How could it be that after all these years he was confronted with this sight? His legs seemed to be frozen in place as he read the note again. Had he been guided to this very spot, as if by an angel?
He knew he had to do the right thing.
Two years ago, 28-year-old Milwaukee native Eric Maus moved to the Big Apple with Big Dreams. But sometimes life doesn’t play along, and one has to settle for a career that just pays the bills.
He rented a small apartment in Brooklyn and took a screenwriting job. As enjoyable as the work was, it didn’t give him any sense of fulfilment. How he wished he could be in an environment that fueled his passions…
Eric absolutely loved dogs. Since his childhood, he had always found comfort in the presence of his canine friends. He was known as “The Pied Piper” in his neighborhood, with the animals following him around everywhere.
To his utter delight, his mom one day took him to the pound to pick out a dog, and they became best mates – until one day it ran off after a rabbit and was never seen again. Eric still clearly remembers his mom pining for the dog for months. “Mama’s baby, where are you…” Would they ever find another?
As much as he cared about dogs, Eric couldn’t afford to keep one in Brooklyn, and in any case his apartment was way too small. The next best thing? Become a dog walker.
Now that was a job he could get excited about each day! And he was enjoying it so much that he wanted to become more professional and perhaps start a proper business soon. He would have to prove just how responsible he was.
One Monday morning, with his clients Lily and Gouda at his heels, Eric made his way to one of his favorite spots for walking, Prospect Park. It was such a lovely day that he decided to take the longer, more scenic route up to the waterfall.
But Lily and Gouda were full of energy that morning, and Eric soon found himself exhausted after the 10-mile walk and stopped for a rest. That’s when the two dogs suddenly became aware of another presence nearby.
Something was tied to a large tree. As Eric neared, the form revealed itself to be a chubby pit bull. Careful to keep the other two dogs at a safe distance, Eric called out a few times to an owner. Nothing.
‘Who would leave a dog tied to a tree in the middle of the park, with no food or water?’ Eric thought. His heart started aching for the poor animal. He looked around once more, but couldn’t see anyone. He looked down at the dog and asked, “Where’s your owner?” But all he got was a blank stare.
Right there and then Eric decided he had to help the pooch. The park wasn’t a safe place for a lonely dog. He went closer and saw that the pit bull had been tied to the tree with a chain.
Memories of his own dog flooded back, and for a minute Eric’s eyes glazed over with tears. Years ago he would’ve given anything to get his furry friend back. What person could just abandon their dog, tied to a tree?
Eric had prior experience with pit bulls and knew they could be temperamental – and even aggressive – at times, particularly when frightened or cornered. He’d have to be very careful when approaching.
But the dog seemed calm enough and wasn’t moving an inch, laying there with its tongue out. Was it sick? Was it in danger?
If the dog was ill, then Eric needed to act quickly. But would the dog trust him enough to help it? Would it want to be moved?
He didn’t want to put his clients Lily and Gouda in any danger, either. But the pit bull didn’t seem very bothered by their presence. So Eric took a chance and approached the dog slowly. And then couldn’t believe what he saw.
The pit bull looked so very much like his own dog from years ago! Those big, brown eyes staring up at him as if it had known Eric would come. That cute, familiar face imploring him to help.
So sweet and gentle, the pit bull seemed at ease in Eric’s presence – like they had known each other for years. It couldn’t possibly be the same dog, could it? Just as Eric was getting over his first shock, he looked up at the tree and saw the word “Mamas”.
Hanging from a low branch was a handwritten note: “Mamas. Take me home. I’m a great dog. I’m 7 years old. Don’t let my size scare you. I’m sweet.” Now Eric knew he’d somehow been sent along to aid this dog.
The owner had clearly needed help, but perhaps couldn’t afford any veterinary services. It was their last desperate act to leave the dog in the park in the hopes of someone coming to the rescue. But how was Eric going to save the pit bull?
Upon closer inspection, Eric could see the pit bull was urinating blood and was possibly dehydrated. It would need medical attention – and soon. There weren’t many joggers or walkers around in that section of the park at the moment. But Eric was determined to save the pit bull’s life.
The quickest way to alert people to a problem and seek help? Social media. “Found this dog tied to the tree near the boathouse in Prospect Park,” he typed in a Facebook post. And waited.
Soon he was getting responses. It seemed many other people were concerned about the poor pit bull’s health and safety. Elisa Flash was one of these. She replied to Eric within minutes and began reposting his appeal and making calls.
Elisa was the perfect person for the job. She was one of five editors of the Facebook page, “Lost and Found Pets in Brooklyn”, and was familiar with this type of situation. Would help be on the way soon?
A short while later, a guy met up with Eric and the pit bull, and called for a car outside the park to help them with transport to Sean Casey Animal Rescue, a shelter nearby in Windsor Terrace. In the car, Mamas – as Eric had assumed was the dog’s name – seemed to understand what was happening and even looked relieved.
Founder of the shelter, Sean Casey, examined the pit bull and pronounced it to be “incredibly lucky”. But would the dog be alright?
The pit bull was found to be a 6- or 7-year-old female in good health – other than having a bladder and ear infection, and being slightly obese. But all that would be taken care of.
Mamas became quite famous as her story spread on social media and the local news. Soon she was adopted by her new ‘mama’, Adrianne Wilcox, and taken to her new home. As for Eric, he was just glad he had been in the right place at the right time. Would he also adopt a dog? No, but Mamas did inspire him to write a screenplay about a Brooklyn pet detective…