by Mary Gulivindala
“If you can’t decide between a Shepherd, a Setter or a Poodle, get them all … adopt a mutt!”——ASPCA

First I would like to say that my intention here is not to insult any dog. This is actually an expression of gratitude and thanks for all your breed has done to help me, and those mutts in the vicinity around me at certain times when I must call upon your beautiful faces. BARK BARK, Thank You.

This article was written in memory of Mary’s beloved Beagle, Lucy, who died at the age of 14.

I love dogs. At present I have one. His name is Henri, and he is a Papillon. I lost my long-time best friend Lucy, a beagle, two years ago. Lucy lived 14 years and had a wonderful life. I miss her terribly and still look for her. I loved her, to say the least, and liked her more than I like most people.

I used to live in New York City for 10 years, a fine dog town, I might add. That’s where Lucy chose me to be her owner. Six years later I adopted Henri. I had him flown in from the midwest, but we consider him a New Yorker as well.

Living in NYC for me was fantastic; however, at times it was hard, exhausting and draining navigating my daily life. Being a New Yorker is not for the meek and timid. One must strap on one’s armor before heading out the door into the hustle, push and shove, to get on the subway for one’s daily commute. Me, I strapped on a baby while I pushed another one in a stroller. If I was not getting on a train, I had my dogs with me as well. You get the picture.

If you’ve ever been standing on a crowded subway platform in NYC at 7:45 a.m., you know it’s survival of the fittest. You don’t always get the next train, even though you’re next. I was the woman with the strap-on baby and stroller kid yelling loudly, “Excuse me; I’m getting on,” and I would plow my way into the crowd of standing tired, cranky New Yorkers, who look like cattle going to slaughter. Oh yes, that woman was me, shameless warrior woman.

Living that lifestyle taught me a great deal about people and myself. I loved riding the trains because I’m a people-watcher. Not everyone is happy at that time of day except for the drunk guy sleeping in the corner taking up TWO seats. I had my fair share of unpleasant interactions with people, as would anyone during this daily grind.

I had to develop coping skills to keep my sanity. Many times I stood there pissed off at the jerk in the suit younger than I, hiding behind his Wall Street Journal, pretending he didn’t see my weary need for his seat. God forbid he should get up and offer it to a woman with children. I realized I couldn’t control people through glaring with piercing, contempt-filled eyes, so I had to change me, because if I didn’t, I could either:

•A. Become a jerk myself.

•B. Go to jail for pushing some obnoxious person off the landing onto an oncoming train, or

•C. Change my attitude.

Guess which one I chose? C. Only because of the children, though. I would have much preferred option B.

One morning I created a game. I am very adept at identifying different breeds of dogs. I credit the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is a two-day, all-breed competition that takes place at Madison Square Garden annually. It is my Super Bowl; I love it! This year it is on Feb. 13 and 14, so appropriate, because as I stated previously, I love dogs more than people, so Valentine’s Day would be the obvious show date.

With my knowledge of dogs and my daily routine of survival, I found if I looked around the crowded train and imagined which breed my fellow passengers would be if they were dogs, I could enjoy my ride amongst the obnoxious, entitled, loud and self-centered sardines I was traveling with. This game also includes the nice people too. Most of them are Golden Retrievers or Labradors, nothing too exotic. People’s attitudes, behavior and appearances influenced my choice of breed. It is great fun!

When playing this game, my anger would diminish, my frustration would dissipate, and my police record, or lack of one, would keep the same status, squeaky clean. Here are four examples of dog breeds to help you learn how to play the game.

•First up is the Golden Retriever people. Everyone loves them except the cranky curmudgeons. Golden Retriever people are happy-go-lucky, eager to please and all- around friendly. You don’t see many of them on your morning commute.

•Next up the Poodle people. They usually live on the Upper East Side. They are high-maintenance, designer-wearing, over-primped male or female humans who love to be admired. They think very highly of themselves.

•Next, the Pit Bull Terrier people dominate the train in both numbers and attitude. The Pit Bull is the person who will snap at you anytime and can be quite vicious. You never trust a Pit Bull person. I stay as far away from this breed of person as possible.

•Finally there is the Mutt person, a mixed-breed dog whose ancestry is unknown. These people are the general population. Most people are Mutts. They are the common folk. I am a Mutt. Some days are good and some bad, but if I had to share a seat on the train, I would want it to be next to a mutt.

My advice to anyone who is becoming angry, annoyed or disgruntled during your day, losing your patience with the Mercedes driver you’re stuck behind driving 25 mph when he should be doing 60 (he is not deserving of all that horsepower) is this: play the game and pretend he’s a dog.

Chestnut Hill resident and “life coach” Mary Gulivindala is the founder of Blue Print Life & Wellness Coaching. More info at