New ‘it dog’ Crash is making a splash in the Village


By Elizabeth O’Brien

At just five months, he made the pages of Newsweek. A flurry of activity ensued, including an appearance in an N.Y.U. independent film. But Crash, a rare Norwegian breed currently making his home in the Village, has not let the attention go to his head.

Now 1 year old, the blond herder dog draws strangers — canine and human alike — into his circle quickly.

“He thinks it’s his job to keep everybody together,” said Melanie Moore, one of his two caretakers.

Since Moore, 31, and her partner adopted Crash last year from a Michigan breeder, the two women are routinely stopped on the streets by passersby eager to identify their Norwegian buhund.

Last summer, one such passerby happened to be an editor at Newsweek magazine. Seeking subjects for an upcoming article, the editor immediately recognized Crash’s poster-boy potential.

Thus, Moore, her partner, Jennifer Abbondanza, and Mister Crash, as their pooch is formally known, were featured in a June article on the healing powers of dogs. The article didn’t focus on Crash’s rare pedigree, and soon after its publication members of an online community of buhund owners contacted Moore and Abbondanza to make sure the two young women knew exactly what they had gotten their hands on.

They knew. There are only about 400 buhunds in the U.S., according to Janet Barringer, of the Norwegian Buhund Club of America, based in Illinois. Other than Moore’s household, two other buhund owners from New York City have registered their dogs with the club, said Bob Barringer, Janet’s husband.

Crash may be the only buhund in the Village, but he’s not the neighborhood’s only media hound.

Chelsea, a Shih Tzu of a certain age, also lives in the area with her caretaker, Gayle Kirschenbaum. A Westbeth filmmaker, Kirschenbaum made a “dogamentary” about Chelsea, who has made recent appearances on the C.B.S. “Early Show” and Howard Stern.

Kirschenbaum said that Chelsea did not feel threatened by the new kid in town.

“There’s plenty of room at the top,” Kirschenbaum said.

As for Crash, he’s sweet on the ladies but has developed some alpha male tendencies around the same sex, Moore said. She was asked not to neuter him right away, to preserve the option of breeding, and thus he has an emerging aggression toward male dogs.

This could be seen on a recent morning, when Crash began barking at two caped greyhounds that slunk past on the edge of the sidewalk.

“You don’t look so ferocious with your boots on,” teased Moore, a deejay who has worked at local bars and clubs such as Sullivan Room and Opaline.

Moore said that she got the booties to protect Crash’s paws from the irritations of the rock salt the city puts down to melt snow and ice. Dog owners say that this winter has been a particularly bad one for rock salt.

While Moore bought the booties before the electrocution last month of Jodie Lane, an East Village woman who died after walking her two dogs on an electrified Con Ed cover, some dog owners have bought booties in response to the Jan. 16 tragedy.

“There’s a run on dog booties in the East Village,” said Carol Vinzant, an East Villager who bought booties for her 10-year-old Shepard mix, Jolly.

Meanwhile, the city has no plans to stop using rock salt.

“Rock salt has proven to be effective, inexpensive, and plentiful,” said Kathy Dawkins, a spokesperson for the city Department of Sanitation. Sand, though less irritating, does not melt ice like rock salt, she added.

Unlike many dogs, Crash does not balk at putting on the booties. The Norwegian knockout takes it all in stride.

“We were so lucky to discover him,” Moore said.