Lost and Found: How a Whole Neighborhood Helped Get My Dog Back
On Tuesday we brought home our new dog. On Thursday I lost him.
I was taking him for a walk in my Manhattan neighborhood when another dog lunged at him. Lil Moe, a sweet, shy, slender racehorse of a miniature pinscher, the first dog I have owned since childhood, freaked out and jerked backward out of his collar and leash. He bolted down the sidewalk and disappeared.
A rapid-fire series of emotions ran through my brain. Horror: He has no ID tag. Disbelief: This isn't happening. Hope: He won't go far. Shock terror panic guilt grief. Then I ran. I ran blocks and blocks in hipster platform sandals after the vanished dog, knowing he would not turn back. He barely knew my voice; he had been in the city for only 36 hours and couldn't find his way home if he wanted to.
As I sprinted, people on the sidewalk registered something terrible in my face. "He ran down 86th Street!" they called. "A man's trying to catch him!"
I ran and ran until I couldn't run anymore, and then I staggered, out of oxygen and energy, sobbing to every stranger, "Did you see a little lost dog?" A deliveryman left his truck to join the hunt. Professional dog walkers took my number and started calling other dog walkers to spread the word. A woman at a bus stop said, "I'll ask Michael. He can do anything." She meant Saint Michael. I am not religious, but I wanted to sink with gratitude against her kind shoulder.
An hour later, after a trip to a copy shop, I was plastering Lost Dog signs around the neighborhood. I walked block after block, still crying, thinking the worst. He could have been anywhere -- killed by a taxi, cowering under a parked car, injured and hiding in Central Park. I thought about telling my family I'd lost Lil Moe. I thought, I have killed an animal.
My cell phone buzzed. Someone had texted me: "I'm the man who chased your dog to Lex and 86th. I'm sorry I couldn't catch him. Good luck." I called him back in tears to thank him for trying.
A woman stopped me as I was hanging my 50th or so sign. Her eyes were wide. "I just saw your dog!" she said. "A man was holding him and asking a doorman on 89th or 90th Street if he knew whose it was!"
It turned out that Lil Moe had run across a busy avenue and four streets, then curled up in the doorway of an apartment building. A man named Greg found him huddled there like a tiny, scared fawn. He carried the dog upstairs and made Found Dog posters. Then he walked the block, asking doormen if they recognized the dog, leaving his phone number with each one. After one doorman gave me Greg's number, I went up to his apartment, and there was Lil Moe, cuddled in the lap of a second, much older man in a wheelchair. "My friend has Alzheimer's," Greg told me.