3 TX rescue dogs—a dad and 2 pup sons—reunited in NYC by chance

It’s a hell of a tail.

Jason Hellerstein was walking Marvin, the dog that he and girlfriend Mattie Kahn had recently adopted, near their Upper West Side home in January when Marvin stopped to check out another pooch.

“Marvin was definitely friendlier than he would otherwise be with a dog he didn’t know,” said Kahn.

The other dog’s owner, Tara Derington, noticed the connection, too.

“They recognized each other. My dog, Leo, was still pretty new to the city and apprehensive about almost everything, and he greeted Marvin like he knew him. They were very excited, very affectionate,” Derington, who works in digital strategy, told The Post.

She asked Hellerstein what kind of dog Marvin is. But he didn’t know, as Marvin had been adopted from a Texas rescue only weeks before.

“I was freaking out,” said Derington, 30. “My brain was connecting the dots: This was Leo’s dad.”

She knew that Leo’s dad had been adopted by someone in New York City, because she had originally tried to claim that dog herself before adopting Leo in December.

Even crazier, Derington’s friend Anne Sachs had adopted Leo’s brother Murray — also Marvin’s son. The three dogs from Texas all now live within a mile of each other in New York City.

It all started when Kahn, 29 and the culture director at Glamour, and Hellerstein, 27, began looking for a dog in August. “Demand was so high in New York,” said Kahn. “So many people were getting pandemic dogs. Adopting right now is like trying to get a child into an elite prep school.”

The couple checked Petfinder.com, a site that sources rescues from across the country, “more than 100 times a day,” according to Kahn. That’s how they came across Dr. Dolittle’s Rescue Ranch in McAllen, Texas. The organization has been transporting dogs to New York weekly, especially “little scruffy fluffies, because they’re the perfect apartment dog,” said director Tammy Vergel de Dios.

“We fell in love with Marvin [in his photo] in an instant,” said Kahn.

According to Vergel de Dios, Marvin and Leo were surrendered together when their former owner exceeded the limit of dogs allowed by her apartment building. The two were transported in the same van from Texas to the Upper West Side in December. (Murray was surrendered to Dr. Dolittle’s  later.)

“We didn’t know that much,” Kahn said of Marvin. “Certainly not that he was a father of two.” As Marvin was just 10 months old when the puppies were conceived, “We joke that he’s a teenage father,” Derington added. (According to a DNA test, Leo and Murray’s mom is a Bichon Frise/poodle mix. Marvin is part Chihuahua and poodle.)

After meeting Hellerstein and exchanging phone numbers, Derington called her friend Sachs, a media-company chief content officer, who had adopted Murray a week before.
Dad and sons finally reunited last month at the dog run near the Museum of Natural History. “All three love to run around the dog park and chase each other, and I firmly believe that Marvin, as a parent, would never have a favorite,” said Kahn.

They were very excited, very affectionate.

Tara Derington on her dog recognizing his father on the street

Now father and sons hang together in their neighborhood and plan to attend the same day care. Marvin will be a guest at his boys’ first birthday party in June. The humans have benefited, too. All are first-time pup owners and share advice on a group text.

“There have been so many strokes of bad fortune over the past year, but this was a happy coincidence,” said Kahn. As she tweeted: “Is this not the most Upper West Side narrative you’ve ever heard? Marvin is basically a Nora Ephron character.”

Sachs said the dogs know they’re special, too. “They walk glued to each other, suctioned side by side. They’re sweet little pals. They were meant to be family, no matter how far they go.”

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