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Finding Kindness and Care on the Streets of New York City

In grief and heartbreak, there’s grace where grace is needed.

Edward and Gracie
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

Gracie and I decided a few days away from the house would be good for us after all that’s happened, so we loaded up the Jeep with a few things—Gracie’s special dog food prime among them, her preferred treats, her favorite toys, her thyroid pills, her itch pills, her vitamins, her fish oil supplement and her Dasuquin—and a couple of my things, and headed for the city. 

I was curious, even a little apprehensive, at how she would handle Manhattan after nearly four years away. She moved up to the Berkshires with Julee for the summer four years ago, and they never went back. I traveled back and forth. Gracie was three then. Now she’s seven. Had she turned completely into a country girl?

We traveled at night so things wouldn’t be so cacophonous on the streets. She easily recognized our parking garage and our building. Entering our apartment, she briefly looked for Julee but then seemed to remember. She removed some toys from her toy box, and we went to bed, Gracie assuming her old spot.

On our walk in the morning Gracie headed straight to the Dunkin’ Donuts shop around the corner and waited for me to open the door. But Dunkin’ Donuts had transmogrified into a wine shop.

“No more Munchkins,” I said to Gracie, giving her a sympathetic pat on the neck. We used to stop in almost every morning to buy a couple donuts for Julee and her sweet tooth. The counter people would always bestow a Munchkin on Gracie because she stood in line so politely and sat when it was her turn. 

But Gracie wasn’t having it today. She wanted to go through that door. So, I took her in so she could see for herself.

“We’re not actually open yet,” the proprietor said. 

“I know.” I explained the situation. We both agreed we’d never seen such a downhearted dog.

The rest of the walk was uneventful as Gracie reacquainted herself with city life. Later that day when I took Gracie out again, we passed the new wine shop, Gracie giving it a longing look. Suddenly I heard the owner calling and waving to us from the door. “Come in! Come in!” 

Immediately Gracie marched into the store and up to the counter. “I got some dog treats for her. Now she can stop in again like she used to.”

I gulped. “Thank you. Just one, please. I need to keep her weight down.”

I’m not sure what happened to me when I stepped out onto the bustling sidewalk, but I started to cry. Frankly I hadn’t cried much at all these past two weeks. But now I did, and I almost thought I wouldn’t stop. There is so much kindness in this world that is so full of contradictions and loss. And grace when grace is needed most.

Since it was New York City nobody paid much attention to a weeping man and his curious golden retriever, but I knew on a certain level they did care, which is why I love this city. I might have stood there for hours but Gracie rescued me by pulling me down Eighth Avenue. There was a dry cleaner who always had a treat for her.

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