Many years ago, I was a struggling dancer/singer/actress living in a five-story walk-up in New York City with my husband and three cats. My husband and I knew that one day we would adopt a dog when we moved to the country (i.e., the suburbs or anything with a blade of grass that simulated the country). That day, in our minds, was some time off.
Whenever I saw an ASPCA mobile unit, I couldn’t help myself…..it was as if a great magnetic field had pulled me in. But, I avoided the cute little kittens as our landlord wouldn’t be particularly keen on another cat in our small apartment, but the dogs were safe to visit as I knew I could not take one home at this juncture in our lives. Little did I know what fate had in store for me.
One day, I was again drawn into an ASPCA mobile unit. I made a beeline past the cats to the poor lonesome dogs in their cages to offer my company for a while. As I looked around the crowded little trailer, I saw one after another of perfect little Hallmark card dogs -- a peppy little poodle, a cocker spaniel with three-inch eyelashes, a golden retriever who could warm the heart of even the most crotchety old man. Then I met the funniest dog I had ever seen in my life. She was white with black freckles on her nose, big beagle spots on her body, and orange freckles in between. She had one blue eye, one brown eye, huge ears, and ribs so apparent you wondered how she had made it this far. I asked the attendant to please let me meet her. When this gangly bundle of bones was put in my arms, all she could do was hug (and I mean squeeze) and whisper sweet nothings in my ear with her big wet tongue. I asked about her story. She had been found simply wandering the streets of Upper Manhattan. I took her I.D. number down with the intention that I would personally make sure she was rescued.
Off I went to my job as a telemarketer for a theatre company. I sat in the first phone cubical, so every person who showed up for work had to hear the story of the gangly dog. (Poor things!) The last two colleagues who listened to my story informed me that the animals in the mobile unit were there because it was their last chance before being put down! My heart sank. (Now, I have to interject here and say I have no idea if that was in fact true, but it did catapult me into action.) I was not worried about the Hallmark dogs as they had a good chance of being adopted, but I worried about the fate of the dear gangly dog. I immediately called my husband at work and explained to him that the dog we had planned to have when we moved to the country had been born prematurely and if we did not rescue her immediately, she might be put down that night! Despite his absolute confusion at my absurd request, I managed to convince him that we had no other option but to save “our” dog.
With ten dollars and a pocket full of change donated by my colleagues, I hailed a cab and set off in pursuit of my gangly dog. Of course, this was rush hour and rushing uptown in Manhattan was not a possibility. I did not have a cell phone (at this time, only a very few did) so my cabdriver graciously pulled up to every fifth payphone on our journey up First Avenue. I had to persuade the ASPCA staff that it was well worth it for them to stay the unpaid overtime so that I could rescue the gangly dog!
As the cab pulled up to the building, I could see the metal door drawn closed short of two feet. They waited for me! Though inclined to do my imitation of a runner sliding into home plate, I refrained and settled for a sprint and a frantic bang on the door. “I’m here to pick up 1ISA942!” I exclaimed. They laughed and acknowledged me for the crazy lady I appeared to be. After all, I called them seven times from pay phones until my arrival to ensure that no one put down MY dog. The attendant on duty proceeded to bring me into one room after another of wall-to-wall dog crates in pursuit of my gangly dog. When I spotted her, she was curled up in the far corner of her top bunk cage. When the gentleman showed her the rope lasso to remove her, she resisted with her entire being. I could tell my beloved new friend had had a frightening short life so far. But, I wanted her to know that was now about to change.
Gangly dog became Nannydog, the love of my life. Nannydog and I spent 14 wonderful years together. We eventually did make it to the country….to a suburb with a couple of beautiful grassy acres for Nannydog to run and play.
Sometimes, you adopt an animal exactly when you've planned. Other times, well, fate has a hand in when and where we meet the loves of our lives. You just never know.