It was a rainy winter Wednesday in Shanghai. Ellen was in Beijing for a few days and I was home alone.
Late in the afternoon our driver and friend Ray Yang came to our door. In his arms, he had a tiny ball of fur. A little black and white puppy that weighed only a couple of pounds and couldn't be any more than 4-5 weeks old.
Ray had found the little guy cowering under a car on a busy rain soaked street the day before. He took him to a vet, got him shots and had him checked out. then, he took him to a local groomer for a full wash and dry. In a matter of hours, Ray had improved this little dog's life and looks 100%.
But, all was not well. Ray already had a dog and his wife didn't want another. He had gone to Ellen's office (who he also worked for) and tried, with no success, to give him away to any staff member.
Finally, not knowing quite what to do, he brought him to me. I certainly didn't want a dog in Shanghai but when Ray said he had no choice but to put him back on the street, I said, "no, we can't do that".
This tiny puppy had a big dog personality. He wasn't scared. he sure wasn't shy. He loved to play and he was, no doubt, as cute and feisty as a little dog could possibly be.
We had few options beyond being able to find him a good home. We thought we might be able to put him in a nice pet store that we had seen on Dagu Lu but would they take him?
So, for the time being, we took him in. By the time Ellen returned home Friday evening, he was as comfortable in our condo as if he had lived there for years.
For the next four weeks, we struggled with what to do but what we weren't doing was working very hard a t finding him a new home. checking pictures on the web, we thought he was at least a good part Shih Tzu, but cuter.
He loved to do full speed laps around the condo; under the dining room table, around the couch, into the bedroom, back up the long hallway and around the kitchen island and then, all over again. In three laps, he was exhausted.
A few days in, we named him. A Chinese name would be appropriate but I couldn't think of one that fit. But, he jumped around like noodles in a hot pan and so he got his name: Stir Fry. Most people couldn't believe we would call him that, some clearly didn't like it but, it fit and he seemed to like it too.
He liked to patrol our spacious condo and when we went out, we left him in one of our bathrooms. To let us know his displeasure, he chewed off the corner of a bathmat. I still have that mat today and every day I see it, I remember the littler chewer.
We experimented with puppy food, found dried pig's ears as chew toys and took him for short walks as he was so small, he didn't need long ones.
After three or four weeks, we had to make a decision. I had a dog years before, a big, lovable, slightly goofy Golden named Kelly. I had her for 13 years and wasn't all that keen to go through it again.
So this time, it was to be Ellen's dog and I left it to her whether Stir Fry would stay or go. Given our schedules, quarantine issues if we left, our constant travel and the idea of caring for a dog in Asia for the next 10 plus years, it didn't seem the right thing for us.
But, where to find him a great home in Shanghai?
One Friday night we had our friends Lorna and Abel over for dinner. Lorna was Ellen's biggest and most senior client.
She is not shy. One of the few people who entered our condo without knocking and always great fun to be around.
As she arrived, Stir Fry seemed to have a premonition. He sat at the end of our hallway watching the door and when it flew open, he did too, right into Lorna's arms. For drinks, appetizers, dinner and desert, he never left her lap.
On Saturday morning, she called: "Are you really going to give up Stir Fry?". Yes, we said with some hesitation. "Fine", she said, "I want a trial run. I'm sending my driver to pick him up and I'll bring him back on Sunday".
We had our first quiet night in weeks. As much as he was missed, we realized what an exceptional life he could have with Lorna; a CEO of a global company, living in a big house, in a compound with tons of green space. It seemed right.
On Sunday, Lorna called. "You're not getting him back", she said. And that was it.
We have seen Stir Fry many times since then. He is a big boy now, about 14 or 15 pounds. We even dog sat for a week where the little bugger escaped me and I had to chase him through the compound for an hour, blowing a hamstring in the process.
He is impeccably groomed and more than a little spoiled. He is very much Lorna's dog now. Due to his size, his thick glossy coat, and his rather haughty manner, he is not the little fur ball we knew for just a few weeks. But, he is so well taken care of and so loved, it is a better result than any of us could have ever wished for.
We have learned that Stir Fry and his family will be moving to New York in June to the Upper West Side and a whole new life as a Prince of Manhattan.
This is the story of Stir Fry, at least so far. What an incredible adventure for a 5 week old puppy; abandoned on a rainy Shanghai street, found cowering under a car and no double, not much of a future.
This little guy lived because so many people cared. Our friend Ray who didn't look the other way. Ellen and I who didn't either and, Lorna who gave him a future and a loving family.
It's impossibly hard to imagine that our little Stir Fry could have just as easily wound up in a wok as a Manhattan brownstone. It happens in China, especially at Chinese New Year where traditions of eating dog leads to thousands of strays, pets and dogs bred for eating, ending up on dining tables to increase the 'virility' of foolish old men.
Not our Stir Fry. He came to a much better end.
Hug your dog. Better yet, rescue one. We did.