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Family Thankful for Train Crew's Rescue of Dog

Coco returned home after riding to New York and back.

As the 8:47 train to New York City pulled into Short Hills Sunday night, the engineer saw the figure of an animal just out of reach of the headlights.

He inched the train forward to get a better look.

“I thought it might be a fox or a coyote,” engineer John Torres recalled. “But as we got closer I could see it was a dog.”

The dog just stood there on the tracks, shaking. Torres sounded the horn but the dog stayed put. After a moment, he radioed Conductor Stephen Pollock to tell him why they were stuck, then Pollock got off the train and walked down the tracks to the dog.

“You could tell she was out of her element,” Pollock said. “She was obviously well cared for.  She was someone’s pet, but didn’t have a collar on.”

Pollock briefly thought of leaving her at the station but then thought better of it.  He picked her up and carried her on board. 

“She was shaking with fear,” Pollock said. “I thought, if I just leave her out here, what’s to keep her from running off or getting hit by a train?”

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Kennedy Browne was frantically looking for her family’s dog, an 18-month-old French Pointer named Coco who had accidentally been let outside without her collar.

“We figured she chased after a rabbit or something,” she said.

After about an hour of looking around their Short Hills neighborhood, Browne called the Millburn Police Department in the hopes that someone may have reported seeing the dog.

The dispatcher told her the dog had indeed been found and was on her way to New York City.

“I was perplexed at how she could be on the train to New York, but so happy they had found her,” she told Patch. "The NJ Transit dispatcher told me what happened."

The idea that her dog had been found and was having quite the adventure was a big surprise, to say the least.

“My 9-year-old son, Oliver, was worried sick – we all were,” she said. “When I told him she was on the train to New York City, he was thrilled.”

While the family awaited Coco’s return at 10:56 Sunday night, Coco sat obediently on the seat where she’d been told to “stay.” 

The crew, including Pollock, Assistant Conductor Brandon Greene and ticket collectors Frank Fewkes and Jonathan Shaw, took turns caring for Coco. They snapped photos of her sitting on her seat on the train, in case they had to post on fliers around town when they returned.

Until getting word that the owner would meet them in Short Hills, the crew had been trying to figure out what to do with the dog after work.

Pollock said he thought about taking her home with him, but probably would not have been able to since he already had to leave his own Airedale, Scaggs, home alone too much.  Fewkes offered to take her to a no-kill shelter he knew of.  But everyone hoped that would not be necessary.

Needless to say, the novelty of a dog on the train enthralled some of the passengers, Greene said. “They were ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing,’ and some of them offered  to take her home, too.”

"She was just too good of a dog not to do something for her," Pollock said.

Coco and her family were happy to be reunited that night and the crew was relieved bring the dog home.

The family says Coco owes her life to the crew of the Midtown Direct of the Morris & Essex line.

“I am forever grateful," Browne said. "They could have just pulled her off the tracks and moved on, but they went the extra distance and made a difference.

“I’ve been riding the rails for 15 years, and I've complained about NJ Transit (even though I know that the delays are not their fault) but after this, I have a greater respect for the work they do,” she said. “I will never forget their kindness in saving Coco’s life.”

This holiday, she said, the Browne family is giving thanks for the crew of the Midtown Direct.

It appeared this week that Coco is too.

While at the station for a photo for Patch, a train pulled in, and Coco started wagging her tail.

“I think she’s ready to go back to New York City,” Browne said.

Linda Federico-O'Murchu November 23, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Such a great story, Laura!
Anne November 23, 2011 at 06:37 PM
very heart warming!
MillerTime November 23, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Coco and the Conductor. Sounds like a children's book.
Classy Karat November 23, 2011 at 09:40 PM
GREAT STORY!!
Laura Griffin November 23, 2011 at 10:52 PM
That's what my kids said, too! It really does.
Lauren November 23, 2011 at 11:19 PM
My dog Rowling is Coco's mother, so I know that crazy dog well. I'm soooo glad she is home safe now! Thanks for saving her.
lauren koppel November 23, 2011 at 11:56 PM
That is such a great story! Always nice to hear about the good people out there!
Wilma Velazquez November 24, 2011 at 12:05 PM
I am so happy about Coco's reunion with the family. This is a perfect example to be thankful for kind and compassionate people. The train staff are an exemplary example that good people do exist. I live in Short Hills and I have a service dog. if he ever got lost I hope people will remember Coco's story: kindness and compassion. We need more of that. Happy "Thanks"giving to all.
Scott Egelberg November 24, 2011 at 12:08 PM
I really love this story. So great to see Coco reunited with his family.
Jerseygirl November 24, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Good idea! A story with a happy ending for a change. Peace Miller Time!
Linda Hardy November 24, 2011 at 05:24 PM
Wonderful story!
Abbey Road November 25, 2011 at 04:27 AM
Yes, great story! I am going to bookmark it and read it every time the political nasty nuttiness - local, state and federal - gears up on Patch. Kind and heartwarming stories are needed more often. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving neighbors!
msh November 27, 2011 at 09:07 PM
goose bumps! What a beautiful dog and very special story!

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