By SÍLE MOLONEY
A diverse community group comprising teenagers, adults, around 13 kids including a 3-year-old toddler, his grandparents, and a storeowner ensured there were happy smiles all around Bedford Park last week after they each worked in different ways to reunite a friendly lost husky called Kenzie with his rightful owners, but not before a few impromptu chases took place across Mosholu Parkway.
Nora Hamond told Norwood News that she was about to enter her building in the vicinity of East 201st Street near Marion Avenue on Wednesday afternoon, April 26, with her 3-year-old grandson, Javier Sierra Hamond, while her husband was parking the car, when another man came into the parking lot. “And so did this husky dog who was jumping up towards my grandson who was not a happy boy!” Hamond said.
“The dog was very friendly,” she continued. “Then I said, ‘You want to hold your dog?’ and the man said, ‘No, that’s your dog.’ I said, ‘No, that’s not my dog!’” It was then Hamond realized the dog had come to visit. She said she became concerned the dog, which she later found out was aged one and a half and male, might get hurt because he didn’t have a collar.
“So, I told my husband to take my grandson upstairs, and I went after him [Kenzie] because he ran out of the building, and I followed him to Mosholu Parkway,” Hamond said. She then lost sight of Kenzie and began asking people who told her the dog was headed towards Bainbridge Avenue and Briggs Avenue.
Meanwhile, a local mom, Yanil Morales, told Norwood News that on the same afternoon she was with her kids in Mosholu Parkway playground, located next to P.S. 8 on Mosholu Parkway South and Briggs Avenue, when she spotted the four-legged pet wander into the playground to the delight of all the kids present.
“There was a couple of people that walked in as well, so we thought the dog belonged to them,” Morales said. “First, I was a little skeptical because there’s a sign that says, ‘No Dogs Allowed,’ but this dog seemed friendly, like he was not aggressive towards the kids. He was just running around minding his business.”
Morales said, nonetheless, she grabbed her daughter as a safety precaution. She continued, “So, the dog keeps running up and down just looking for water. Now, I’m getting a little worried. I’m asking the person that walked in at the same time, ‘Hey, is this your dog?’ and they’re like, ‘No, we were wondering the same thing’.”
After asking everyone in the park if they owned the dog, Morales said it became apparent nobody did. She said she knew there was a gate in the playground that was usually shut in the evenings. “So, I tell the kids that are with me, because I have older kids as well, ‘Hey, go close the gate.’ My thing is I want to protect the dog. The dog is friendly. The dog is nice. I don’t want the dog to run out and get hit by a car.”
She said they closed the gate and were trying to catch hold of the dog who was still friendly but didn’t have any leash or a collar on, and people were still coming in and out, opening and closing the gate. It was around this time that Hamond, armed with some string, reached the playground. “Some teenagers there closed the gate and they had him under control,” Hamond said.
“Then when I went in, we talked and then the dog took off, skirted down the hill and out onto the traffic, across the street, and then was running up Mosholu Parkway [North],” Hamond said. “We were running after him, young people, myself…”
Morales said, “I was running after it with a friend of mine, a young boy that Miss Nora probably told you about, so then my next thing was what do I do, because she’s running away and she’s fast! She saw another dog, she wanted to play with that dog. She was not aggressive at all. So, I have this really long cardigan, so I think okay, let me take off my cardigan and try to use it as a leash.”
The group later arrived at East 204th street. Hamond then took up the story, saying, “The guy [storeowner] came out and we were all talking about the dog,” She added the others then said of the string, “No, that’s not going to work.” Hamond continued, “The teenager and an older lady [Morales], maybe 18, and the young man, they decided to buy a leash.”
Morales said the group went to the nearest 99 cents store but as they didn’t sell leashes there, they continued to a hardware store. “That’s when I got a leash and I got a collar, but she still swiveled herself out of it,” Morales said. “She knows how to get out of the collar and out of the leash, but we got her back in! Miss Nora called the police, and she wanted us to stay in front of the hardware store.”
However, Morales said she was trying to face in the same direction as Kenzie was moving because she knew if she didn’t, the dog would wriggle out of the collar and run away. She suggested they walk back to the playground where there was the gate. “So, that’s what we did,” Morales said. “We were there for like two hours. I called the cops and explained we moved from the hardware to the playground if you guys want to swing by and help me figure out what to do.”
