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April 26, 2005

Market Street's Mayor Pushkin

Roy Meachum

It turns out I happen to live with the mayor of downtown's North Market Street. Put another way, Pushkin is lord of all he surveys from Fourth Street down to the Square Corner. The claim is not made lightly.

Each time the splendid English pointer steps off our stoop, he instantly becomes the object of compliments and affection. I've never really seen anything like it. Of course, I know some of the gushing comes out of mistaken identification.

For admirers under 10, Pushki can be a Dalmatian, lifted straight from Disney's cartoon world. One young lady, well within the allowable range, bounced her curls and gleefully called: Dal-manatian. And that's all right, too. My very faithful companion permits all sorts of liberties from the Kindergarten Set; she qualifies.

His many black spots and gleaming white coat can confuse, but allow me to quote from a dialogue with a post-teen African American. "He looks like a Dalmatian," she said, to which I replied: "I shouldn't have to tell you, little sister, you can't tell anything about anyone from color."

Every once in a while we are both surprised when someone puts him in the right canine pew. "What a cool pointer," one young man said, then went on to volunteer his family breeds Pushkin cousins in Florida.

But by whatever name, my four-legged buddy enjoys flowery approval. And he responds. Sometimes he assumes his pose Noble Dog, which consists of holding his jaw high and bracing his body pointedly on four paws.

My least favorite character is when he pretends to be Peanuts' Snoopy, slouching his body and lowering his head, imitating a miserable buzzard. Then there's Egyptian Cat: aligning his body in a straight line while lying down, legs out front and tail behind, head and eyes dead ahead.

He's at his best, it seems to me, when the praise pours from someone long out of kindergarten, preferably female. Not a question of favoritism, his response is based on the hands that offer biscuits on his promenade.

Let me count the names: Erica in the Velvet Lounge, Annaliese at B.B. &T, En Masse's Trisha, Carol who owns Bijoux, Alicia L's Pat and Venus on the Half Shell's Jennifer all have refreshments waiting.

Not until we hit Classic Cigars & British Goodies, on the corner of Second Street, headed home, does a gentleman get into the act. The owner is Pushki' s "Uncle" Joe Cohen, who romances my friend with treats and flattery delivered in the English accent of his native Manchester.

Not in the least snobbish, the English pointer gracefully acknowledges salutations from others, as he passes by. One of his missions in life is to help the young learn canine critters can be very friendly. Notice: I did not say "dog."

Pushkin is so polite that some folks think he shakes hands. He doesn't. Nor has he mastered any of those other tricks that "good dogs" know. Of all the four-legged marvels who have graced my life, he is honestly the closest to being human, like you.

When he disagrees, his teeth show and his mouth moves; he's talking, except his articulation leaves everything to be desired. Never mind. Literally. We frequently read each other's mind. I rarely fail to understand, no words needed. And he is very sensitive to me.

But that lack of comprehensible speech could be listed as an asset, if he ever decides to run for mayor of all Frederick. He would never bore the electorate with droning, self-serving speeches.

He would, in any case, go the hustings, as Uncle Joe says, with North Market Street votes tucked under one English pointer floppy ear. His circle of many advisors want him to keep things ready, just in case.

At present the conversations tend toward placing Pushkin in the ranks of the independents, which makes sense. He enjoys completely bipartisan support. Why alienate Republicans or Democrats?

Stay tuned.

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