it was the Winter of 2007, Spencer had been in Vermont at Natural Dog Training (www.naturaldogtraining.com) for about a month or so. It’s run by my friend and trainer elite Kevin Behan. One of the ways Kevin connects dog and owner, especially when the dog is adopted and coming into a new home, is by playing “hide and seek” in the woods. There is something special about seeing your dog pick up your scent in the woods, tracking you until you literally come face to face, deep in the woods, chilled to the bone. it’s exhilarating and primal, and you know at that moment you are helping your dog fulfill a need that is embedded in them by nature; something missing in their mostly domesticated lives in the modern world. it was amazing and the start of our journey together; 2 beings thrust together by fate or timing, a dog no one wanted, adopted by a man looking for something more out of life.
a few pounds heavier, a new woman in his life (my fiance), a happy dog. enjoy the video
have not been inspired to write in a while; no particular reason. i guess life gets in the way sometimes.
it’s been a great month though; free from some of the drama that was present in my life since the end of last year. i’m thankful for that.
spencer is almost 4 now and the adult stage of his life is wonderful. you can see the joy in his eyes and the calm in his emotions. it’s a beautiful thing when a dog is connected to his owner, his routine, his life. my dog trainer kevin behan always used to say to me that all dogs love their owners but few trust them; that when a dog trusts his owner and feels safe, they become the animal they were intended to be.
i was reminded of this fact early this morning. i went into the cheese shop where i congregate with the breakfast club each morning (a group of us gather there each morning and shoot the breeze). spencer is not allowed inside and while we normally stand outside and talk, today we were all inside so i left the big guy outside to fend for himself.
there is such fluidity between spencer and i, that when i walked in, i knew intuitively that he would find a way to ground himself and wait for me to come back out, whenever i was ready. and while he was not thrilled to be out there while i enjoyed my coffee and bagel with my friends, he nonetheless made due. i hate comparing him to other dogs, but most who are left alone begin to vibrate and show signs of anxiety; barking, scratching at the door to come in, whining, etc. not spencer; he found a seat near the door and waited patiently for my return. at one point when i was about done with my breakfast, i turned around and saw him staring at me through the door, lying on the ground with his head up. i had almost forget he was there, and therein lies what’s possible between dog and man; mutual trust and understanding. it was a great moment even though to most it would appear benign. not for me; i knew from where he came and where he is today; grounded, sated, calm but full of life. so i put on my jacket and went outside, opened the back door to my car and up he went.
on the drive home; i turned around and there he was, sitting near the window, eyes open and alive; happy to be heading home for his morning nap.
what a dog.
we’ll never fully understand dogs. so much of what they do and how they behave and interact with each other and us is a mystery. that’s the interesting part. for example, as you’ll see from the photo, spencer and his new friend henri seem to be pretty comfortable with each other, and they are. however, if little henri nears spencer’s water bowl while the big guy is drinking…..lookout. or if spencer is chewing a bone and henri tries to take it, not a pretty sight.
if there is a dustup, within seconds, literally, they are back to their friendly ways like it never happened; no grudges, no long conversations and apologies, neither dog trying to make up for bad behavior. it’s actually quite amazing if you think about it.
dogs live in the moment, and have no memory of what happened 5 minutes ago. the change in demeanor and behavior from rage to love, fear to comfort, is a fantastic manifestation of what makes them so different from us; and why we should remember not to treat them like people, but rather respect and embrace the primal instinct that lives inside each one of them; big or small in size, they are all wired the same.
so while i love this photo, i know it means something much more than just a cute image, and something i cannot fully understand, and therein lies the gift they bring to our lives if we let them; always mysterious; domesticated but wild. i love the duality of it.
some great photos of the big guy
have not written in a while. i was doing the usual 4 mile morning walk with spencer today, and all these random memories from my life started popping into my head. my dad once said to me that life is alot of the same with a few great moments sprinkled in; best to enjoy the regularity or else you’re simply left waiting for the highlights. anyway, here are a few highlights in no particular order:
- the day i met what would become my first client back when i was a sports agent. little did i know then how she would change my life and career. special person
- paying off my businesss school loans with one check, man that felt good. i wanted to frame the letter from sallie mae telling me i did not owe them anymore money, but i never did
- 2003, snapple commits $40 million to the NYC public schools to fund sports and phys ed programs. it was the culmination of an idea i had 4 years prior. it started as a concept and opportunity. to see it come to fruition was just amazing. to make a difference in all those kids lives…awesome
- 50 yard line of the great neck high school football field, about 8pm one summer night. it was her first time. we were so young…
- that first meal at the end of ‘hell weekend.’ as it turned out i was not much of a fraternity brother, but who knew eggs could taste so good.
- the first time i got on my motorcycle… ‘i know it’s big dave but just get on it and go for a ride…if it’s too much bike for you, you can always sell it.’ i’m not sellin it
- that first conversation with my dog trainer when i was deciding whether to adopt the then maniacal spencer… ‘dave, we’re not going to take away spencer’s personality, we’re going to build his character.’ wow, i’m in
- the day the women won the 1999 women’s world cup. USA v. China, 90,000 at the Rose Bowl. I had 9 of the players as clients. i could not empty my voicemail fast enough for about 6 months. life was good. 2 years later nike named its largest building after Mia, standing there thinking ‘this is the twilight zone.’
