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Aisle Seat: My Dogged Pursuit of a Four-Legged Rock Star!

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

By Naomi Serviss / New York City


Janis!
Janis!

Since when did it become harder


to adopt a dog


than to score Music Man tickets?


Droves of angsty quarantined folk


sought four-legged companionship


to cope last year.


A tidal wave of applications


and personal references


swamped adoption agencies.


Some asked for multiple references,


a vet’s stats, your college GPA


and your firstborn.


City pounds were less stringent.


Too bad their websites


were not user-friendly.


They had more pit-mixes


than wee apartment pups,


all the rage


in New York City’s space-desert.


I understand the importance


of vetting wannabe pup parents.


But is it really necessary


to submit a video of your living space?


Is this theater of the absurd?


Or a voyeur’s thrill?



Petfinder,


a clearinghouse for multiple organizations,


is a marketing whiz.

So website hounds (clears throat)


are privy to available dog photos,


profiles and links to yet more agencies


hoping to clear their shelters.


Other worthy groups including


Rescue Dogs Rock, Waldo’s Rescue,


Bide-A-Wee et al,


experienced Internet traffic booms


during those initial lonely days


in the spring of 2020. 




How do I know this?


I was merely checking for a friend.





Ever since hounding Central Park dogs


for iPhone snaps,


I’ve been designated


the Puparazzi of Central Park.


It was win/win!


I could admire all the friendly pups


(and owners)


without dealing with the expense,


dog poop duty, and training needed


for a full-time commitment.


So my close encounters of the furry kind


began and ended


with my daily morning Central Park walk


among the four-leggeds.


Full disclosure:

I’ve not-so-secretly


longed for another rescue


ever since we moved to the city


a dozen years ago.


The two mutts we had saved in the past


were basic brown dog treasures.



Rescued from the no-frills, last-hope


Huntington Dog Pound on Long Island.


Especially Maggie, who had us for 15 years


and grew up with our kids.


She was irreplaceable,


with the sweetest disposition


of any animal I’ve encountered.



My husband was versus


having any size dog


for our 750-square foot apartment.


Lew prefers his dogs


medium-sized and grateful.


Moot point.


Case closed.


So it goes.


On my morning walks I became obsessed


with regally, aesthetically perfect Barry,


a 150-pound Bernese Mountain Dog.


He reminded me of Scout,


my childhood friend Susie’s


gorgeous Golden Retriever.


Scout was laid-back and huge.


He had the run of the estate.


By “run,” I mean slowly amble.


Barry loved lounging on my foot,


leaning in with his massive bulk.


No matter that he outweighed me,


it felt comforting


to have a massive good-natured, fur creature


who tolerated my candid photo-taking.


Fortunately, his owners know he was top choice


among the other Central Park Berns.


Barry has no peer.


Tricolored, perfectly symmetrical


in black, brown and white, he’s stunning.


He could also be goofy, like me.


Barry was my dream dog.


Months later, I somehow found myself


trawling Petfinder for potential sidekicks.


I got hooked.

I went all in, applying willy-nilly


to every local agency,


knowing my chances were remote.


Then, miracle of miracles, Lew came on board.


It might have had something to do


with our kids’ thunderous encouragement.


Or my relentless whining and pining.


Nevertheless, the important thing


Is that he saw the wisdom


in maintaining good relations.


He caved, but I still didn’t


pass muster with the agencies.


My friend Janice, another devoted pet lover,


felt my pain after fruitless applications.



She asked if I had tried


New York City’s Humane Society.


As Homer Simpson would say, “D’oh!”


I hadn’t.


She set me straight


as to what an amazing agency it is.


It’s where she found her forever friend!


So, I got back on the horse,


so to speak and applied.


By that time,


a small basic brown dog


seemed beyond my reach.


I just never considered other hues.


I wasn’t vehemently opposed


to shades of grey or black,


but I didn’t ever want to be owned


by a white dog.


Like wearing a white T-shirt,


I’d worry about keeping it spotless.


That being said, my application was in process.


Whatever that meant.


Admittedly, it didn’t hurt having


Janice as a reference, especially since


she had adopted from them 11 years ago.


I spoke to Sandra, the executive director


who empathized with my small pup hunt.


Just so happened that a nine-pound two-year-old,


full-grown lass might be the one!



Being summoned to meet outside


the Upper East Side location


was nerve-wracking and new-baby-exciting.


Twenty minutes later,


Sandra emerged carrying


a small, fluffy white dog named Petunia.

A Maltese.


Zing!


I was smitten with Petunia,


a mirthful bundle of squirmy joy


who stole a piece of my heart.


Lew and Janis, our new rock star
Lew and Janis, our new rock star

Sandra said think about it and discuss with Lew.


I wondered how many other people


were being considered


for this apartment-friendly dog?


I wanted to project earnestness,


so I agreed,


petting Petunia one last time.


Her gregarious nature


and floofy hair (not fur)


recalled the raspy-voiced,


late rock star


whose rendition of “Me and Bobby McGee”


is tops in my heart.


I had never considered


a mini or toy variety before.


But post-foot surgery,


handling a medium-sized dog


was out of the equation.


I was cautiously optimistic, and realistic.


But my friend Janice had a hunch


my luck was about to turn.


A confluence of coincidences


was hard to dismiss.


Petunia was Lew’s pet name


for our daughter Emmy.


Janis was my late sister Rachel’s middle name.


It’s also a maternal family name.


Janis Joplin is one of my favorite rockers.


My friend of 20 years, Janice,


directed me to the Humane Society.


The fates were kind and the stars were aligned.


A week later, on my birthday, no less…


Kismet.




Welcome, Janis Joplin Petunia Serviss!


It’s going to be a very good year.



 






Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com

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