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Connections: Good Dogs

Wed, 12/04/2019 - 12:48

There was a time when I frequently traveled from East Hampton to New London, Conn., to visit my husband-to-be, who lived and worked then at Connecticut College. My companion in those days was Mookie, a huge, black, shaggy dog — adopted by my daughter from the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons — who not only had a charming personality but impeccable manners. As regular travelers on the Cross Sound Ferry, to and from New London, Mookie and I were befriended by the crew.

She was, we believed, part Irish wolfhound; she had a hound’s telltale scruffy coat, in a tuxedo pattern, but instead of being lean, she was barrel-chested. Mookie was a people dog: She enjoyed few things more than settling her 106-pound frame onto a friendly lap. Crew members came to recognize us, and would stop to give her a scratch when she rolled over to present her ample belly.

A round trip on the Cross Sound Ferry for Thanksgiving weekend this year made me think back on those days. Chris and I went to Massachusetts to spend the holiday with his relatives — his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. I couldn’t help thinking about Mookie again when we we played fetch with their dog, Tara, a midsize brindle mix.

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner, as I mentioned last week, was the special green sorrel sauce for Oysters Rattray. My son-in-law had, I believe, never opened fresh oysters before, and he had armed himself with a shellfish knife. For the turkey, the Corys followed the spatchcock method, which calls for removing the backbone so the bird can be placed just about flat on a cooking tray; this shortens the roasting time considerably. My daughter-in-law’s stuffing wasn’t stuffed, but a mix of grains with wild rice. It was turkey and stuffing for the stars!

But although Thanksgiving dinner was smashing, I have to admit that the treat I relished most came when we left the fine dining behind and sampled the simple pleasure of a grilled hot dog — with mustard and a lot of sauerkraut — in the canteen on the Cross Sound Ferry, during our return trip.

Mookie used to beg for the last bite of hot dog, back in the old days.

I think I love hot dogs because indulging in one always feels a bit naughty. I learned to love them illicitly as a child, at a stand that operated around the corner from the movie theater my friends and I were allowed to go to on weekend afternoons. My family kept kosher when I was a child, and these hot dogs certainly weren’t kosher, so we had to sneak. They came with ketchup (we called it “catsup”) and only a little sauerkraut. 

By Christmastime, we will return to more refined sauces. We have just enough sorrel sauce left for a dozen good Shinnecock oysters. Those, Mookie was never allowed to eat!

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