I can’t exactly say I remember when he first walked into our lives. But, I do remember it only took about three seconds to realize this puppy was meant to be part of our family. I’m guessing someone brought him to us. Or, we found him in a Christmas box at a shopping mall. The details are foggy. It was 1972 or 1973. We lived on Staten Island about a mile from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. It was a two family house just across from a gypsum factory. As long as you kept the windows closed, it was a lovely neighborhood.
The puppy was about 3 lbs. Soaking wet. A Jack Russell. Cute … beyond words. Spunky. Playful, funny and adorable. He stole your heart the minute you met him. We named him Noah. Our funny friend, Andrea said he needed a last name. So, re-named him Noah Zark.
At the time he joined our family we both had pretty busy lives. I had a full time job at an Arts Council and Mary Anne was working nights as a Registered Nurse. His first few months with us were fun. He loved to play and loved to be with us. But, as he grew he demonstrated his need to chew. Actually, Noah had an insatiable need to chew. And, so the destruction began. First it was the corner of a door. And then it was any pair of shoes he could find. And, then it was Mary Anne’s favorite expensive Italian shoes. And, then it was the couch. It would have been smart if we bought him a bag of bones. But, the thought never crossed our minds.
Yet, something needed to change or the entire contents of our apartment could have been sold as stuffing for a stuffed animal factory. And, so I decided he needed to go out .. on his own .. to burn off some of that puppy energy. Once I decided this was the plan, I took Noah outside and let him go. A few hours later he returned. A little dirty .. a little tired .. but, happy to have a place to sleep and a meal to eat. So, I tried it again. And, again he returned in the same condition as the first time out. I don’t know how many days this scenario went on but it seemed to work for everyone’s needs.
Except, one day I came home from work and Noah was not to be found. I looked up and down the block and around the corner. I drove around the neighborhood calling out his name. No response. So, I went home hoping he would show up sometime later. And, the phone rang about 5:30PM. “Hello” “Hello, do you own a dog named Noah Zark?’ “Yes, I do.” “Well this is the Manager at the Staten Island Ferry. I have him in my office. We found him on the boat as it was about to leave the dock.” “Oh, man. Thank you. I’ll be over there in a jiffy.” When I came by to pick him up he was happy as a clam (or, as happy as a clam can be).
So, come morning .. the old routine began anew. And, off Noah went to wherever made him happy. Dogs, as I was later to learn, are creatures of habits. If they find a place to play they return to the scene of the crime. Little did I know that Noah soon returned to the auto loading platform of the Staten Island Ferry. Apparently, the gates closed and off it went onto the big city called. Manhattan Island.
I returned from work that day. And, again Noah was nowhere to be found. And, again I looked all over the neighborhood. And, again I returned home and the phone rang. “Hello?” Yes, Hello.” “Do you have a dog named, Noah Zark?” “Yes, I do.” “Well, I have him.” “Can you tell me where you are and I’ll come by to pick him up?’” “(long pause) I’m on Broad St.” “Oh, well I can be there in about 10 minutes I work near there on Staten Island.” “(long pause) Uh, mister .. I have your dog on Broad Street near Wall Street in Manhattan.” (deep breath saying to my self: “I can’t believe that stupid dog took a ride on the ferry.” “Oh, man .. you are so kind. I’ll jump in my van and meet you there as soon as I can get there. As I recall, it was about a 45 minute ride at full speed. And, there they were, a businessman in a suit and Noah Zark looking tired and haggard. “Thank you so much. What do I owe you?” ‘I bought him two hot dogs. You owe me 50 cents.” Clearly, the man really wanted to take Noah home with him but felt a responsibility to return him to his rightful owner. I thanked him and off we went from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Gowanus Expressway and over the Verrazano Bridge. Whew! What an adventure.
A day or two later I let him out again. Sadly, this time he ran out of luck. He was hit by a car and went to a place where doggies play forever. It was a very sad day for a very sweet spirited doggie. Rest In Peace, Noah Zark. I hope to see you again someday. Maybe we can ride the Ferry together and visit Chinatown or Little Italy. I hear the food is better in that part of town.