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

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

By Naomi Serviss / New York City


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?

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.


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…


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



Dec 22, 2021

Love comes in small packages. Lucky Janis, lucky you. ❤️


Dec 22, 2021

And once again Naomi weaves a magical melodic story that takes one on a journey through the past, present, and future. Welcome, Janis! So happy she found you!!


Dec 15, 2021


Cute pics!


Dec 12, 2021

Marvelous story. I wonder what changed Lew's mind.

Dec 16, 2021
Replying to

So glad you enjoyed it!


Dec 11, 2021

As Naomi's neighbor—three floors below me—and fellow Central Park fanatic, I can

vouch for Janis and her lovableness. Who can resist her attempts to run up the front of me until I pick her up for, yes, licks-on-the-lips cuddles.

Dec 11, 2021
Replying to

Thanks, neighbor!

Janis is persistent but only with those she senses are simpatico!❣️

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