A New York Story

Many people are scared of dogs, and others just don’t like their company. Sometimes though, secret dog-lovers suprise you out of nowhere.

Yesterday I had to wire some money. I combined walking our Greyhounds with a trek to the nearest Western Union in a fairly busy section of downtown Brooklyn, decided it was too busy on the sidewalk to tie them up outside and brought them in to stand in the fifteen-plus person line.

Monkey & Turtle in a waiting room
as stressed-out as they ever are 

Now these are well-behaved dogs.  Ok, they don’t know quite as many commands as one might expect from pack members of a professional dog trainer (I’ve slacked especially on the highly anti-delicious “Drop it!”). But they generally do what I need them to, and are calm and obedient even in the most hectic of social situations.

Which was the case here, as I waited with the dogs tucked neatly between my leg and the wall, short-leashed, motionless, and silent, when a small man carrying a backpack sidled up to me and said “The dogs shouldn’t be here.”
I smiled and decided not to get into a philosophical or political debate. He continued, “It’s crowded in here.”
I responded, “It’s crowded in here without the dogs.”

Let me explain my admittedly curt tone. I know dogs aren’t allowed in establishments that serve food. That’s understandable for health reasons. I also know some people are allergic to doggie dander, so when asked to leave a private establishment I’ll always concede. But in lots of cases I feel it isn’t a real health concern, rather just someone’s irrational fear or aesthetic preference. And that makes me sad, people depriving themselves and others from all that doggie love for no good reason at all!

Anyway, the man continued. “Are you depositing money? I can help you.”

Immediately my jaded city mind saw a scam impending.

“Do you work here?” I asked.

“Look,” he evaded. “I told you, I can help you … or you gotta leave. Come outside with me.”

Alright, now this was getting weird. He walked outside and I got the attention of one of the cashiers. “Does that guy work here?” I asked.

The cashier glanced up and responded, “He owns the place.”

I bit my tongue, grabbed the leashes and headed out front to apologize to the man. He proceeded to explain that he loves dogs but they can’t be in the store, and he always tries to help dogs and their owners when he can. He brought a form outside where I filled it out, then he took my cash up to the window himself (“Better not let the others who’ve been waiting in the line see you go up,” he explained.)

I was still a bit jittery through all of this, but felt much better after getting his name, phone number, and receipt of transaction. After all was said and done I again thanked him profusely, shook his hand, and told him I really appreciate people who love dogs and try to help them and their owners out in this sometimes cold, often tough city.

It was a good New York surprise.


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