- playing 2 on 2 with MJ, Mia, and MJ’s son on the set of a Gatorade commercial. Being trash talked by Jordan…priceless. hitting the winning shot right before the director called them back to the shoot, memorable to say the least.
- along those same lines, introducing Jordan to my father at the Super Bowl, seeing the look on his face, never seen him speechless before, nor since
- keeping the dad theme going, losing a thousand dollar bet to him when i challenged him to swim 80 lengths in our pool non stop and he did it. who knew losing all that money to your father would be such a great and lasting memory
- ok this is a random one…sophmore year of high school, in my mom’s buick with 3 of my friends, cranking van halen as loud as the stereo would allow, stoned and laughing so hard at god knows what that there was no sound just 4 mouths open, tears running down our faces. i think we were on our way to ron’s house to play ping pong in his basement. so long island…
- the day i realized i could actually play basketball, and play it well. and while i never fufilled my potential as an athlete due to lack of dedication and training, i loved and still love the game
- being in summer camp the year all i had to do was be a waiter. just old enough to have a girlfriend, plenty of alchohol and marijuana, and oh those long afternoon naps. i’d put quadrophenia into my walkman and sleep, how could i sleep to the Who? i think if you listen to that album you’ll understand
- Thanksgivings in the country were always fun. but dad sold the farm so…
- playing cowboys and indians with my friend leon in boulder. those years in boulder were all good
- watching the knicks with my dad and steve, jackson hole burgers and onion rings
- my keynote speech at NYU on sports marketing. 500 people in a room. David Stern was the speaker the year before. what were they thinking?!
- The first time i heard Jeff Lorber Fusion, in the back of the cadillac on the way up to the country with my sisters
- when i got my new business cards and it said ‘executive vice president, octagon worldwide.’ did not last long but it felt like i had made it somehow.
- deciding to leave the stinky city for a full time life in the hamptons. i remember the day, i was looking to rent a place out here for the summer and stumbled across the condo where i live now, thinking ‘you know what, i could actually LIVE here.’ and i do..
weighs about 450lbs, of german descent, powerful but quiet. it’s hard to articulate how i feel when i’m on the bike. it’s my first motorcycle. i did my homework, took the lessons, bought the right gear, even got a GPS for the back roads. but in the end, it’s about the experience, the freedom, and the odd sense of peace. i always scoffed at the notion there is something zen about being on a motorcycle, until i bought one. after the first 1,000 miles or so, it all started to happen….
the roads out here are curvy and challenging, and for the most part empty in the off season. when i put on the helmet and fit the key into the ignition, i know i’m in for a few hours of exploration, both physical and emotional. as i back it out of the garage, both hands on the grips, my mind clears, my body calms, and the breath becomes steady and slow; in and out of the nose. when i turn out onto the first road, it all just comes together. and that first sharp turn shoots adrenaline and calm through my body in an instant.
the destinations out here are limitless; shelter island, the north fork, montauk, or there is always the option of heading west towards the city. long beach, rockaways, manhattan and beyond; the southern state has become a recent favorite. the engine hums, precise and with purpose. the bike wants to be ridden hard but there is always the reminder that it is more bike than i am rider, so there is a need for control and patience. unlike a video game, there is only one life to be valued and no restart button.
my posture is upright, it’s no ‘crotch rocket,’ but neither is it a cruiser in the traditional sense. my thighs hug the gas tank, feet positioned slightly behind my knees. it’s almost like the top part of a capital Z. the other day i felt like a jockey on a horse; an odd sensation for a man who is 6′3″.
this time of year it’s cold, so the right gear is essential; lined jeans tucked into warm boots, a face mask under a full face helmet, gloves and a neck warmer. and of course the jacket; black, leather, fitted and snug. sunglasses or a tinted shield complete the package. i have my favorite roads; deerfield, northwest path, swamp road, watermill town road, three mile harbor, the back roads on the north fork, wainscott northwest road into daniels hole road, etc.
i like the windy roads. when i see the sign up ahead that indicates a sharp turn and a reduced speed limit mph i know it’s time for the bike to really shine. i downshift, see through the turn, plan my angle, and begin the turn; a hard acceleration simultaneously accompanied by a hard ‘push down’ on the grip that is appropriate for the turn direction. as the bike begins to counter steer, my body instinctively leans in the direction of the turn. the faster i’m going, the more extreme the lean of both body and motorcycle, always keeping my eyes focused on the destination. this is when the bike is at it’s best, the tires gripping the road aided by the acceleration and my body leaning to help achieve the physics necessary to make a sharp turn at higher speeds. nothing like it..
then there are those days when the sun is shining and the roads that border the beach are calling me and it’s just spectacular; to see it all unfold is special. i remember when i used to play alot of basketball one of the things i loved about it the most was when i was on the court, nothing else mattered, i thought only about the game, my teammates, and winning. the bike gives me that singular purpose for those few hours.