Weekdays with Seymour

I lived in New York full-time from June 2015 — July 2016 and walked dogs to make extra cash in between touring with bands. Manhattan is probably the dog-walking capital of the world. You can make a living wage if you can tolerate being outside when it’s really hot and really cold and are brave enough to use a bicycle to navigate the City.

This week I got some sad news about a special doggie friend of mine. Seymour the English Bulldog passed away from cancer. His owners texted me the news and tears came immediately. He had been having some health issues, but this was unexpected. Seymour was like a son to them. They loved him very much and took him everywhere in his stroller, even on the Highline, where dogs are not technically allowed. When I would take him to the East River, we were often mistaken for a dad pushing his baby. The looks we got from joggers when they got close enough to see the “baby inside the stroller” were priceless.

I met Seymour a few months after Buddy passed away. *ole Buddy was a Wheaten Terrier around since the Topanga days, a scruffy teddy bear with a heart of gold who once spent 3 days running with the coyotes of the Canyon*

Walking other people’s dogs helped me through the grief of losing my Buddy, but Seymour was different. Seymour wasn’t just a dog I walked, he was my friend. I spent 2 hours a day with him, sometimes 5 days a week, so I spent more of my time in NYC with him than anyone. *except my fiancé-later-wife*

When we strolled the sidewalks in the UES and later Chelsea, everyone we encountered stopped to say “Hi,” or simply laughed and smiled at the big bulldog getting pushed along in a stroller by a guy in running clothes.

I felt like our presence (let’s be honest, HIS presence) improved their day. People would sometimes ask, “What’s wrong with the Bulldog, is he hurt??” I would reply, “Nah, he’s fine. He’s just saving his energy for the park.”

It was true, once we got to the East River walkway, Seymour would stand up and let me lift him out of the stroller. Then he would run. 65 lbs of muscle and pure determination barreling down the promenade. He would run for a mile and then bury his head into the water dish at the dog park.

He knew right where we were going. He would expend every ounce of energy he had playing with the other dogs chasing tennis balls. He wasn’t the fastest dog, but he was determined. Eventually he would claim a ball and retreat underneath the bench where I was sitting and take a dirt nap. After a while I would tell him, “Ok Seymour, let’s go home.” He would run to his stroller and put his front paws on the edge. I would lift him into his stroller and push him home while he chewed the tennis ball of the day. *He always ended up with another dog’s tennis ball in his mouth and he’d usually chew it up into scraps by the time we got back to his place*

When he moved to Chelsea, it was a longer commute for me but I still went as often as I could. I wanted to see him. The dog park in Chelsea has three pools. Seymour would jump into the small pool and then the medium pool. He loved, loved, loved the water. He would splash around and tourists would crowd the fence to take pictures of the Bulldog playing in the water.

There was a big pool at the dog park but the rim was 3 feet tall, so he would watch wistfully as more agile dogs jumped in and swam around. Sometimes he would climb up on a box and stick his front paws into the pool.

On our last walk together, I didn’t tell him I was leaving NYC. It was June and it was really hot. I had shortened his run to half a mile, with a water break. When we got to the park, he jumped into the pool and grinned at me. He was in his happy place. Then a dog jumped into the big pool and splashed him. He looked up at the dog and then ran around to the box and hopped up to put his paws on the big pool. He wanted in. He looked at me with his very human, pleading eyes. “Please! Help me get in there!”

I walked over, picked him up and gently lifted him over the rim. His legs were already dog-paddling. I let him go and he swam in a counter-clockwise circle, chasing the other dog out in the process. The big pool was his. He came back to me and I scooped him out of the water. The tourists watching cheered for the swimming Bulldog.

He chased after a tennis ball and won his prize. Soaking wet he clambered into his carriage and I pushed him towards home. He was exhausted and happy. He looked back at me and smiled.

That’s how I’ll remember him.