Photo by Claire Flack
A laid-back “chilled” Butter scopes the scene at Tompkins.
BY HEATHER DUBIN | Butter isn’t exactly what comes to mind at first glance. But the little girl who named the English Mastiff puppy three years ago had no concept of the imposing presence Butter would have today at 145 pounds.
Described as sweet by George Smol, his owner, Butter sometimes hits the Tompkins Square Park dog run in the mornings. They don’t usually go in when it’s crowded.
“If he’s cornered over a ball, he’ll chase out the other dog,” said Smol, who lives in the East Village.
While Butter is friendly and happy, his sheer size and power create the potential for an accident.
“If one [of his breed] was to bite you, it could break your arm,” noted Smol.
Butter is not neutered, which is also why Smol, a retired photographer, doesn’t take him into the dog run very much.
“The most dangerous time in here is the weekend when people from out of town bring in their monster pit bulls,” he explained. “I don’t take any chances with him.”
Butter’s life has recently taken a turn. His mother, a onetime show dog who was bred by Smol, died last Tuesday from bloat and gastric torsion at 7½, and Chico, Butter’s brother, passed away two months ago from an infection around his lungs. Along with Butter and his sister Autumn, a brindle-coat Mastiff, they all lived with Smol in his apartment — which apparently is not a studio. However, he took them out for walks individually.
“They are too strong to walk them together — it’d be irresponsible,” he said.
Butter seems to have taken his recent family losses in stride.
“He was sniffing around for them at first, but I don’t think he really minds,” Smol said. “He’s now the number one.”
Smol has a country house in northeastern Pennsylvania where the dogs have more space to roam and are more active. In the city, they take it a bit more easy.
If he let Butter or Autumn off-leash in Tompkins Square, “they’d find a nice spot to sleep under a tree,” he said. Despite their seemingly mellow disposition, the ancient breed’s history, which goes back 2,000 years, is as perimeter watchdogs.
Butter chows down once a day, but as Smol extended his hands to illustrate, the portion is as massive as one might expect for a Mastiff.
“As big as four regular bowls,” he said.
Butter is a park fixture. Owing to his size, you just can’t miss him.
During this interview many people in the park called out, “Hello, Butter!” and “Hi, Butter!” to the docile dog as they walked by.
“I’m really proud of the dog and I never get tired of talking about him,” beamed Smol.