In the age of technology, when a dog goes missing, people rely on microchips, Craigslist and Facebook to get them back. Every so often, you see fliers for missing pets. But in a city as large as New York, who would expect that a flier would bring home a little dog with no collar?
That’s exactly what happened for Dr. Diana Kirschner when her 27-pound mutt called Zoey went missing. On a Sunday in October, Diana’s father Marc took the dog to Central Park to watch the ducks. Two smaller dogs approached, and Zoey excitedly slipped out of her collar and began running.
“I’m screaming for help,” Marc said, as he had watched Zoey exited the park and began dodging cars at West 110th Street. He called his wife and daughter to break the news, and the three made 1,000 posters to cover any lamppost or shop window within the one-mile radius of where Zoey was last seen. The devastated family offered $5,000 for the return of their dog.
On Monday the Kirschners received a call from a police Captain who told them a black dog was seen limping near the George Washington Bridge about an hour after Zoey took off. After checking a map, they felt the distance between the park and the bridge was more than Zoey would have been able to run in that time.
The family expanded the search, and more fliers were made. A boy of about 13 called to say he had seen Zoey in the park, but she’d run away. He hung up the phone when Diana’s mother, Nancy Fisher, asked to speak to his father. A Brooklyn man said he had Zoey in his yard, but wanted the Kirschners to provide him with the information on Zoey’s tag before telling them anything else. Zoey hadn’t been wearing a collar. Another man sent an email saying he knew where the dog was , that she was found by his neighbor’s daughter “around a train station in Harlem,” and that he could “take the dog away without her knowing.” He wanted to remain anonymous, and couldn’t take a picture of the dog without seeming suspicious. The Kirschners realized it was a scam when he asked them to wire him the money.
The days passed, and the weather worsened. Diana had another thousand fliers printed and ready to distribute when her mother’s cell phone rang. Diana answered it, and a woman with a thick Russian accent told her she thought she had her dog. Diana asked her to take a picture on her cell phone and send it to her. After a week of disappointing scams and wrong dogs, someone had finally come through. It was her Zoey.
Elena Blank and Julia Grossman of Moscow were walking their dog in Fort Washington Park near the George Washington Bridge. They noticed a small black dog similar to theirs, but with a limp. It walked over to them, and buried its nose in Elena’s knees as she bent to pet it. The pair had seen one of the fliers earlier in the week, and thought it was curious to see it posted when the dog went missing so far from there. The women gathered the injured dog and a poster and called the Kirschners.
Zoey had a broken pelvis. The family wondered, was Zoey the same dog the boy had called about earlier in the week? She made it to the area they thought was too far for her to run. The Kirschners will never know for sure, but they are just delighted to have their family member back.
“This is like a Woody Allen movie,” Julia said. “People from different cultures. Brought together by a dog and our love of animals. It’s a beautiful experience. New York at its best.”