Through a pug’s near-tragedy has come inspiration and triumph.

I grew up with pets. From fish, gerbils and rabbits, to cats and dogs, I have had the pleasure of animal companionship for all but five years of my life. While I loved each and every one of those animals, Lenny is the one that has affected my life the most and has taught me that people are intrinsically good.

April 1, 2005…6 hours old

In April 2003, I moved into my first NYC apartment with my then boyfriend. We’ll call him M. I didn’t know anyone in the city other than M and I quickly realized how easy it was to feel alone in this city of 8 million.

It took two years of petitioning to convince our landlord to allow pets. We had done our homework and had chosen a dog that was well suited for apartment living. Compiling concise information about the breed and a detailed outline of how our new addition would be trained and cared for so as not to disrupt the neighbors nor damage the apartment, we presented our case. Miraculously, we were approved to bring a little ball of fur into our home and life!

Extensive planning went into Lenny’s arrival. A veterinarian, trainer and daycare center were chosen carefully. The ingredients in innumerable brands of kibble and treats were thoroughly researched. A selection of stimulating toys, plush pillows and snugly blankets found their way into the apartment. Vacations were taken at the precise time Lenny would arrive so his training could begin immediately. And a pet health insurance plan was purchased. That’s right. The pug would have health insurance even though I did not. Lenny was going to have the best life we could provide. Isn’t that every parent’s goal?

He had as perfect a life as any city dog could want — until Friday, November 11, 2005. On that day, I received a telephone call at work from M. There had been a horrible accident. The clasp on Lenny’s lead had failed and on the way home from their morning walk, Lenny had been struck by a car on the Westside Highway. They were at the hospital, but no information was immediately available. I went numb. Numerous telephone calls were made that day as I sat at work in New Jersey feeling more helpless than I had ever believed possible. That evening I rushed to the hospital, met with medical personnel and was eventually allowed to sit in a quiet room and hold my injured, heavily medicated pup.

Lenny in his “Super Lenny” cast!

The weeks that followed would be burned into my mind forever. Surgery. Splints. X-rays. Hourly calls to the hospital. Daily hospital visits. Tearful nights. M called his credit card company and requested an increase to cover the medical bills. I could focus only on Lenny’s health and my desire to have him home again. I shared my fears and anxieties with the NYC animal community via Meetup.com. One night, upon arriving at the hospital, the staff presented me with a card which had been dropped off earlier in the day. I opened the envelope to find Get Well wishes from members of Meetup.com HQ. I was speechless.

Eventually, the little pug did come home. He went through a series of colorful casts and endeared himself to the hospital staff — including two resident cats.

However, despite the emergency care and constant monitoring, Lenny had to endure one last surgery. I burst into tears upon running into a NYC Pug Meetup Group member in the hospital office that night. My adrenaline level was on overdrive and my heart felt like it would explode out of my chest as I waited in an exam room. Suddenly, I looked up and there stood my Lenny — minus one hind leg. He was as happy as ever. I called his name and he ran to me as I squatted on the floor. When I went to pay the last hospital bill the receptionist looked at me and said simply, “Dr. Siebert says, ‘Merry Christmas.'” It was going to be the most perfect holiday ever.

Over the next few weeks, I amazed at Lenny’s resilience. It was as if nothing had ever happened. The NYC animal community rallied around us with support of which I never dreamed. From bake sales to help pay Lenny’s medical bills to get well gifts and cards addressed to the little pug, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from a city that had not so long ago left me feeling so alone.

Happy tripod!

I had always been in love with New York City. Its evolution. Its facade. Its people. Its energy. Its challenges. No city in the world compares to NYC. And I was determined to thank the animal loving community for the care and compassion they had shown us. We were inspired!

Annual fundraisers, volunteer work, donations. Lenny and I did everything we could to show the city how thankful we were; and we continue to do everything we are able to remind the people and animals of this great city that they are not alone.

And that, my friends, is how it all began.

We eventually became the poster children for Jet Blue‘s pet friendly airline (10/06). Animal Haven Shelter presented us with the Florence Brenner Award honoring our commitment to helping homeless animals, alongside Lynn Redgrave. Ladies’ Home Journal published an article about us in September 2009. And now we proudly commit to donate a portion of our company’s profits to Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals organizations.

Is your no-kill animal shelter or rescue organization holding a fundraiser? We want to help! Please email us.

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