Dogs will come and go, but Norman is forever. From abandoned orphan to genius recluse to leader of the pack, Norman has swiftly moved through the ranks at Horny Toad to emerge as our unquestionable Top Dog. Like great leaders before him, Norman speaks softly and carries a big chew toy. His stature is small, but his wits are mighty. He’s been described as the canine Napoleon Bonaparte: A creature so incendiary, his persona escapes the common boundaries of hero and villain. His presence is ubiquitous without being overwhelming, his affections sincere without being pervasive. He is pensive and elusive, with kind eyes that, at times, betray his stately façade. We sat down with Norman for an exclusive interview to find out more about his journey to the top.
How long have you been at Horny Toad? I came to Toad in the fall of ‘08. It was an interesting time. The Reign of the Big Dog was going strong. There was Jack the Bernese mountain dog, Benji the sheepdog, Pearl, Bella, and Jade – the Fates of the Labrador world – and then there was Sage, a shepherd/wolf mix of all things big. But it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. I watched as the big dogs, encumbered by their large paws and small minds, fell from power. From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow. And grow I did.
Well it sounds like you’ve really come into your own at Horny Toad. What’s your role here? My role has changed over the years. Currently I’m First in Command of the Super-Nose Inventory Faction, or SNIF. As First in Command, I patrol the office floor. Any tile, any crack, any tangled piece of ripped carpet – I’m aware of it. Nothing escapes me. My grandmother always said, “Good scents will take you far, ” and it certainly has.
Wow. That seems like a lot of responsibility for one dog. It’s not responsibility if it’s destiny. The best leaders are the ones with enough sense and responsibility to pick good recruits to get the job done, and enough self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. I’m not one to bark orders, so given my resources I’ve assembled an obedient SNIF team: Lucy takes care of inventorying the daily mail deliveries, while Leo patrols the kitchen and communal dining areas. Nothing comes in or out of the office without my SNIF being involved. Make no mistake, the Reign of the Little Dog thrives, but what is success without expansion?
So what is the best part of your job? I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion, but the power lies in knowing when to be one or the other. Even after six years, I enjoy the pursuit of power. The consistency is very meditative, and I must say, being the chief has its perks. Every morning I pee in the same five spots, and every afternoon I nap in the windowsill of my choosing. But anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm, so I relish the daily variety that comes with an office full of humans and their lunches.
How would you describe your personal style? I like refined. Black, white, and if I must, red. Less is more (unless snacks are involved).
Favorite book? Anything by Dostoevsky, and Art of War.
Favorite Vacation Spot? Where sprawling gardens, top-quality service, and fluffy Pomeranians with bows abound. So probably Switzerland.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Chateaubriand Tar-Tar.
Favorite drink? A large cup of black tea. But I’ll entertain the idea of a Friday night Manhattan.
Favorite hobbies? Long hikes, manipulation, belly scratches, ignoring the common folk, and peeing on things to claim them as my own.
Do you have any advice for dogs just starting out in the biz? Be thoughtful in your actions and think before you speak. Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide. Too often have I seen young pups let eagerness degrade into brash, poor decisions. It works temporarily, but ultimately just leaves them begging for more. So be patient, be shrewd, and above all, do not wake me if I’m napping.