Taking time to save a life

Teak - Waiting for Mommy & DaddyA week ago Sunday I persuaded Sharon and Jake to go see Bee Movie. Well, to be honest, Jake didn’t really require much persuasion. Sharon on the other hand did. After our last children’s movie fiasco, Ratatouille, where within the first 10 minutes of the film the old woman tries to blast every rat in sight with a double barrel shot gun scared Jake terribly. I mean common now .. Rated “G”. Who’d Disney/Pixar pay off? Anyway, she wasn’t easily convinced that we should attempt another children’s movie that we haven’t seen first. Fortunately for me Bee Movie however was a completely different story. The movie was great and Jake loved it.After the movie, the mandatory bathroom visits and the re-bundling in preparation for the cold we left the theater and started walking down Broadway the three of us holding hands. Within a minute of leaving the theater a fairly large dog goes running past us with her long blue leash trailing behind her. I immediately expect to see a man or woman come running past me chasing after the dog. I wait for a few seconds but nothing. I look up the street. No one is running down the block after the dog. I turned back, look at Sharon and Jake and say to Sharon, “I need to go after that dog, can you watch Jake?”. She says “yes”. I then bent down to Jake and said, “Jake please stay with mommy, I’ll be right back” and I ran off down the street after the dog.I should say at this point that it has always been one of my greatest fears as a dog owner in NYC that my dog would get loose and hit by a car. I couldn’t just let the dog run down the street and get hurt. As I started to run after her I saw that had already crossed the street (against the light) and was continuing to run down Broadway. Everyone is watching her run but no one is trying to stop her. As I approached 67th Street I noticed that she was pausing as she approached the next corner. The light was red and cars were busy crossing the intersection. She turns back the way she came and immediately noticed that I was approaching her. She reacted quickly and ran past me. In doing so however her leash got caught around one of the scaffolding poles. Before she was able to break free I caught up to her. Once I grabbed the leash she immediately stopped trying to run and layed down on the sidewalk. Actually, she began to cower and tried to crawl into the Barnes & Noble service door alcove. She is obviously very scared. Several people ask me if that is my dog and I tell them no, I just tried to catch her so her owner could catch up. I begin looking up the block but still no one is running down the street looking like they are looking for someone or something.I slowly bent down to the dog. She has beautiful long brown fur with a black nose. Her face looks like that of a Chow but definitely a mixed breed. She was very scared but let me reach around to her collar. Around her choke chain there was a small brass ID tag with a cell phone number imprinted upon it. There is no name. I look up to see Sharon and Jake running down the street. I call over to them. Jake is very excited to see the dog and immediately wants to pet her. It takes a lot of effort to keep him a safe distance away while trying to get the dog to relax. After all, I don’t yet know if she’s the type of dog who does not like children. Sharon and I continue to look in both directions expecting someone to come over and claim the dog. After a few minutes I suggest that we begin walking back the way the dog came in hopes of finding the owner.HoneyBear, a name we have given her as we walk up the street was exceedingly reluctant to walk with us. She had diarreahea on the back of her fur and was not at all happy with the idea of going anywhere with me .. or anyone for that matter. What I noticed however, was that while she was scared, she wasn’t angry. We would walk 10 feet or so and she would try to lay down against the side of the building or next to a car. The second I would say, “let’s go girl”, she would immediately get up and start to walk for another 10 feet. We repeated this pattern for two whole blocks. After about 10 minutes. It was obvious that no one was looking for their lost dog. I called the number on her tag and left a message assuring the owner that I had his dog, she was OK and that he should call me so we can arrange getting her back to him. The only thing left to do was wait.The only problem was that it was cold (as it often gets in November in NYC) and I didn’t want to hang out on a street corner in the hopes this guy was going to call back quickly. So I suggested that we bring her back to our apartment and wait there. Sharon was quick to point out however that HoneyBear looked an awful lot like a dog named Bear who lived in our building. A dog that Chestnut, our