Hamond added, “There were other kids there, they bought food, I called the police.” She explained she then had to go back home. “So, they said they would take care of feeding him until the police came, and there was water, and there were kids coming around saying, “No, I’ll go buy the food,” Hamond said.
At that point, Hamond exchanged numbers with Morales, who said the police didn’t show up in the end. She added, “So, there were other people saying, ‘Hey, we could just keep the dog, we could sell the dog,’ all these things and I’m like, okay, my mama bear instinct kicks in and I’m like, I need to protect this dog, and [it] needs to come back to his owner. I mean, it’s like losing a child!”
Morales continued, “All my friends have dogs; I don’t. I just have birds and I know that if they lose their dog, they want it back. No, I brought him upstairs to my house. I ran to the nearest store and I bought food, I bought bowls, and you know, treats. We got him toys. We got the whole bunch because I just wanted her to feel welcome. Yeah, next door neighbors pitched in with weewee pads and more toys, so everybody in this building just like…we put it in to help the dog.”
Later, Morales, who was also taking care of her sick daughter, said her friend suggested posting fliers in the area. “And then I’m like okay, but if we could put it on the streets, there has to be a place online that you can post about missing dogs, right? So, we started looking and that’s what we did.”
Morales said she later posted on several pet-related sites, including https://lost.petcolove.org/, www.pawboost.com, nextdoor.com, lostmydoggy.com and https://nycaccpets.shelterbuddy.com/. She added, “And then I made a Tik Tok because if you need to find anything or anyone, you have to post it on Tik Tok, and a lot of people were sharing!”
The Tik Tok post, which includes different photos of Kenzie’s day and musical accompaniment, read, “Tik Tok, do your thing and help me find her owner!! I found her in The Bronx, NYC. She is friendly and just a little puppy! Let’s find her parents #lostdog” [Kenzie is actually a male dog but this only came to light later.] Morales Tik Tok post garnered 60 likes. Meanwhile, back at her home, Hamond and her grandson got busy making a manual flier, which included a drawing of Kenzie by 3-year-old Javier, and posted the flier on a tree outside East 201st Street.
Morales said by 7 a.m., she had received several messages, including one via PawBoost from a woman who said she was Kenzie’s owner but didn’t know how to get in contact with Morales. The owner, who declined to be identified for this story, and who, Morales said, works a lot, had also checked PetcoLovelost, which Morales said allows users to message whoever posts about a lost pet and sent Morales her number.
Morales said the owner wrote, “I think it’s my dog. I can send you pictures.” She added, “So, she did,” saying the owner sent pictures of when Kenzie was a puppy, when he was older, photos with the owner’s 4-year-old son, and others of how he looks now. “I saw the dog has special marks, a white mark on her neck and she has white and brown fur with very beautiful blue eyes,” Morales said. “So, it was the same exact dog, and it was then she found out Kenzie’s name, later contacted Hamond to let her know.
Hamond said the owner had explained to Morales that she had been walking down the street with her small child, and Kenzie had taken off and they couldn’t catch up with him. She said the owner told Morales her son was very upset and had been crying during the night because the dog wasn’t there, and that’s when the owners started to look online for him.
Reflecting on the experience, Hamond said, “I always had dogs when we were really young, and I really felt sad for this dog because I felt that somebody would take it, or it would get hit by a car running in and out of traffic.”
The grandmother added, “This lady who lost the dog lived on Bedford Park and so the dog went from Bedford Park, running around in different places, but it became a neighborhood issue, and I was so pleased to see how there is a site, and how neighbors can communicate and help each other.”
Morales agreed, “It was beautiful! It literally warms my heart that there’s generous people out there. I know everybody’s trying to just tell me, ‘Oh, you did a great thing,’ but just to see the community come together…” Asked how many people were involved in the rescue, she estimates 15 to 20 and laughing, added, “The whole playground! Literally everybody in the playground…we all just wanted…yeah, the kids were going crazy with her!”
Acknowledging Kenzie could have ended up in a shelter, Morales concluded, “Everybody’s all so protective over the dog and we all just had the same goal, to get the dog back to its rightful owner and we got the dog home safe.”