A valuable Yorkshire Terrier swiped from a Flatbush Avenue pet shop last month was returned safe and sound on Thursday after employees received a series of cryptic messages leading them to the 10-week-old puppy — a cuddly little pooch Puppy Paradise owner David Dietz has named “Brooklyn.”
“He’s a Brooklyn-based dog now,” an overjoyed Deitz said after finding the small dog cowering in a box at the Floridian Diner, right where the woman who cared for the $1,400 Yorkie for the past three weeks said he would be. “He has the experience of being dog-napped in Flatbush, so I think we’ll go with Brooklyn.”
Brooklyn is back where he belongs, but it wasn’t easy as the search for the prized pup morphed into a hostage drama and ended in a bizarre treasure hunt.
The two teens who were videotaped taking the dog on Feb. 16 were arrested last week, but Brooklyn was never found.
No one knew where Brooklyn was — or even if he was alive — until March 7, when pet shop employee Mary Weinstein received the first of two covert phone calls.
The woman on the other end of the line, who refused to identify herself, said she had the stolen puppy and would call back the next day with the dog’s location.
Store employees got the second call shortly after noon on Thursday.
“I don’t want any trouble,” the mystery caller told Dietz. “If you want the dog, go to East 87th Street and Farragut Road.”
“Who are you?” Dietz demanded — but the caller had already hung up.
Dietz, with this reporter in tow, raced over to Canarsie, where he found a note tacked to a tree. In the note, the caller explained that “a boy” had given her the puppy, which she left at the Floridian Diner — a few blocks from his store.
“This is fantastic,” said Dietz upon finding the note. “I can’t believe this is really happening.”
Dietz sped back to Flatbush Avenue, where diner employees had already found the puppy inside a cardboard box left atop the restaurant’s Claw vending machine.
“I have two Yorkies myself,” said restaurant owner Steve Zaharakas, who found the Yorkie. “The dog was shaking, a little scared.”
Diner employees said they saw Brooklyn’s mysterious caretaker: a woman in her late 20s wearing a headband and a black jacket came into the store around noon, put the box on top of the vending machine and made a call on a nearby pay phone.
“She was looking back and forth, trying to see if anybody was watching her and she mumbled into the phone,” said the diner’s hostess, Barbara Arniotis. “Then she sprinted out of the restaurant. She was really running.”
Dietz said Brooklyn appeared to be healthy, but took the puppy to the vet for a full checkup. Yorkshire Terriers need to be fed six-times a day. Without the proper diet, a young Yorkie can develop hyperglycemia, sickness, infection, and liver and kidney failure, Dietz said.
If Brooklyn is given a clean bill of health, Dietz, who once claimed his business could fold if he didn’t recover and sell Brooklyn, says he wants to find a good family for the adventurous pooch — at no charge.
“We don’t want to look like we were only interested in finding the dog to make a profit,” Dietz explained. “All we care about is making a good home for this dog and finding the right owner.”
Anyone interested in adopting Brooklyn can contact Puppy Paradise at (718) 252-7877.Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cn