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Pet Corner on 60th & Lex

November 20, 2011

Things I Love About NYC (Items excerpted from the to-be-published list, 1000 Things I Love about NYC)

#58 Vary the way you walk by one block north, south, east, or west and you will probably discover something amazing/shocking/surprising/disgusting that you had no idea would be there (even if you commute to work through that neighborhood every single weekday.)

#117 People figure out how to make money in curious and creative ways.

#190 Even New Yorkers love animals as much as everyone else.

As I exited from the 4 train at 59th & Lex today, as I do every Monday-Friday to go to work, I didn’t follow the shops down Lexington and then turn left on 55th, across from a church and passing 2 Starbucks and 2 Vegetarian Snackbars on my way.  Instead, I turned north and walked uptown one block, where I encountered the following scene on the busy southwest corner of 60th and Lexington:

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Look closely at the above image and you should see 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 guinea pigs.  Don’t be fooled by the 2 dogs in the center of the frame in front of the yellow birdcage–they are stuffed animals, and the birds in the cage are merely colorful wooden replicas of the real thing.  But the other animals are very much alive–although the 2 guinea pigs to the left of the birdcage move so infrequently that it took me a few moments of staring to ascertain whether they were stuffed or not.

I stopped in my tracks when I saw this display. So did almost everyone else who passed by.  Some people gathered to observe safely from a distance, while others boldly approached the animals and petted them.

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The strangest part of the scene was this: nowhere could I locate the owner, proprietor, or caretaker of the animals.  Yet none of the animals looked concerned or scared.  The guinea pigs lounged lazily in their Sunday robes.  The dogs cantered as long as their chain-link leashes would allow them, loudly greeting oncoming canines and straining to follow them.  The cats under the birdcage were the only ones who seemed slightly preoccupied at their situation, as if they were stranded on a high-up precipice with no escape route in sight.  They were fine for the moment, but should imminent danger present itself, they had nowhere to go–and they knew it.  (I know from experience that cats always think one step ahead and always want to have an escape route.)

On the other hand, the long-haired black cat perched to the right of the yellow birdcage looks regal, pristine, and serenely above it all.  I thought he was saying, “I own this town.”

In my perplexion I turned to a halted passerby next to me and asked him, “Who do the animals belong to?”

He replied, “There’s an old man that is always here with them.”

Sure enough, just a few moments later, the old man arrived.  It appears that he is not trying to sell the pets, just display them to earn more donations in their food bowls.  Not a bad idea.

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