One cold and rainy November evening, my husband and I decided to stop for a quick supper before heading for our apartment in midtown Manhattan.
Walking into the diner, we noticed a small black and white dog loosely tied to a fire hydrant. Since it was not unusual for a city dweller to leave a dog unattended for a few minutes while tending to a quick errand, we didn't give it much thought; however, we did comment on the weather, which was frightfully cold and pouring.
When we left the restaurant about an hour later, the little dog was still tied up, cold and shaking. Incurable animal lovers that we were, we could only hope the owner was very near to claiming this adorable young pup, but since it had been over an hour already, we feared he may have been abandoned. Reluctantly, we headed home.
Reaching our apartment, we were greeted by our own spirited terrier, Piper, who excitedly ran for his leash since he knew it was his walk time followed by a "good boy" treat. How could he know it was pouring out -- this was his walk time, and he was ready to go.
Reaching curbside, Piper took care of business and made a mad dash back to the lobby. There was no way he was going to let his beautiful white coat get wet and matted.
Arriving back at our warm and cozy apartment, we knew we had to return to the restaurant to see if the owner had finally picked up his little black and white dog. It was not so -- there he was, still tied, still shaking, very cold and very wet.
It was now evident he had been abandoned and left tied to a hydrant in the hopes that someone would come along and take him home. We untied him and walked back to our building.
Reaching the lobby with our little friend, we told the doorman about our found stray and he readily agreed to board him in the basement for a few days. The following morning we placed an ad in the lost and found section of the newspaper.
Over the next few days some of the other tenants joined in and took turns feeding and walking him. I continued to try to find a loving home for this precious, gentle little dog.
A visit to our vet showed he was a mixed breed about 2 years old, in good health, and did not appear to be abused. He was in fine shape.
Nearly two weeks had passed with no one responding to our ad about the adorable pup when one day I met one of our older fellow tenants in the lobby. This kindly gentleman in his mid-60s was slightly bent over and had very sad eyes. He had recently lost his partner of 32 years and was despondent.
"Any luck finding him a home yet?" he asked.
"No, not yet."
Just as I was about to walk away, the lonely man said, "What about me? Would you consider letting me take him? I'm roaming around my six-room apartment with no purpose, no one to talk to, no one to share my day with. I think we could be good for each other."
"You're right!" I said "It could be great for both of you. Love him and he'll love you back."
In the following months, the relationship between the lonely man and his dog that he now called "Oscar" went into high gear. Life was good for the lonely man and his new friend.
There was a spring in the man's walk, and he no longer stooped over. Oscar walked with tail up, and his shiny coat was proof of good grooming. He enjoyed Frisbee tosses in the park, table scraps from the local steak house and road trips to upstate New York to visit the man's sister on her 12-acre farm, where Oscar was free to romp freely with her two beagles and golden lab.
It was two years later that the man was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. At the insistence of his sister, he and Oscar moved to her farm.
The once-lonely man passed several months later, leaving $10,000 for Oscar's continued care. A codicil to his will said, "He gave me purpose."
Lydia Einhorn of Cranberry, a retired advertising junior account executive, can be reached at email@example.com.