I was a young mother living with my husband, my young son and my cat in New York City. When you live in New York City, since you cannot go out in the backyard, you take the baby’s stroller, put in all the things you might need (diapers, wipes, hats, sunscreen, juice etc.), and you load up the stroller and ride down the elevator from your high-rise apartment. You then stagger to the street pushing your heavy stroller as you slowly make your way to the park – or in my case, Central Park.
In Central Park, you go to the playground and sit with the other mothers (and the lone father or two) as all the children play.
One day, I decided to change my routine. I was tired of going to Central Park every day, so I decided to go to the area near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The day was just about perfect— sunny and warm.
I walked around the outside of the museum and found a perfect place where lots of people and dogs were playing and picnicking. It was on the side of the museum, at the top of a grassy hill that led down to 85th Street. From where we sat, we could look down the hill and watch all the cars along 85th Street or we could turn our eyes away and watch all the people. Either way was interesting for a fourteen-month-old boy and his mother.
I’ll never know exactly what happened. Did I look away for a moment after I unbuckled his seat belt. Did Jon see something that attracted him? In the space of a second, life can change; and somehow, suddenly, there was Jon running down the steep hill. I ran after him, vaguely aware that other people started running as well. He seemed to gain momentum and was hurtling down the hill so quickly, I knew I’d never be able to catch him. I also knew (as did the other people running with me) that if Jon couldn’t stop, he would plunge headlong into the street. There were no barriers to stop him. The cars kept driving and Jon just kept running toward them.
I remember how desperate I felt. I ran and ran, but I couldn’t reach him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, came a huge Golden Retriever running past me. He ran ahead of Jon and planted himself directly in front of Jon. My toddler careened into the dog and fell down. Jon cried, I cried, and the dog who had just saved his life stood quietly by. People surrounded us and cheered. I soon found the dog’s owner.
“Your dog saved my son,” I gasped. “Another few seconds and he would have landed in the street.”
“Kane is a good boy,” she answered.
“He is a hero,” I said as Jon cried even louder.
I never saw Kane again. I never learned if he was trained to do what he did or if his rescue instincts kicked in just then, or if he just wanted to play. All I knew was that I was profoundly grateful to the dog who saved my child.
People rarely think of New York City as a friendly place. But when the need arises, New Yorkers always come through. I never thanked all those people running with me to catch Jon. I never saw any of them again. So today, I want to thank them all, thank Kane and his owner, and thank God for the Miracle on 85th Street.
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Reprint (Representational photo by Rburtzel, CC)