Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Rat Hunters of New York

Merlin attacks a rat near Broome Street.The rat hunters of New York
by Melissa Cronin: On a chilly Friday night in early spring, four men and three women meet in a dimly-lit alley next to Manhattan’s City Hall Park. They are dressed against the unseasonable thirty-degree chill, in puffy jackets and protective working gloves with worn-down fingertips. With them are four small dogs on nylon leashes.
Richard Reynolds, a bald, husky business analyst from New Jersey, stands at their center, a head taller than anybody else, in an outfit made up of varying shades of khaki. In one hand he grips the wooden head of a long black cane, in the other a thin nylon leash, at the end of which is a ruddy brown dog named Dudley, a squat, short-legged Norfolk terrier with baleful brown eyes.
Reynolds surveys the scene—the dogs and their owners huddled in small groups along with Reynolds’s cameraman, Jeff Formosa, who would upload the night’s footage onto YouTube. Reynolds tapped his cane on the ground.
“Alright then,” he says. “I guess this is it. Let’s go.”
Quietly, the group steers their dogs across Chambers Street west of the park, Reynolds leading the way. Susan Friedenberg, a dog breeder from Staten Island, brings up the rear with her spotted auburn cairn terrier named Tanner. Reynolds stops at the opening to a cobblestoned side street while the others bring their dogs around to the back entrance of Theatre Alley, which George Washington once used as a private entrance to the Park Theatre.
Staring at a bulging garbage bag resting against a pole in the scaffolding, Reynolds raises his cane just an inch above the ground. Then, with a booming “HO!” he releases Dudley. The terrier shoots into the alley towards a massive pile of garbage bags against a wall. Reynolds waves a hand out to signal Friedenberg, and in the next moment Tanner is streaking down the path too, gaining on Dudley with every step. They jump on top of the mountain of trash, clawing at the bags as their owners run after them...Continue reading...

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