Wednesday, August 13, 2008


So, just five hours after Jean dropped off her beloved dog, Max, a Chow-Lab mix, Max disappears! When I had Noodles and Romer I always kept my back door to the deck open.
It overlooks the first floor lawn below, which belongs to the garden level tenants.
There's a barricade blocking the steps to the lawn. Didn't matter.

I went out for just two hours and when I returned, Max was gone. I searched my entire apartment and then realized I kept the back door open. But, up until now, none of my dogs had ever attempted to venture down the steep metal stairs to the lawn below. Max did.

Frantic, I grabbed a flashlight and walked down the steps and looked through the thick brush of the overgrown backyard. Nothing. I shined my flashlight over fences and peered in yards. Nothing.

I even walked all the way to Jean's house, some 20 blocks away, figuring, dogs would instinctively return to their homes, like Lassie did so many times. Nothing.

In the morning, I called New York City Animal Care and Control, the official agency responsible for picking up lost dogs and unfortunately, euthanizing them after a certain number of days or weeks.

I couldn't imagine telling Jean, that Max had run away. I couldn't imagine what she would tell her two kids, ages 9 and 14. They loved Max. He has a great demeanor and temperament.

Shortly after noon the next day, my doorbell rings. It's a neighbor I recognized from a block or so away. I didn't know her name, but exhausted, she said: "I'm really sorry to bother you, but do you know anyone who lost a dog." Immediately, I said yes. Me! I described the dog, right down to the bandanna that Jean had tied around Max's neck. She summoned me to her home, just around the corner and told me a dog, fitting Max's description, was laying under a tree in her backyard since last night.

Get this, in addition to posting flier's all over the neighborhood, this woman decided to go door-to-door, asking every single person on four blocks, if they lost a dog. She was on a mission. She asked me, "didn't you see the poster?" Right in front of my Brownstone and slapped on a tree was a bright orange flier, with big magic marker letters reading: FOUND DOG. It was followed by a description. I told her I had not seen it, but she plastered a bunch of these around the neighborhood, just hours earlier. We figure Max climbed down the steps behind my house, walked through the backyard and somehow squeezed his way through a hole in a fence or hopped over it, landing in another backyard.

The lady didn't know Max's name, so when I called out to him from under the tree, he perked up and slowly lifted himself up and walked toward me. Again, it wasn't Jean, it was his temporary caretaker who he had only met a few times before.
Max seemed relieved. His tail was wagging, but he was still scared to leave the security and solitude of that bushy tree, in some lady's backyard.

I brought Max's leash and hooked it on him and we walked back through the woman's house to President street. Just a few steps away and we were home. Well, I was home. Max's home is 20 blocks away, but for him, he seemed calm and relaxed, grateful that a nice lady down the street was kind enough to launch a full scale search for the owner of the little guy. Thank God, I don't have to stare Jean in the face and say, "I'm sorry, I lost your dog."

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