If you’re not a dog person you can stop reading now. This is a story about a young couple I met recently at the dog run that Buffy and I go to in our neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. The story is true but the names have been changed to protect the dogs and their owners. I’ve reconfirmed the facts of the story with the couple who now laugh about the whole thing. I asked them if I could share their odd tale and they said “yes.” For the record, I don’t endorse anything in their story. I’m just the messenger.
These events took place in the Spring of 2012. Calvin was 28 and had (and still has) a wire haired terrier named Moses. Leila was 26 and owned (and still owns) an English bulldog named Buddy. Leila loved Buddy, who was still a puppy, more than anything in the world. Buddy was Leila’s first dog and she was proud of being what she called “a good mom.” Calvin had a big crush on Leila. They talked a few times a week at the dog run but Leila never showed any interest in Calvin. (Leila, for the record, is quite attractive and Calvin is just so-so but is a great guy.)
One day Leila told Calvin that she was taking Buddy to a veterinary specialist in mid-town because she had found blood in Buddy’s stool. She was quite upset and, to make matters worse, she had to wait two days for the appointment because the vet was very much in demand. The day before the appointment, Leila was told she had to fly to Chicago for work–she works for an investment bank – and she couldn’t get out of it. Calvin, who works for a start-up social media network in Tribeca, offered to take Buddy to the specialist. Leila was very grateful and said she’d make Calvin a nice dinner when she got back to thank him.
On the day of the appointment, Calvin showed up at the vet and the receptionist asked if he had brought along Buddy’s stool sample. Calvin had not, even though Leila wrote this down for him and also e-mailed to remind him that morning. At a loss, Calvin told the receptionist that the sample was downstairs in his car even though he didn’t own a car. He left the office with Buddy and tried to get Buddy to do his business but Buddy was okay and didn’t have to go. Calvin wasn’t sure what to do and he began to get very anxious.
Now, here I should mention that Calvin has suffered panic attacks since he was a child and has been on various meds for many years to help him manage these attacks. With treatment, Calvin had not had a panic attack for years but, on this day, outside the vet’s office, Calvin had a serious panic attack. He felt personally responsible for Buddy’s welfare and he knew he was not doing a good job and so, well, he panicked. Not thinking clearly, Calvin then made a very poor decision: He went to Starbucks, asked for a grande-sized cup, went into the restroom and provided a stool sample of his own to give to the vet. Buddy the bulldog waited outside tied to a parking meter, oblivious.
Calvin delivered the Starbucks cup (with a lid) to the receptionist. The specialist told Calvin that blood in a dog’s stool could mean anything from an upset stomach to a variety of types of cancer. Calvin nodded understandingly. The specialist took Buddy away to get blood drawn and to undergo a battery of other doggie tests. Calvin waited.
When Leila returned from Chicago she made tilapia in a paper bag for Calvin and they enjoyed a nice evening together in her apartment though there was no romance. Leila was simply grateful that Calvin had taken Buddy to the vet and she now waited nervously for the test results. Calvin tried a few times to tell Leila what had happened with the stool sample but he couldn’t muster the courage.
Two days later, Calvin arrived at the dog run to find Leila in tears. The tests came back normal except for Buddy’s stool which the specialist described as “concerning.” He told Leila that Buddy had certain toxins and parasites that are typically found only in humans. This could be indicative of some sort of immune disorder and further tests would be needed to determine the specifics. These new tests were scheduled for later in the week. Leila was beside herself with worry and Calvin again tried to confess what he had done but he was just too embarrassed to do so.
That night, Calvin went online and did some research into holistic pet medicine, an area that he knew Leila has been very curious about. He discovered a recipe that is used quite often in Brazil and Chile to treat dogs with immune disorders. He invited Leila to go to Whole Foods with him to pick up some ingredients including things like lentils, Echinacea, coffee, aloe, fish oil and cardamom. Leila was willing to try anything that might help Buddy. That night Calvin and Leila prepared a pot of South American “dog stew” and offered it to Buddy who happily ate it all up.
The next day, Leila took Buddy back to the specialist with a new stool sample. The specialist took more blood and ran more tests. These lasted a full day. Leila was very worried but she kept herself together. A few days later, the test results came back and the specialist called and told Leila that Buddy was in great health. Buddy’s tests all came back normal and there wasn’t even a sign of blood in his stool. Buddy, he told her, has had “a miraculous turnaround.” Leila was thrilled and, that night, she invited Calvin over to celebrate with a bottle of Proseco.
Leila thanked Calvin for the stew that “maybe saved Buddy’s life.” They ordered some sushi and Leila invited Calvin to spend the night. He did. The next morning, Calvin woke up to find that Leila was gone. A few minutes later, she returned with bagels, cream cheese and, yes, Starbucks.
Later that day, Calvin finally came clean about his panic attack and the stool sample. After a long, solitary walk with Buddy along the promenade, Leila decided to forgive Calvin. The two have been together for 13 months and last week he proposed to her in the dog run. She said “yes.”