That’s Newton. He’s a Burmese Mountain Dog that comes into the Hotel fairly regularly. I’ve had a special affinity for huge dogs ever since I got into the business. Newfies, St. Bernards, Akitas, BMG’s, anything that looks like it could be wearing a saddle, I love it. I’ve always said that what I would really love to do is get a Newfie and BMG together, but it would require me to get a second or third job in order to may for the food. One alternative would be to get an Akita (Book plug: Dogman), but, as loyal as those dogs are and as big as they are, I fear that if I got the dog first and later a girlfriend, I’d come home one night to a nice romantic dinner on the table and the Akita picking bits of the new girlfriend out of his teeth.)
Newton was certainly not the only BMD that came into the Hotel, but he’s the one I especially loved. I think it’s because he loved me. You hear that sentiment often when you hear people talk about their dogs and I believe it whole-heartedly. The concept that we don’t choose our dogs, our dogs choose us. Working in the Hotel, we used to talk all the time about who our favorites were. One conversation drifted toward what would happen if there was a fire in the workplace and we joked that if the Mart was a-blazin’, you would see all the Hotel employees running outside with 2-3 of their favorites. Me, I would have rushed to the parking lot with about 4 of the biggest dogs I could find.
Anyway, as I said, Newton really chose me. When day camp was happening, I could see him sitting at the gate and looking out at me. Then he would get up, his tail in the perked-up position and wagging away. When I got past the gate, I would hit my haunches and he would nuzzle up next to me (well, “nuzzle” isn’t the right word. BMG’s don’t “nuzzle”. More like press against your leg like a breathing anvil). Sometimes he would hit the deck and lay on his back and I would scratch his massive belly. Still other times, he would yawn and walk up to me and cop a squat on my feet, rendering me unable to move, but I didn’t really mind. By “he chose me” I mean that we certainly have the breeds we like best and I’ve seen all kinds of people with dogs exactly suited for them. The weird (crazy?) single lady that always brought her two Chihuahuas in? Perfect. The elderly gentleman that came in to pick up his hulking Rottweiler with a heart of gold named Carl? Couldn’t have picked a more fitting pair (or name. Dammit, the dog just looked like a Carl). I especially like it when the owner did not match up with their dog. The late middle-aged woman with a heart of gold. Her two yellow labs also seemed to have hearts of gold, and the woman would regale us with stories of them eating mailboxes. Or the professional looking man with an ID lanyard around her neck. He would come in to pick up his Border Collie, a sweet-looking black/white Border Collie who’s temperament made the junkyard dog look like a bubbly college tour guide. The list goes on.
A dog really chooses their own name. I have names I want to give to dogs, but in my heart, I know they will tell me what their name is when they’re ready. That’s what Kilgore did. And I don’t know how Newton got his name, but it fits him fine.
About the picture. When I came into Newton’s room and squatted down to get the photo, you would have thought he did it a million times. He sat down and looked right into the camera. He didn’t smile. I look at the photo and I think of one of those old paintings of George Washington or Ben Franklin, like they know something they just can’t tell anyone else.