Just four months after moving from Sydney, Australia, to Bushwick, Brooklyn, Jo Jarvis had a major “only in New York” moment.
Last week, Jarvis was in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, about to catch a cab to go to dinner, when a man carrying something in a long coat approached her. He opened his jacket to reveal a small dog.
“He said ‘Would you like to buy a dog? For $100, I will give you my dog,’ “ Jarvis tells PEOPLE. “I was a bit concerned that this guy was on the street trying to sell a dog. I said to him, ‘Is this some sort of scam? Have you stolen the dog?’ “
The man, who introduced himself as Jose, explained that he wasn’t trying to scam anyone, he was trying to find a home for his Yorkshire terrier Tiny before being reporting for a sentence at New York’s Riker’s Island prison. A dog lover, Jarvis offered Jose an emergency plan.
“I gave him my telephone number and said, ‘If you can’t get someone to take your dog tonight, call me tomorrow and we’ll talk.’ “
The following afternoon, she received a call from Jose, who still had no one to care for Tiny. Jarvis agreed to take the dog in on two conditions: 1. Jose would bring Tiny to her Brooklyn apartment; and 2. He would hand the dog over for free.
“To me, that tested his sincerity,” Jarvis, who works as a freelance writer and meditation instructor, explains. “And he was absolutely willing to do that. So he came to my apartment in Brooklyn.”
Jarvis admits she experienced a slight moment of panic while staring at the soon-to-be inmate standing in her kitchen, but it quickly melted away.
“He was a very nice man and I could see his devotion and love for the dog,” she says. “He was very tender with her. He was quite concerned she was going to a good home.”
Talking to Jose, Jarvis found out he was heading to jail for a two-to-three-month sentence and — while he admitted to being incarcerated prior to this — he was planning on making this trip to Riker’s his last.
“Whether it is or it isn’t, he’s human and he is trying to make a go of it, so I would like to help him,” Jarvis says.
Jarvis agreed to care for Tiny while Jose completes his sentence. Before Jose left, he asked Jarvis if he could call to check in on Tiny after he gets out.
“I told him, ‘Jose, you can have her back. She is your dog,” Jarvis recounts.
Even with this promise, Jose didn’t make any definite plans to pick up Tiny after his release, or offer Jarvis information on how to keep in touch with him during his sentence.
“There was no deal, so I don’t know if I have her for three months or forever,” Jarvis says about her new pet.
Jarvis hopes the attention Tiny’s story is getting will lead to some details about who Jose is, so she can contact him at Rikers, and ultimately set up Skype visitations sessions so he can interact with Tiny.
Currently, Tiny is doing “really great.” Shortly after arriving at Jarvis apartment, the Yorkie was taken to the vet, where she was brought up to date on her shots and given a clean bill of health. Per the vet’s recommendation, Jarvis plans to have Tiny neutered and taken in for a teeth cleaning in the near future.
Until then she is enjoying life in her new Brooklyn digs, quickly warming up to Jarvis — and the amount Jarvis feeds her.[facebook url="https://www.facebook.com/jo.jarvis.796/videos/1683171875259488/" /]
“She came to me and she was thin, but now she is filling out. She loves to eat,” Tiny’s new mom says. “In the beginning, she was very shy, but now she is by my ankles the entire time.”
Jarvis is keeping those curious about Tiny updated with Facebook post and videos of the pup running, resting and, of course, eating.