Sad Dog Story – Sandra Martin

Many years ago while attending a conference in Kansas Sandy told this story. She said it was a true story.

Sandy had had cancer and felt she was cured by her work with animals. The comfort and unconditional love from her pets and the animals she’d rescued had changed and healed her life. She became an advocate for placing cancer patients with pets that needed a friend.

She’d arranged for her friend Jane to train down from upstate New York to dog sit an elderly Great Dane for a Manhattan friend. Jane had cancer too, was in remission and needed a change. She wasn’t much of a city person, but thought the change would do her good and was grateful for Sandy’s offer. Sandy’s friends were off to an island vacation for an entire month. A holiday they’d been taking for years.

Jane arrived; the vacationers introduced her to her charge. King was a very large and very old Great Dane. He had kind eyes and looked like he was truly loved and cared for. They gave her the tour of their apartment, told her the schedule for the dog, his veterinarian’s number and covered all the things she’d need to know. They said on past vacations they’d take King with them. But this time, they were leaving him. King was old and arthritic and they were worried about him.

Have a great holiday. Enjoy New York and goodbyes all around and they left.

Sandy and Jane went out for an early dinner. Sandy took the subway back to New Jersey. Jane walked back to the apartment to take King out for a walk and a tinkle.

“Sweet dog, do you want to go out for a tinkle?” He looked up, wagged his tail but didn’t really act like he needed to go. Seeing his toys around him, Jane tried to get him interested in playing, but didn’t seem interested in playing either. She remembered that the owners told her they’d taken him out just before she’d arrived.

Jane unpacked, got settled and about two hours later went, again, to King’s comfy sprawling bed to see if he was ready to out. Again, he wagged his tail, looked up at her but didn’t get up. She didn’t know what to do, but figured he was okay.

Jane went to bed.

When she woke up the next morning her first thought was; “I bet you’re ready to go for a walk now, King!”

She went to King’s bed, “I bet you’re ready to go out this morning aren’t you sweetie?”

He didn’t move, didn’t react: he didn’t move a muscle. She reached out to pet him and when she did, realized that King had died during the night. He was stiff as a board. Her first day on the job and the dog in her care had died.

What to do?

She was in shock. But she was in charge. It was seven in the morning. She called King’s veterinarian and left a message. She called and told the owners, saying over and over, “I’m so sorry.” They said they were afraid that might happen. They loved King but he was old and had arthritis. They gave her instructions. Have him cremated and whatever else she needed to do.

Jane called the ASPCA. They said they don’t remove animals. She called several shelters. They also said they don’t remove deceased animals. One, finally, said that they would cremate King but she’d have to bring him to their facility.

How to deliver King? She tried to get him in a carry case but he was too stiff to get into it. She scourged around looking for something big enough, strong enough to hold King and something that she could handle, too.

Finally she settled on a large canvas suitcase that was more like a duffle bag. She managed to get him inside all the while saying “I’m so sorry King; I’m so sorry.”

She felt so bad that she also put in his toys, his bowl, whatever she felt he might need in the next life. He deserved all the good she could do.

She dragged the duffle bag to the elevator. The doorman helped her drag the bag to the curb to try and hail a cab. It was raining; it was the Upper Eastside, not much chance of getting a taxi at 8 AM. The doorman told her that her best bet was the subway.

He gave her directions, handed her a token and wished her good luck.

She started up the street, muttering, “I’m so sorry King, I’m so sorry,” over each bump on the sidewalk. He was heavy and she was straining and, of course, no one was offering to help.

She finally got to the subway and started down the steps. Each step elicited an, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” By now Jane was almost in tears. It was like adding insult to injury–first he died and then she bumped him along the street. Poor King.

The train was had arrived and Jane was trying to go through the turnstile, while everyone else was streaming out. She and King got stuck. The bag was too big and too awkward. She couldn’t move him forward; she couldn’t move him backwards. It was too much and finally, she couldn’t help herself, she broke down and started crying. Really crying.

No one said anything, no one stopped to offer help. Finally, the subway cleared and she was there alone, crying with the dead dog at her feet.

She turns to ask the man in the booth to help her and sees a man comes down the subway steps. He is dressed in a suit and tie. He had a kind face but with a puzzled expression seeing her crying. He says, “Can I help you?”

She mumbles “Yes, thank you,” through her tears. With long and obviously strong arms, he reaches over her, over the turnstile and picks up the bag. Picks it up and moves it away from the subway platform where the trains arrive.

“No, no, Sir, I want to get on the train.”

The kind stranger then pulls the bag up to him, gives her a quick glance and starts running-across the subway station towards the street and up the steps, carrying King in the duffle bag, back just the way he’d come in.

Jane is shocked, “No, no I need to get on the train.”

Finally gets it–the light comes on.

Her kind stranger is stealing her suitcase, he is stealing King!

Chasing after him, running not more than a block or so, she stops knowing she’d get lost and more importantly, what would she do if she caught him?

“Oh my God, this is terrible. What am I going to do?”

Then it occurs to her what a surprise he’ll have when he opens that bag. Jane’s crying turns into laughter. She laughs all the way back to the apartment. She tells the doorman, he laughs and she calls her friend, Sandy, who comes over. They go to Starbucks and they imagine his surprise when he unzips that suitcase. They hope that he’ll dispose of the sweet King in a good way.

They don’t know what else to do-report a dead stolen dog? No. No way.