Early in the morning I went for my usual 3-mile run in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. On the overpass leading to the zoo I saw a dog off leash, a young tan bit bull, that ran up to people, looking confused and unsure what to do. He jumped up on me in a greeting, which I did not particularly like but it revealed a good-natured dog, he had a blue collar with a two-feet piece of rope tied to it.
I stopped to look around for his owner, but I already felt that the dog is probably lost and had been running around for some time. Unsure what to do, I called 911, and the guy said that they don’t deal with dogs and suggested that I called 311 instead. A group of men walked by and the dog followed them to the fountain by the merry-go-round a couple of hundred feet away. They sat on a bench in front of the fountain, I walked up to them and asked whether they knew the dog or his owner. They spoke Spanish and at first I thought they did not speak English at all, but after a pause one of them said, “It’s a nice dog, take it!” And I thought – why not? At least he will not be killed by a car or hurt by people.
The dog was no longer interested in the men and went to run on the grass. A woman at 311 gave me the number for Animal Care and Control, which I called only to find that they were opening at 8; it was around 7 o’clock then. I also called the number for the North Shore Animal League on the tag that was attached to the dog’s collar; they were opening at 10.
So I sat there for a minute or two, and decided to take him home until I figure out where to take him. I grabbed the end of the rope, which was just long enough to walk him without having to bend over, and walked briskly home. He was pulling on the rope, and by the end of the walk my fingers were numb. He may had never been walked on a leash, or entered an elevator.
The dog immediately went on exploring my little apartment. I gave him some water, but he was not thirsty. He was a bit excited and playful and started jumping on me and nipping at my hands, I calmed him down the best I could. He tried to play with a dumbel and a pillow but I quickly stepped in and made him stop.
After 8 I called ACC. They said that they will send a truck “sometime,” which was not very helpful as I had to go to work. Around 9 my other half showed up, and gave me an ultimatum to have the dog out by noon, and left. (I won’t describe the ugly scene.) I could not rely on ACC showing up before noon, and I had to explore other options.
After 10 I called the number on the dog’s tag again, and they said that they will try to reach the owner right away. I called back shortly before 11 only to learn that the owner wasn’t at home and that they had left a message. I said that I would take a cab and bring the dog over. I called ACC to cancel the case, but gave up after listening to the hold music for a few minutes. I pulled up the directions on the Web, put on city clothes, took a shoulder stap from an old bag for the leash, and we headed out to the taxi stand which is 15 minutes walk away from my house.
When I told the cab driver where to go he looked at me and said, “Have you ever been there?” I said “No,” to which he replied, “It’s not like city streets out there.” Then I realized that he thought that I had never ventured outside the five boroughs and said “Yes, I know, I drove there many times. I’ve got the directions.” For a moment I forgot the name of the town where we were going, Port Washington, which added to the confusion.
The trip cost me $40. I was stopped by a guard in a booth in front of the main entrance, “You cannot enter with a dog.” I explained him the situation, and after he located the right person for me to speak to he led me to the side entrance to the building. We entered a barren room with red tiled floor, a couple of benches fixed to the walls, two glass window doors to the offices, and a short corridor. There were two women who immediately recognized the dog, his name turned out to be Duke and he had been adopted a few months ago to someone in Brooklyn.
They asked me a few quesitons, took down my contact info and got me to sign a form and I handed Duke over. “Good bye, Mister!” I said to him, just like Cesar Millan would say, I was glad he was out of harm’s way. I walked to the LIRR station, and by the time I got home it was 2 in the afternoon, I still hadn’t taken a shower and it would be 4 o’clock by the time I’d get to the office, so I did the work I could do remotely.