Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Welcome to New York City!"

(Picture left: A family of Canadian Geese.....one of many beautiful images left in the west.)

I arrived back in New York City this past Saturday after a short, 4-day trip to California.

But, while my physical body, animals, work, friends and cozy Manhattan apartment are here, my heart is not.

Always in the past, when traveling somewhere I eagerly looked forward to returning "home."

But, that has not been the case now.

Having to say goodbye to that special person in my life at the airport was more like the last scene from "Casablanca."

Since getting back, there have of course been the things to keep the mind occupied.

It was great to get my dogs, Tina and Chance back. It was good to see my cats again and talk to good. dependable friends.

Furthermore, I was not back in the city more than an hour when there was the inevitable call from Animal Control about a particular dog and a couple of cats that needed rescue.

The cats were actually rescued and adopted out by me more than a couple of years ago, but then were unceremoniously dumped back in the shelter while I was away, due to so-called "allergies."

I called Tessa from the Martha's Vineyard shelter to request her to take the two cats and the dog. Fortunately, because her shelter has room, Tessa thankfully agreed.

Yesterday, I received a call from Sabrina at the Brooklyn Animal Care and Control shelter about two Chows that need rescue.

I promised Sabrina I would do what I could to save the dogs.

All of these things normally would have the affect of bringing one quickly back down to earth and into the swing of things, but I can't say that I feel "in the swing" of anything here in New York.

Rather, I feel like I am in some foreign land.

The feeling of "going to or being in a foreign land" began from the moment the plane took off from California to head east. I looked from the window down at the fast dwindling and disappearing lights thinking to myself that my heart was still on the ground.

A flight attendant then announced, "Please pull down the window shades as the sunrise streaming in the windows as we head east is likely to disturb those passengers trying to sleep."

"Great!" I cynically thought. The whole point of requesting a window seat on an otherwise "red eye" flight was to enjoy the sight of the sunrise coming over the east.

I felt like I was riding back to New York on a plane full of vampires.

That feeling was reinforced when personally requested by the flight attendant and a passenger next to me to pull down the window shade.

I was afraid to sleep for fear someone would suck the blood out of my neck.

Once arriving in New York City from sunny California, the morning was cool, damp, overcast and drizzly.

I later battled crowds at Grand Central and a packed subway taking me "home."

Numerous telemarketing and other time wasting messages awaited my arrival back to the apartment.

The highlight of the day upon arrival back in New York was the reuniting with my two dogs and my cats.

It was also fun catching friends up to the highlights of the trip.

But, still feeling I was in some sort of "fog" or roaming around a foreign land, I attempted to "get back to normal" by taking my dogs, Tina and Chance for a nice Saturday walk in Central Park.

Since the day was cool and threatening rain, the park was not as crowded as it normally is on a Spring weekend.

For a while, the walk was quite pleasant -- that is, until I ran into a couple of other dog owners and our 4 dogs greeted each other and briefly intermingled.

But, then totally unexpectantly and out of the blue, Tina decided to play "alpha dog" and nipped the Shih-Tzu of a youngish, 30-something, Asian woman.

The woman recoiled in horror as I immediately pulled Tina away. She closely examined her dog, looking for any bite wounds or injuries.

"I'm so sorry," I said, sincerely. "My dog is usually good with other dogs, but can sometimes be a bit dominant."

"Look at this!" the woman corrected, pointing to what was a tiny pinprick of blood one would practically need a magnifying glass to see. "Your dog bit my dog!"

The woman then demanded my license and proof of rabies shots.

I pointed to the rabies tag on Tina and assured the irate dog owner that Tina was both spayed and vaccinated.

"I'm hardly walking around Central Park with a rabid dog," I added sarcastically.

Well, admittedly, that wasn't the smartest or most sensitive thing to say under the circumstances and simply added fuel to the woman's fire.

I tried to assure the woman that this kind of thing happens all the time in dog runs or casual dog encounters. Not all dog automatically like each other. The superficial nick was not something that would require veterinary attention and in fact my own dogs have been victims of such scrapes in the past. The Shih Tzu was skipping around with tail wagging, having already forgotten about her rebuffed attempt at play with my older Tina.

Myself and the angry dog owner finally parted ways, but I left the park feeling somewhat drained and with the feeling that I could not again allow Tina to go up to other dogs. Yes, normally Tina is fine with other dogs, but for that one rare time she might not be, (for whatever reason) its not worth the aggravation.

Phone calls over the past few days have been likewise, mostly "aggravating."

They have ranged from the time-wasting, curiosity calls to the normal, perfection-seeking dog adoption calls. They want guarantees for how potentially adopted dogs travel on airplanes to how they will be with the neighbor's kids or dogs. As someone whose 13-year-old dog recently had a negative encounter with a dog in the park, I feel I cannot answer these questions with any kind of certainty. As for the woman asking how a dog might be under the seat of a plane, I told her that these days, airline passengers can't even stand the thought of sun light through the cabin, let alone the potential barking of a small dog.

This morning when brining my dogs back to my building after a walk, I was barely able to make it to my entrance way for the rush of oncoming pedestrian traffic. One guy rushing in a business suit gave me a dirty look when I stepped in front of him to get to the steps of my building.

"Welcome to New York City." I thought. You can't even get into your own building!

Yes, New York City has everything -- but those most dear to my heart.

My heart is still on the ground, far, far west -- not to know if it is ever coming back. -- PCA


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