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City Dog: When Turkey met Luke; a feel-good story of two hard-luck pups

BY LYNN PACIFICO | Sometimes we find an unloved one, one whose life holds no joy or hope.

One Thanksgiving Day years ago, there was a large mixed-breed dog in the Washington Square dog run without an owner. There was something unusual about the dog as he just stood in one spot, expressionless. One of the regular run users was Mary, who named the dog Turkey and took him home to live with her and her elder dog.

Who knows what poor Turk had gone through that drove him out of his mind. Sadly, no matter what Mary tried, Turk remained lost to what was going on around him.

Around the same time, my son moved into a roommate situation. On his first day, he noticed a puppy on the terrace. He brought the five-month-old pooch in and played with him. When the roommate saw this, he threw the puppy back out onto the terrace and admonished my son that the little dog, Luke, was never to leave the terrace, and never to be pet or interacted with.

My son realized that there was something wrong with his new roommate. He wanted to leave but also wanted to get this dog away from this situation. He reasoned that a bad confrontation would result in his having to leave without Luke and that the law would have been on the roommate’s side.

A few weeks later, after the building’s super threatened eviction, complaining that dog waste was falling onto the terraces below, the roommate agreed to give up the pup. My son brought the little fella to me.

At the time I had two dogs. Beenie was the pack “activities director” as she was always initiating games. Luke, having been isolated, had a lot of playtime to make up for and Beenie obliged him. She and Luke would wrestle until they fell asleep mid-tussle, wake up and then start wrestling again. They didn’t make any sounds besides their breathing, sort of a “heh, heh, heh” times two, continually. My son, who had temporarily moved back home, pleaded, “Mom make them stop!” because it went on all day long every day for the first week.

Sweet Luke, like most rescues coming out of a desperate situation, was very obliging and appreciative. He was also a great snuggler and slept on my bed with the rest of the pack. The odd thing about him was that he never stood still; instead, after having been confined to the small terrace, he always walked in small circles, even when leashed. We socialized him, did basic obedience and fattened him up. Luke smiled and wagged his tail all the time.

Every day I brought the dogs to the Washington Square dog run, where Mary and Turk met Luke. Mary had lost her other dog to old age and agreed to watch Luke while I was away for a weekend. When I returned, Mary called, asking, “Can I keep him?” And so Luke went to live with Mary and Turk.

Luke wanted so much to play with Turk. One day Luke picked up an empty plastic water bottle and kept walking in circles in front of Turk, hitting him in the face with the water bottle with each pass, over and over again. Suddenly, Turk growled and corrected Luke. It was a breakthrough, the first time Turk had done anything or even made a sound. Mary had saved Turk, providing kindness and safety, but it was Luke that brought Turk back. Under Mary’s care, Turk and Luke blossomed and they became a family. They were loved.

Pacifico is a fourth-generation Villager who loves dogs, nature and New York City.

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