New Yorkers are Angels
The Worst… and Best Day
want to tell you about the worst (and best) morning of my life.
But, first, I need to give you a bit of background. Last December my husband and I got a rescue puppy we named Mia. She is a 30-pound, ten-month-old who we found through SochiDogs.org.
They were great to work with; from the beginning, they were very upfront about how timid and fearful Mia was. With their help we were able to prepare. When she refused to come out of her crate, we were ready. When she kept having accidents in the house, we were un-phased. It took great patience to get her out of her shell, but we were on top of it. It wasn’t easy going emotionally, but every small step forward was cause for enough celebration that we felt very hopeful.
So, on to the horror show. It was a snowy Sunday morning in Brooklyn. I woke up and threw galoshes over my pajama pants to take Mia out for her morning constitutional. We went outside no problem, she did her thang successfully. As I was struggling to open the poo bag and thinking to myself “Ahhhhh… Progress…” Mia slipped her leash like the hairiest of Houdinis and bolted directly into traffic. I took off after her, also directly in the middle of Atlantic Avenue, screaming like a banshee.
The memory of the moment when my brain caught up with my body about two blocks down still makes me tear up. The image of the sweet creature of my dreams speeding on stumpy legs away from me, and not being able to will my legs to move fast enough to get to her—my heart still stops like it’s happening all over again.
All I can say is: “Thank God for New Yorkers.”
When it comes to dogs: New Yorkers. Are. Angels.
As I was booking it down Atlantic Avenue, screaming my baby’s name, a strange man in a van pulled up next to me, threw open the passenger side door and yelled “Get in!” I ignored every single thing I was taught as a child and leapt in. Suddenly we were flying after Mia. He was running lights, following her the wrong way down one way streets. We didn’t speak. He just floored it.
Finally, Mia paused on a snow bank on the sidewalk (because the Princess prefers peeing on snow.) I leapt out of the minivan. Just as I dove for her, she took off again. The man in the van followed in hot pursuit. I ran to keep up but quickly lost sight. Of the two.
And suddenly my world ended. Again.
I ran down St. Marks Place screaming my baby’s name, even though my heart was breaking, knowing that she might never respond.
I called my husband, and he flew to my location with super-human speed. We spent the next forty minutes weeping through Park Slope, checking under every parked car we passed, and slowly losing hope.
Just as I was posting on every Brooklyn dog forum I could find on Facebook, my phone ran displaying an unknown number. I answered and shrieked something unintelligible into the phone, and then I heard a warm, heavy New York accent say: “Hey, we got Mia.”
Apparently, as my husband and I ran further and further away, Mia had doubled back and had been cornered by the Van-Man and two construction workers one block away from our apartment. Van-Man was super late to his job, so he entrusted the Magnificent Wonder Contractors Frank and Ho to keep Mia warm in their truck and search for me. They drove Mia to the local fire department first, who sent them to the local police precinct. The police then asked them “Does she have a tag?” Mia is a fluffy, fluffy pup, so her collar and tags were not immediately visible. After all of that running around like magical miracle heroes, they found her tag and called me.
I managed to communicate that I would meet them in the Atlantic McDonald’s parking lot, and then took off. Poor hubby was in chase, and I ran shrieking towards them.
Upon meeting me, Frank said: “We were looking for a screaming white woman.”
Ho passed her to me, saying: “I’d kill ten men before I let a dog get hurt.”
All I can say is: ANGELS.
We thanked them (gave them a dozen freshly baked cookies each the next day) and immediately carried our little stink angel to the vet. She was miraculously fine aside from running her back left nail down to the quick.
Van-Man called later, having gotten our number from Frank and Ho, to make sure Mia was okay. He only asked for pictures because he is a true American Hero and wanted to show his kids the puppy he helped save.
Sorry, it bears repeating:
Two hours after getting home, Mia was waiting calmly by the door to go out.
It’s really hard not to take that experience personally, but it is not, in fact, personal. Mia was not running from me, nor was she running to anything. Anything could have been the trigger to make her bolt, and once she got going, she only became more overwhelmed and panicked. Dogs are natural roamers, so when faced with so much overwhelming new stimuli, a rescue pup will often naturally want to run. I can’t say enough how very important to be very careful with skittish rescues outside.
In the months after her adoption, Mia has come out of her shell. Patience, TLC, and a boatload of cheese have transformed our quaking little gremlin into a bright puppy who loves to cuddle and play. She’s become our happy little shadow.
If you have a fearful dog here are some resources we found helpful were FearfulDogs.com, Nicole Wilde’s article on fearful dogs, and most of all, the Humane Society’s many fantastic behavior tips.
Mia still pulls and darts on her leash outside like it’s still the first day. We plan to seek out Positive Reinforcement Training for her when she’s a little more comfortable around new people, but I know she’ll always be on alert outside, and that’s something we have come to accept about her. Like any dog, and most people, she’s a work in progress.
In the meantime, we just get our playing done inside!
Claire Buckingham is a Texas-born, New York-based actress. She has not been in anything you would have seen. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and 11-month-old rescue pup, Mia.