By Mitch Broder
Several hundred dogs emailed to say they were offended by the sight of the plastic dogs in front of three New York City restaurants owned by David Burke.
They found Burke’s whimsical dog ornaments to be insensitive and demeaning, not to mention inedible. Some of the writers also complained about their smartphones’ tiny keyboards.
“Sure, Burke, just perpetuate the stereotype of a mindless mongrel standing outside on a leash with his tail in the air,” wrote an angry border collie. “Yeah, we’re all just patiently waiting for our master to polish off his great big plate of Roasted Seawater Soaked Organic Chicken.”
“You know what I’d like to see?” demanded an irate affenpinscher. “I’d like to see a dog restaurant with a fake person standing outside.”
I will not call Burke on the real dogs’ behalf, since he’s already mad that his fake dogs get stolen. But regarding the sarcastic restaurant request, I think I can help.
Indignant dogs should drag their owners to 34th Street between Third and Lex, where they will find a café called Barking Dog. It is dog-friendly, though not friendly enough to actually let dogs in. But it has dog water pots near the outdoor tables. And it has a fake person standing outside.
The person is an artist, and the artist is a sculpture called “The Right Light.” The artist’s artist is J. Seward Johnson Jr.
Johnson is famous for his bronze statues of regular people. He is also an heir to Johnson and Johnson, which makes Listerine, which should have a dog version.
The sculpture belongs to the Affinia Dumont hotel next door. A staff member there told me that “people talk to it all the time.” Jenée Castellanos of The Sculpture Foundation told me that Johnson made it in 1983 and that it’s been at the hotel for about twenty-five years.
As for Barking Dog, it has several menu selections with “barking dog” in the name, as well as shepherd’s pie, though the menu spells it wrong.
Bitter dogs are free to mock the person-sculpture to their hearts’ content.
Any other means of expressing their hostility is not condoned here.
Catch “The Right Light” at Barking Dog, 150 East 34th Street, between Third and Lexington avenues, in Manhattan.