Love at first sight: Walking the scorching hot summer New York City streets in search of a loving dog
It was one of those scorching hot New York City summer months. When it hits 90 degrees or above in New York City, you can see the newspapers, confetti, and just plain old pollen just slowly drift downwards making its way onto the sidewalk. You see dog owners fanning their dogs. Some stores put out water bowls for the little creatures taking a stroll while panting away. The urban jungle most definitely keeps you sweating bullets whether you are riding the subway underground or walking a short distance to your destination.
I had just moved back to New York City moving on up to the Gramercy area of Manhattan. I had one of those two bedroom apartments that would probably constitute a studio anywhere else. One almost had to brush one’s teeth in the hallway for how small the bathroom was. Nonetheless it was home and my very first apartment in Manhattan. It was a treasure and sign of my hard work. I was still earning a pittance of a salary as a post-doc but I was now Dr. Mimi and living in the big city. What more could a girl want?
Well, I wanted a dog. I wanted my very own furry companion. I wanted a little creature that would lay at my foot and be adored. I didn’t want a working dog or an overly active dog –it was a Manhattan-sized apartment after all. I just wanted a creature that I could pamper. I became determined to get one. In New York City there are many stores that sell dogs and designer dogs at that. I would look in the window and see the $1,000 price tags on some of them and walk away shaking my head. I didn’t own designer handbags (that weren’t fake from Chinatown). Why would I ever get a designer dog? I was from the South Bronx. I may not still be “from the block” the way Jennifer Lopez sings about but I was not that far removed to go buy a $1000 or more dog.
Thus, I set on a journey to adopt a dog. Three weekends in a row I walked from Downtown all the way up to 110th street to the local animal shelter. I walked in the summer heat determined to fall in love with a little furry creature. I dripped in sweat and looked a wreck by the time I made it to the shelter. It was my odd way of getting exercise as I hate gyms. Each weekend I would venture forth filled with hope and return a few pounds lighter and with a growing hole in my heart. The dogs were either too big or we didn’t connect when we looked into each other’s eyes.
On the fourth weekend, I was a bit dejected but still determined. Off I set about my walking journey yet again. I stopped for drinks and treats along the way. I got to the shelter in the late morning. I walked about the facilities yet again. They were all so beautiful and sad. My heart ached at seeing them caged and hopeful that today would be the day they would get a home.
I past a cage that was high up and I peered in. There was the scruffiest Pekinese I had ever seen. He was also the biggest Pekinese I had ever seen. He wasn’t big in terms of being overweight. He was just rather very long. Interesting little creature. He also had the wildest under-bite I had ever seen giving him the appearance of being a gremlin. I loved that movie. It was just the silliest late-night entertainment.
I poked my fingers into the cage and he came over and licked them. I looked into his eyes and fell in love. We took him for a walk on the rooftop (it is New York afterall) and he was curious. He sniffed everything and every corner. He stopped and looked about. It let me walk him as if we had been together for years. He indicated he felt safe in my hands. I knew he was mine and I was his at that moment.
We let the shelter know that we wished to adopt him and we filled out the paperwork. We could not take him home with us that very day as he had to have his operation and get shots and the like. Thus, we all took him back to his cage with the full understanding that he would be coming home with us a few days later. Well, almost all of us had that understanding. Upon being placed back in the cage he grew distraught. He looked at us and whined a bit. I tried to tell him that we would come back for him. I went to pet him through the slots and then he showed me that most awesome under-bite again. He was upset and letting us know. He had turned into a full-on gremlin. I could not help but smile. He most assuredly had a personality. He was going to let me know when he was not happy.
He was not a creature to just be adored. Although, through the following years thereafter he did grow into a full-on diva role. He had things to “say” and wanted to be heard. That was my sassy dog from the streets of Spanish Harlem. And thus he got a sexy sassy name. He was our Milo.
When I arrived home a week later he ran to me down the long hallway of our tiny apartment, I scooped him up into my arms and we danced the night away. A scene to be replicated for over ten years. Although, he is now gone that love –that love at first sight- will always stay in my heart
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