Touring With Big Mac

March 4, 2013  

A large pit bull mix hits the road with his Broadway family


By Brad Broman
This article was originally published on May 1, 2012

In August of 2010, we moved into a much larger apartment in Harlem, and we knew we’d finally have room for a dog. So, we set about looking for a new member of the family. Trinity wanted a manly dog with a high energy and activity level, but also wanted to cuddle, and I wanted one large enough to ride around the house like a pony. The first and only dog Trinity found was at Bideawee on Manhattan’s East Side, and he knew Big Mac was going to be the one: manly and energetic, and the size of a small truck.

Trinity’s announcement that he had found an 80-pound, black and white pit bull/American Bulldog mix came as both a shock and a reality check. This dog was a monster with a heart of gold and a face that literally brings all the boys to the yard.

With my hectic work schedule, it took two weeks for me to be able to get to Bideawee to meet Mac, and when I finally did I was instantly in love. I could see the look in his eyes that said, “I’ve been here for six months, please get me out of here; please finally be the one to give me a shot,” and, “Are you going to throw that ball or not?”

With the move and the old apartment not allowing pets, we had to bribe a lovely lady at Bideawee to hold him for us for just a bit more until we could bring him home. Trinity visited every day and played with Mac, and he made mention of how, as he left, covered in drool and bits of the toys Mac chewed … or rather, destroyed, Big Mac seemed distraught and unhappy. Of course, you want to believe that when you say, “I’ll see you tomorrow; we’ll get you out of here soon,” that he knew what you meant, but the cage and the cement floor, and the 16 Chihuahuas in the kennel next door were the current reality, and he hated it.

Finally, we were thrilled to bring Mac home and introduce him to our roommates and our friends. No one hid the fact that they thought a giant pit bull was maybe not the best New York apartment dog, but three minutes with him and they were in love, too.

A few short months later, I would say just as Mac settled into his new life, Trinity was called to be the Production Stage Manager of the 25th Anniversary National Tour of “Les Miserables”: an incredible opportunity, an incredible job, incredible people to work with and incredible upheaval. After much discussion, we determined the best choice, if not only choice, was to pack up and travel with the show.

Of course, traveling with a huge pit bull threw quite the wrench into the touring life Trinity and I had known before. We were going to have to drive the tour, as he obviously doesn’t fit under the seat in front of us, and that meant buying a car. Buying our car, or rather, Big Mac’s car, since he claimed the entirety of the back seat (and, on occasion, the front seat if he felt like it … and who’s to argue?) turned out to be the least difficult part of the process. Explaining to a hotel in the middle of Ohio that you’ve got a dog tall enough on his hind legs to sign for the room at the front desk is another story.

The staff of nearly every hotel heard “pit bull” and immediately thought of a vicious fighting dog ready to tear the housekeeping staff limb from limb should they enter our room, and the housekeeping staff heard “pit bull” and would leave towels and sheets outside of our door for us to change ourselves.

And then, the staff of nearly every hotel and the housekeepers met Big Mac, and they changed their tune. They realized that rather than hurt anyone, it was Mac who was constantly getting hurt from playing too hard or tripping over his own big, silly paws trying to get the ball from under the bed, or the desk, or behind the toilet, or in the garbage can, or in my suitcase, or any number of other places he managed to bounce it. It was Mac that would put himself between small female housekeepers and larger men passing them to be sure that the woman was protected. It was Mac that had no intention of attacking anything other than his pull toy, and just wanted a belly scratch and to give some kisses.

We had the occasional run-in with management, and when you speak negatively about my dog, you speak negatively about me, and I will read you the riot act to tell you everything you need to know about Big Mac, the history of pit bulls as babysitters and use my two favorite lines: “Sir, if there’s anyone you should be worried about causing trouble in your hotel, it’s me, not the dog,” and, “Ma’am, if it’s all about how you raise them, you’ll find that Big Mac probably has better manners than your children.”

Big Mac would, as he always does, eventually win everyone over, and even the cat-lovers were soon Big Mac fans. He is as loyal and sweet and kind to every stranger he meets as he is to his dads, and welcomes everyone into his life with a wagging tail, big, loveable eyes, a side-cuddle and buckets of drool.

The prejudice we were met with, based mainly in the press surrounding “pit bull attacks” and the like, allowed us to open the dialogue with people otherwise fearful of the breed. I was able to liken raising a dog of any breed to raising a child; they can be a gentleman or a hellion, and it is the parents that guide the way.

Big Mac is a shining example of how love and parenting go a very long way. Show your pet, and any dog you encounter, that they are loved and appreciated, and they will, as you would, show that love in return. I firmly believe that if everyone saw the world through Big Mac’s eyes there would be a lot more love … and a lot more tennis balls.

Bios: Brad Broman is the assistant company manager for the “Mary Poppins” national tour after a brief stint in the same role with “La Cage Aux Folles” (George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber). His time on the road as a performer includes the national and Japanese touring companies of “Hairspray,” as well as “High School Musical” (Zoni Award nominee), “Grease!” and “Footloose.” He is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Trinity Wheeler has worked extensively in the theater industry for more than 12 years as a director, stage manager, company manager, associate producer and actor. His credits include the national tours of “Les Misérables,” “Mary Poppins,” “Rent” (Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp), Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein The Musical” (Roger Bart), “Oklahoma!,” “The Wedding Singer,” “The Producers,” “Titanic – The Musical,”” The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Crazy for You” and “West Side Story.”

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Comments

7 Responses to “Touring With Big Mac
  1. Love it, love it, love it!!!

  2. jennmartinelli says:

    I love everything about this story. It in fact makes me immensely jealous of you. I can’t really imagine much that would be more fun than touring the country with a theater production with my giant wonderful dog!

  3. Kevin Clapp says:

    Love me some Big Mac – as long as it isn’t from McDonalds ;-p Thank you both for not only giving him a happy home, but for all of the life-changes & sacrifices you have made for him as well! My latest rescue and ‘foster-fail’ is Nicodemus, a now happy and healthy 8-month old Pit Bull, who was literally THROWN AWAY when he was 4 months old. His love, loyalty, and antics are a constant delight to me. I, Nicky, and the rest of the Pack send our love. Hope you & Big Mac continue to break a leg on the tour circuit!

  4. TheresaDufore says:

    Awwwe, LOVE your story!!  We don’t travel as extensively as y’all do obviously, but I drive to my boyfriend’s house in Orlando every weekend from Palmetto which is only a 2 hour drive but I take my boys Bear (another 90 pound pittie) and Harley (a 7 pound chi) with me every time.  Couldn’t bear to leave them behind.  We wish you safe travels and thank you both for rescuing Big Mac and making believers of the fearful.  🙂

    • StubbyDog says:

      [email protected] Sounds like a perfect arrangement Theresa!

      • TheresaDufore says:

        [email protected] Almost perfect….. perfect will be when I actually get to MOVE to Orlando so I can be even closer!  🙂  And just wanted to say that Big Mac is a GORGEOUS boy!!  You all seem to have an amazing family together and my boys and I are very happy for all of you!  <3  Have an awesome week!

  5. apbtmom says:

    Curious…This link was sent to me (tonight) by Trinity, asking if our rescue could take Big Mac and find him a home. But it sounds like you’d planned on keeping him, from this article. I’m confused.