Owner: Emilie, Pet’s Name: Holden
I got Holden in the fall of 2008, during the New York Film Festival. I had to be on the red carpet for the film “Happy-Go-Lucky” that evening, but in the middle of the afternoon I was standing at Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition (BARC) in Williamsburg, trying to coax a very shy but very cute terrier-poodle mix out of his cage. The staff at BARC told me that the dog’s previous owner had passed away and that the dog was too scared to stay in the enclosure with the other dogs, so he was alone in a cage in the corner. He nipped when anyone tried to put their hands in his cage to take him out, but his eyes stayed on me like he was desperate for me to earn his trust so he could be someone’s again.
I spent about thirty minutes coaxing him with treats and cooing, and finally he came out of the cage and I walked him around the block. He got scared at one point and slipped out of his collar. Without thinking that this was a dirty, matted dog who I knew was prone to nipping, I ran after him and scooped him up in my arms to make sure he didn’t run into traffic. What was amazing was that he let me. He clung to me and started tentatively licking my face. I hugged him and started sobbing—I realized he looked exactly like my old dog who I’d lost in my parents divorce and who I’d never allowed myself to think about.
I named him Holden because, like Holden Caulfield in “The Catcher in the Rye,” he so badly wanted to be loved but was so fearful. The name definitely fit him at first—he was so shy and hid under furniture. As he got used to us, he turned into an outgoing ball of energy so the name works less well now, though we mostly call him “Holdie,” which kind of works because he does love being held.
I barely made it to that red carpet and showed the star, actress Sally Hawkins, a million pictures of him. When she left NYC, she got me a gift and in the card wrote something to effect of “Take care of that doggy and he’ll take care of you,” which remains incredibly true.