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My Pandemic-Inspired Down the Hall Friendship with Tamar and Mr. Gary

Mr. Gary (dog) and his owner

My co-op on 70th Street in New York is filled with dog lovers like myself. Our four-legged friends help humanize what can sometimes be a hard city. So when a new shareholder moved down the hall in February 2020, I was thrilled to learn she too had a dog. My rescue pups, Sophie and Bindy, would not be the only dogs on the floor.

The new resident and I met in the freight elevator. In my building, dogs are only allowed in the service elevator. That is where my two Chihuahuas and I first met Tamar, a lovely young woman, and her 15-year-old rescue, a ShiTzu terrier named Gary. Though there was a good forty-year age gap between us—her age was around 40, I was 80 when we met—we bonded over our mutual love for our dogs.

“Mr. Gary,” as I came to call him, was Tamar’s first and only dog. He had been with her from puppyhood and was now legally blind and a bit hard of hearing. Age was creeping up on him, but you’d be hard-pressed to recognize that unless you were told. Aside from being much pickier about his food, less interested in treats, napping quite a bit more these days, he still walked with confidence and marked his territory with glee. Mr. Gary is a character, and when Tamar brought him over for a visit—which she began to do more and more as the pandemic began to isolate all of us from our usual activities—he got along fine with my dogs. Essentially, they ignore each other. I also have a cat named Raina, who must be locked away when dogs visit. Well—any dogs but Mr. Gary. For some reason, she ignores him, and he doesn’t bother her. Read more