|Rebell @ ‘Head of the Meadow’ Beach, Cape Code, MA|
|Tanner & Dexter, the cereal killer|
from GIMME SHELTER: “These peaceful strolls [with Tanner] were a far cry from New York and my walks with Rebel. Morning and night, those streets throbbed with the energy of eight million bustling souls leaving their mark on the Naked City. Every trip meant seven flights of stairs, or waiting for the elevator and a possible scuffle with one of the hulking Shepherds, Akitas, and Dobermans that called our building home. For fun, we had the parks. There was Washington Square where Rebel made a game of rumbling over the homeless men who bunked in the weedy grass, and tiny James Walker on Hudson Street where we played ball in the snow at 4 AM after I’d finished driving my cab, cheered on by Norway rats the size of wildebeest.
Excitement was commonplace, even in Greenwich Village. On one occasion I foiled a car burglary, threatening to sic Reb with his wagging tail and goofy demeanor on the startled and not-so-bright thief. Another time, we chased a purse-snatcher down 8th Street and held him at bay until the police came screeching to the rescue. And there was the day, on a Westside Pier, when I pried a terrified Poodle from the jaws of a snarling Malamute. I took six stitches for my efforts, while Eugenie and Reb watched from the sidelines.
We met our share of city dogs–a Setter named Shiloh and a pointer named Raff were Reb’s favs-– but most of our pals walked on two legs, not four. Like the Lebanese brothers who owned the local deli. I don’t remember how it started, but they took a liking to “Rappi” as they called him. They insisted that I bring him along whenever I stopped by. While I did my shopping, he’d sit by the counter as they chucked him remnants of ham, turkey, and other cold cuts that they’d set aside just for him. If a customer dared to complain about the unsanitary practice, he was told–not asked-to leave. One gusty autumn afternoon, Rebel and I were strolling down Commerce Street by the Cherry Lane Theatre. He had just finished scarfing down a mountain of bologna. I was babbling to him, cooing his name or some variation (Reb or Rebbie) as he did his business. While I was picking up, I noticed a diminutive old woman headed my way. She was scowling. “You should be ashamed”, she said, wagging her finger and shaking her head. Her accent was European and thick, like Maria Ouspenskaya –“ It is the pentagram, the sign of the wolf”–in the original Wolfman. “You should be ashamed”, she repeated, waiting for an apology. I shrugged, perplexed. I’d bagged the poop; what more did she want? “To name the dog for the rabbi and make fun!” Being a heathen, it took me a moment to process my transgression. When I did, I rushed to explain but she waved me off and scuttled away, clucking in disgust.”