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Fear Factor: Canine Edition – Puppy Love (2012 FRIGID NEW YORK FESTIVAL)

by Katelyn Manfre on March 3, 2012

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John Grady loves the show “Fear Factor.” He has his theories and his predictions about how the insane game show will play out, and is especially drawn to the “Couples Edition,” where young die-hards compete, and, predictably lose, to the old married pair with many anniversaries to their name. Despite his intrigue and obsession with these thrill-seeking duos, Grady has only had one serious relationship in his life: with Abby, his Bernese mountain dog.

In Fear Factor: Canine Edition (running at The Kraine Theater), Grady tells the hilarious and heartbreaking story of his life with Abby, and some of the moments that bonded them forever. Intercut with an account of Abby’s last days before she had to be put down at the age of 13, Grady’s stories are beautiful and impassioned, but told simply, with ease and humor.

Highlights include: an experiment with “Doga” (dog yoga), that lead to them subsequently being filmed for Animal Planet, Abby’s time as a therapy dog in a Chicago hospital, and many a romp in the Tomkins Square Park dog run. I dare you to not fall in love with this creature by the end of Grady’s account.

What Grady gets at is the beauty at the core of any relationship, the synergy between two souls–human, canine, or anything in between–and how important it is to any life. What he may have lacked with women, Grady made up for tenfold with Abby; a need, a mutual dependence, a deep-rooted love. This bond helped them make it to the end of Abby’s life, and helped Grady come to terms with losing her.

Grady finally muses that his life with Abby was a series of “Fear Factor” challenges, peppered by a few actual running and rushing and barely-making-it-out-alive moments. It’s here that we see his original theory: the young, brash couples on the TV show never make it past the first few rounds. They are foolhardy and not adapted to one another just yet. But the reason the older couples–soft-spoken and fully trusting of one another–always win, is that they have already begun to run the gauntlet of life together, and they get what it takes to make it as a pair. John Grady and Abby had the same mentality, which is why, even in the final moments of Abby’s life; it was love and care, not fear that was truly the factor.


Fear Factor: Canine Edition
Written by: John Grady
Hangover: Mon 3/5 @ 8:30pm


FRIGID Hangovers will run March 5-10 at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery). Tickets ($18-$20) may be purchased online at or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444.


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