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Dozer the pit bull bids farewell to The Bullpen

A host of regulars say their teary goodbyes to bar’s beloved mascot

Dozer, official dog of The Bullpen, on his last night
Dozer, official dog of The Bullpen, on his last night

His watery eyes are open, but they don’t blink. He’s spreadeagled on his cushion at the foot of Papa Joe’s stool, his nose and mouth splayed over his black and yellowish toenails.

“It’s his last night,” says Papa Joe. “Putting him down tomorrow. He knows. Everybody knows. It’s not right to keep him suffering. He’s getting old. He has major health issues. He’s hurting. We can’t ask him to go on just to help our feelings. He’s done his due.”

His name is Dozer. He’s pushing 15 years old. Pitbull. In his day, you can see, Dozer was a bruiser. But, Papa Joe insists, he always loved everybody. And everybody loved him right back. “He became the bar’s dog,” says Papa Joe. “You’ve got to understand, this Bullpen is our special place. It’s the last real dive bar. The owner won’t have it any other way. And I don’t mean it’s just a place pretending to be a dive bar. The pool is free, the beer prices are lower than anywhere else around here…”

“And you are the only bar I know that still serves Arrogant Bastard ale on draft,” I interrupt. Cos that’s why I’m here. I love that hoppy, happy ale. Me and — so I hear — the 20,000 bikers who have kind of adopted it.

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All the while we’re talking, Dozer is dozing, but people are coming up to where Papa John sits nursing his beer (not an Arrogant Bastard, not yet) and keeping Dozer company. Everybody first hugs Papa Joe, then leans down — kneels down — and hugs Dozer long and silently, all along whispering murmurs of love into his ear. Dozer takes it philosophically and waits. He knows they are going to give him things: a piece of sausage, donuts, a sandwich, an oozy slice of cake. “He loves cake,” says Maria. At least I think it’s Maria — all our eyes are swimming. She’s the manager here. Dozer used to be hers, until, by mutual agreement, she passed him on to her most regular customer and friend, Papa Joe.

The stories pour out about Dozer. I’ve downed two Arrogant Bastards by now, so I’m not sure how accurate they are, or how accurate my memory is, but he was born in 2009. Somebody says the date was 9-11. He also may have been at every Cinco de Mayo celebration here for the last 15 years. And didn’t he, for the longest time, have a doggie girlfriend named Katie? Stories and laughs bounce back and forth. People sit down with Dozer on his cushion and just talk to him.

Then, a couple of hours later, Papa Joe gets off his stool. Dozer looks up inquiringly.

“Come on Dozer. Let’s go bye-byes.”

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Dozer, official dog of The Bullpen, on his last night
Dozer, official dog of The Bullpen, on his last night

His watery eyes are open, but they don’t blink. He’s spreadeagled on his cushion at the foot of Papa Joe’s stool, his nose and mouth splayed over his black and yellowish toenails.

“It’s his last night,” says Papa Joe. “Putting him down tomorrow. He knows. Everybody knows. It’s not right to keep him suffering. He’s getting old. He has major health issues. He’s hurting. We can’t ask him to go on just to help our feelings. He’s done his due.”

His name is Dozer. He’s pushing 15 years old. Pitbull. In his day, you can see, Dozer was a bruiser. But, Papa Joe insists, he always loved everybody. And everybody loved him right back. “He became the bar’s dog,” says Papa Joe. “You’ve got to understand, this Bullpen is our special place. It’s the last real dive bar. The owner won’t have it any other way. And I don’t mean it’s just a place pretending to be a dive bar. The pool is free, the beer prices are lower than anywhere else around here…”

“And you are the only bar I know that still serves Arrogant Bastard ale on draft,” I interrupt. Cos that’s why I’m here. I love that hoppy, happy ale. Me and — so I hear — the 20,000 bikers who have kind of adopted it.

Sponsored
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All the while we’re talking, Dozer is dozing, but people are coming up to where Papa John sits nursing his beer (not an Arrogant Bastard, not yet) and keeping Dozer company. Everybody first hugs Papa Joe, then leans down — kneels down — and hugs Dozer long and silently, all along whispering murmurs of love into his ear. Dozer takes it philosophically and waits. He knows they are going to give him things: a piece of sausage, donuts, a sandwich, an oozy slice of cake. “He loves cake,” says Maria. At least I think it’s Maria — all our eyes are swimming. She’s the manager here. Dozer used to be hers, until, by mutual agreement, she passed him on to her most regular customer and friend, Papa Joe.

The stories pour out about Dozer. I’ve downed two Arrogant Bastards by now, so I’m not sure how accurate they are, or how accurate my memory is, but he was born in 2009. Somebody says the date was 9-11. He also may have been at every Cinco de Mayo celebration here for the last 15 years. And didn’t he, for the longest time, have a doggie girlfriend named Katie? Stories and laughs bounce back and forth. People sit down with Dozer on his cushion and just talk to him.

Then, a couple of hours later, Papa Joe gets off his stool. Dozer looks up inquiringly.

“Come on Dozer. Let’s go bye-byes.”

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