Grandpap, The Bulldogger

Damon Runyon

Washington Herald/November 19, 1922

WHO comes to visit me in New York last week but my Grandpap Mugg, all the way from Arkansaw Valley of Colorado, and all by himself. He did not bring my Grandmaw Mugg, because my Grandpap says women are a terrible nuisance to a man when he is traveling, and furthermore, he may wish to see certain matters which are not a woman’s business.

My Grandpap Mugg is a little old pappy guy, with a goatee, but very spry, and anybody who picks him up for a chump is certainly daffy. Well, I hardly know what to do to entertain my Grandpap Mugg, when I see that they are holding what they call a rodeo at Madison Square Garden. A rodeo is a sort of wild west show, with bronco busting, and roping, and riding steers, and so forth. I figure my Grandpap Mugg will be interested, because he is once a cowboy himself, and in the cattle business, but he does not seem to get much kick out of the show, until the steer wrestling comes off.

In this steer wrestling, a cowboy rides alongside s running steer until he finally gets a chance to hop on the steer’s back. Then he grabs the steer by the horns and tries to throw him. Generally he does it, because a cowboy who cannot throw a steer is regarded as a bum cowboy. My Grandpap Mugg cheers up no little when this steer-wrestling business comes off, but I can see he does not think much of the lads who. are doing the wrestling.

“They are just fair,” my Grandpap Mugg says. “Just fair. They are nowhere near as good as the boys back in my day when we call this proposition bulldogging instead of wrestling.

“In those days,” my Grandpap Mugg says, “when a man grabs the steer by the horns he also grabs the steer by the nose with his teeth. It takes a man with a good Strong pair of teeth to throw a steer in those days.

“Maybe you don’t know it,” my Grandpap Mugg says, “but I am the best bulldogger in the Arkansaw Valley in my time. I win more bulldogging contests than anybody, and the chances are I will still be winning them if it is not for a small kid sitting on a fence one day watching me.

“’I have an angle on this proposition,” my Grandpap says. “I figure out a way to beat a steer is pretty slick, no matter what anybody says. What I have is a sponge tied to a string which I keep up my sleeve, and when I am going into a bulldogging contest I load this sponge up pretty good with ether.

“The reason I use this sponge full of ether is because my teeth are not as stout as they used to be, and neither are my arms, and I need a little help. It is a perfectly legitimate proposition, because I never see anything in the bulldogging rules against using a sponge full of ether.

“When I drop off my horse on top of the steer I just naturally reach around and grab, him by the nose, and the next thing old Mister Steer knew he had a snoot full of ether, and he keels right over. I never see any steer yet that can stand a good shot of ether, because it is the same kind of ether they use in booze nowadays to give it a kick.

“Well, I am such a fast worker that the judges never see what I am doing to the steer, because the way I look at it, what is the use of telling your business to everybody. I go through these bulldoging tournaments all over the West like a streak of lightning, besting all records, and everybody says I am a wonder, which, of course, I am.

“One day there is a tournament in a fair grounds in a town down the valley, and there is a kid sitting on the fence taking a look at things. I pay no attention to this kid, but he certainly causes me plenty of trouble. There are a dozen fellers in the tournament, and I am on last with steer, and naturally 1 beat everybody’s time the way I threw him what with giving the steer an extra dose of ether.

“Well, they are just about to hand me the prize, which is fifty bucks, when the kid comes running up, and says, innocent enough, ‘Say, that feller that pulla the sponge out of their noses is a great feller, all right.’

“Well, this crack causes somebody to ask questions, and the next thing I know they are searching me, and finding my sponge which still had so much ether in it that two judges are knocked out. I try to explain that there is nothing in the rules against the ether, but they will not listen to me.

“So I do not get the prize, and I am so disgusted that I never again go in for bulldogging steers, or anything else.”

(Source: Chronicling America,