dog, absolutely hated. Actually, hated isn’t quite accurate. He absolutely positively despises Bear. Along with about 10 other dogs in our building. We have no clue why. We can be walking together enjoying the day and from a block away smell that Bear is nearby .. and he goes absolutely nuts. For no reason. One minute calm the next devil’s gate crazy. That said, bringing this dog back to our apt would present .. challenges. I explained to Sharon that we had the dog, we’ve left a message for the owner and that we were going to bring her home and wait. Chestnut would be in one room, HoneyBear in the other.So we walked home. In 10 to 20 foot increments. As we got closer to our building HoneyBear shows signs of warming upto me. I can tell because she starts to walk in longer stretches before stopping. Each time she stops however she immediately starts again when I asked her to continue. We got as far as across the street from our building when we stop to catch our breath. As we wait a gentlemen with a huge Rottweiler walks over and asks, “is that the same dog that has been running all over the Upper West Side?” We say yes and he begins to explain that he saw the dog running on Columbus Avenue about 90 minutes ago. As we are chatting, Bernadette Peters walks over and begins asking questions about the dog as well. Sharon and Bernadette have met before at Broadway Barks, an Animal Shelter charity Bernadette supports. Sharon is a volunteer for the ASPCA and their paths occasionally pass. Especially when you live across the street from one another. We explain that we left a message for the owner but we don’t know where they live or the dog’s name. Bernadette immediately suggests that we bring her over to a vet and have her wanded to see if she has an ID chip. We call our vet, Dr. Andrew Kaplan (amazing vet BTW) to see if his office can take us. They are about to close but agree to wait until we get there.At the Vet’s office they immediately check her and we discover she has no embedded ID chip. I call and leave a second message for her owner and begin the process of walking home. At this point HoneyBear walks 1/2 the block with me without stopping. When I finally get her upstairs to our apt, Sharon puts Chestnut in our bedroom and HoneyBear goes into our Family room. Fireworks averted. Once inside she crawls into the bathroom in the family room and lays down. We bring her water and food but she refuses to eat. I turned on some soft music and we all leave her alone.By 8pm I decide to take HoneyBear out for a walk so she can go to the bathroom. She walks to Riverside Park with me but is still extremely nervous. After she does her thing we begin walking back. As I am approaching our building’s entrance on West End Avenue, a woman comes running up to me shouting, “did you find that dog?” I say yes and explain how I caught her and am waiting for her owners to call me back. She opens her purse and pulls out a flyer for a lost dog. On the flyer is a picture of HoneyBear, who is actually named “Teak” according to the flyer. The flyer has a picture of Teak with two young girls, one who is about Jake’s age. I check the flyer and it has the same phone number I have been calling. The woman (who’s name I can’t recall right now) explained to me that she is a dog walker and she just ran into the family 10 minutes before. They asked her if she would post flyers as she walked uptown. She left them and almost immediately ran into me with Teak. I thanked her and immediately went upstairs to tell Sharon the news. When I got upstairs she called the number again and this time someone picked up. He explained that while they were out his cell phone went dead and that they would be right over.It was amazing watching Teak’s transformation when her owners arrived with their little girl. The dog who cowered in our bathroom all evening long became a completely different dog. She ran around and jumped all over her mommy (who is pregnant), her daddy and their daughter. After a few minutes she calmed down and immediately ate and drank the food and water we served to her 2 hours before.They explained that she never eats if they go out or if someone else watches her. She sits and waits for them to return before she will relax and eat. They also explained how they never go away and how they asked a neighbor to watch her for them. Unfortuantely the neighbor took Teak out with her and her own dog and some how Teak got loose and took off. They were very greatful we rescued her. After a 1/2 hour we said our goodbyes and Teak went home.The next day they returned with a home made Thank You card (which proudly now hangs on the wall in my office) and a basket of home made muffins. They also made a donation to the ASPCA in our names.I was very touched and grateful that for once, I reacted fast enough to make a difference.