend (Denver? If that’s not a demented game of fetch, I don’t know what is).
He was from Darien, Conn., and had those Kennedy looks ? tousled short brown hair and dimples that could melt an iceberg. In the short time I spent with him he drank a bunch of beers, chatted up a storm (wag, wag, pant, pant) and seemed to be celebrating the fact that it was a Tuesday night in May.
If cookie-cutter looks are what you want, shop at The Gap. While these dogs are always happy and easy to please, the problem is they’re all the same.
The Winter Dog
If I meet one more Siberian Husky with an Alaskan name I’m going to hurl. I’ve got news for you ? these dogs are shady. I know, they have beautiful eyes and a wonderful coat and fit right into the whole mountain theme quite well, but they cannot be trusted.
You have to keep them on a leash at all times and make sure you don’t leave any doors open. My old roommate Bob had a gorgeous blue-eyed husky named Keno (gag) who always managed to escape, no matter how seal-tight we thought the yard was ? kind of like Bob and his relationships.
Bob eventually got married (as if a knot would tie him down), but always found a way out and was always on the prowl. Unless you have a big sled or a very large yard somewhere in the Arctic Circle, I suggest you don’t try to keep these pups contained because they’re always going to get away.
The Aggressive Dog
Pit bulls and Rottweilers top this list, as do chows, Akitas and German shepherds. Every guy I know who has one of these dogs will always tell you how sweet they are once you get to know them. Meanwhile, the dog is foaming at the mouth, and you wonder why they need bondage-style collars with more hardware than a chain saw.
The thing that’s cool about these dogs is they’re bad-ass, and you really do have to earn their affection. There’s nothing that turns a girl on more than the lion who turns into a pussycat behind closed doors ? you just have to know how to tame them.
The Little Dog
A little dog is like an accessory. Toting around one of these overgrown rats is no different than owning an expensive purse or designer eyeglasses or fancy shoes ? you simply could not get any more unmanly than that!
I don’t care how smart they are, or how many tricks they can do, or how they have less impact on your house or whatever. If you want a small animal, go buy a cat. Unless it’s a scruffy little mutt or some cool cattle breed (they’re smart and can run fast), a small dog means … well, you do the math.
[The Princess’s dog is half chow with a strong, square jaw like Brad Pitt’s. You can e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.]