OXFORD – Let's face it, it's not everyday that a teenage stranger goes out of their way to do a kind gesture; folks nowadays are typically more apt to grab their iPhone and begin filming when something goes awry rather than lend a helping hand to someone in need – but fortunately, every once in a while someone unexpected steps from the shadows and does something completely selfless.
Enter Oxford resident Tim Tiffany – and his 12 year old adopted Greyhound, Daisy.
A recent transplant from Norwich Township, Tiffany and his long-legged companion know few people in Oxford; but that was only temporary.
“Believe it or not, even a 12 year old greyhound can run very fast,” said Tiffany jokingly. “I was told when I adopted her from the rescue that no matter how much you trust your greyhound, you must never let them off lead outside a contained area. Once a former race dog realizes they're loose they panic, loose all judgement, and 99.9 percent of the time it ends in a tragedy,” he explained.
But even practicing caution can sometimes lead to an inadvertent problem. “I thought that I had them trained to go out to their exercise area, but due to a temporary lack of judgement, Daisy ended up free – and she took off,” said Tiffany.
As Daisy descended the driveway and started towards a busy Route 12, Tiffany prepared for the worst. “I mentally resigned myself to the fact this was probably going to be one of the worst days of my life,” he explained. “When I got to the end of my driveway she was already over a block away and turning down South Washington Ave.”
As Tiffany engaged in what he describes as a moot effort, he watched helplessly as Daisy disappeared from sight nearly four blocks away.
“At this point I figured I was never going to see her again ... alive anyway; I was thinking 'What would be worse – to find her dead in the road, or just never know what happened to her at all.’ Both outcomes seemed unbearable,” he said.
Facing the realization that it would be impossible to catch up with his dog afoot, Tiffany decided to go back to his home to get his car and continue his search efforts. As he turned back he encountered a thin teenager, Andrew Miller.
“(Miller) asked If I wanted help catching my dog and I told him I thought it was probably already too late,” Tiffany said. “I figured that Daisy was so far down the street that he would never be able to catch up to her.” But Miller insisted that run fast and that he could help, and off he went.
Tiffany, with the aid of his car, pursued the streets looking for his log dog and the friendly teenage kid wearing a red tee shirt. “I had no idea where they had gone,” said Tiffany. “It was at least 30 minutes since I last saw Daisy or the kid.”
While stopped at a traffic light Tiffany continued to scan the village, on the lookout for a boy in a red tee shirt when out of the corner of his eye Tiffany noticed a group of teenagers traveling north on So. Washington Ave.
“None had red tee shirts, so I didn’t really pay that much attention.” As Tiffany was about to pull away on of the group grabbed his attention – none other than Miller with no shirt.
“He had Daisy by her collar, I quickly pulled over, jumped out of the car in disbelief in awe that he had found and captured Daisy,” said Tiffany.
Miller explained that Daisy had jumped into the Chenango river, and that he jumped in after her, “She hopped right in and just sat down in the river,” said Miller.
Tiffany contacted the press and CSPCA immediately to inform the public of Miller's heroics.
“The community really is a key component in responsible pet ownership,” said CSPCA Executive Director Annette Clarke, “And when we see a community member – especially a young one such as Andrew – is very heartening to know that they care enough about the animals to go above and beyond. He potentially put his own life at risk here for the livelihood of an animal and a neighbor. He could have easily walked away, many others would have. He truly is a hero,” Clarke added.
“Not only is he a hero for saving Daisy, he also saved the shelter from absorbing inherent costs that are associated with strays and lost animals,” explained James Dunne, President of the CSPCA Board of Directors. “Daisy would have been found and taken in, the DCO would have brought her to the shelter. When pets are lost, it's often times very difficult for the pet and the owner to be reunited,” said Dunne, “In addition to trauma and stress that is placed upon the animal throughout the process.”
In addition to being presented the CSPCA's “Big Heart Award,” Miller also received a check fro $250 for his philanthropy, as well as earning “Student of the Month” recognition at Oxford High School. Funds were donated through a collection from CSPCA board members and CSPCA funds were not tapped.
“We felt that Andrew was worthy of a reward and so we took up a collection to make it happen,” said Clarke.
“I couldn’t even save my own dog...and when I couldn’t go any further, he took up the chase for me,” said Tiffany. “I'm indebted forever.”
Local business owner Bryant LaTourette at Rapid Reproductions donated the novelty check and indicated that as an Oxford resident and business owner, he was proud to have Miller as a neighbor and expressed gratitude for his good deed.
Miller summed up the situation by saying, “I was just trying to do the right thing, I was glad to help out.”