April 23, 2014 —
A doctor’s appointment has me on a late morning train. As fate would have it, Amtrak has other ideas for us this day. A stalled train in the tunnel to Penn Station has our train rerouted to Hoboken, NJ, causing us to take the PATH train from Hoboken in order to get to midtown 34th Street. Not the end of the world, only a slight inconvenience for me, but not everyone shares my optimism. It is obvious from the look on the faces of the two men seated across from me on the PATH train that this has ruined their day.
The PATH train is not too crowded. As the doors begin to close, a young “hipster” plops down between the two gents and opens her computer to work on the ride. She needs an extra set of hands today since she has a cup of Starbucks in one hand and the leash of her yellow lab in the other. This is quickly resolved as the leash is dropped and one foot is pressed into service to hold it while the latté is set on the floor. While reading the newspaper I can’t help but notice the reaction of the two men to our new guest; both turn sharply to look the other way, very annoyed.
The lab is a bright-eyed pup, almost full grown. Her eyes are smiling as she looks around the train car as if she was looking for a friend. Pets are a rarity on the trains and are allowed if leashed or in a carrier. This well behaved pup is full of life; you can see it in her face and she is not content to just sit there. Before long she is checking out the man to the hipster’s left and starts inching slowly closer to him. A gentle nudge of her wet nose to the man’s hand has his attention. Instead of pulling his hand away from the cold-nosed interrupter, he begins to pet the pup behind her ear. Then the change of attitude comes to this grump. Before long both the pup and grump are smiling and getting along famously.
Two stations later he is gone with the smile still on his face and the pup lets out a small whimper and tries to follow. The “hipster” has barely looked up from the computer screen, which is giving a weird blue glow to her face. Our undaunted pup looks around for another new friend and spies the man sitting to her owner’s right. Once again the cold-nosed interrupter is working her charm and another stone face is melted into a broad smile as another friend is made.
Pulling into the 34th Street Station, I find myself smiling as well. As a pet owner, I know first-hand how they can turn your frown upside down. Before closing the paper I see the quote of the day: “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face,” or in today’s case, a cold wet nose.