Full Disclosure: I didn’t finish reading Esquire’s cover story about actor Jon Bernthal. I mean, it sure seems like he’s a complicated fellow. His own brother referred to him as the “family fuckup.” His role as Frank Castle in Netflix’s The Punisher series sounds like it was a natural fit for a man with a violent streak and a scrappy past. A dude who owns a gun but believes there needs to be a dialogue about gun control. A guy who is leery about playing a character who is an inspiration for alt-righters, saying “Fuck them” when asked about the Punisher symbol being seen on protesters at the white-supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I got all of that from skimming the article, and to be honest it’s a minor miracle I managed to do that much. For a good five minutes my brain was jammed reading this portion from the opening paragraphs over and over and over again, mentally stuttering at the last sentence:
The previous week, he was with Bam Bam at a dog park in the Playa Vista neighborhood in L. A. when he saw another pit bull attacking a pug. The hipster dog owners in attendance recoiled and did nothing. Bernthal started shouting.
“Put your hand up its ass! Put your hand up its ass!”
This frightened the hipsters, perhaps because this particular pacification method has been discredited by enlightened dog experts. Bernthal sighed and strode across the park. In another time in his life, he would have gone straight for the pit’s fangs, attempting to uncouple the dog’s jaws by force, a move that might have cost him a digit.
But that was then. Now, instead, he approached the pit bull from the rear and put his thumb up its ass. The pit bull whimpered and wandered away.
“It always works,” Bernthal told me, before adding with a crooked smile, “Well, one time it didn’t work.” But that story—which involved going fist-deep into a hundred-pound pit named Coltrane—would have to wait.
First off: YES OF COURSE I skimmed the rest of the article specifically to see if he ever does tell the story of Coltrane, and he fucking doesn’t. So, uh, spoiler alert. And secondly: why didn’t I know that fisting dog butts is a way to end a dog fight?! I mean, I never saw that move on The Dog Whisperer but it makes sense. If I was in a fight, and someone did that to MY butt, I’d stop too — out of sheer fucking astonishment.
But seriously, is that a thing? Thumb-butting? Is there a PETA campaign against it yet?
So I looked it up, and apparently Bernthal isn’t the only brave soul with a steady finger ready to save angry dogs from their own impulses. There was Ann Bendouli, who put her finger up a dog’s ass to save her Jack Russell — and ended up causing #superstarfinger to trend globally. And it doesn’t only work on dogs: Hulk Hogan claims André The Giant did the same thing to him in the ring one time (though when wrestlers do it, it’s called “checking the oil”).
It should be noted that there are other recommended ways to break up a dog fight that DON’T involve digital rectal insertions. “The Wheelbarrow” is a common maneuver I read about in several places — but I dunno if it works on wrestlers.
Anyway, that’s really all I have to say about this topic. I just wanted to share it with you all. Go ahead and check out that cover story (the pictures are fantastic) and see if you make it farther than I did.