One of the delights of life in a big city is the chance encounter. For Martha Teichner, one such interaction changed her life, and When Harry Met Minnie: A True Story of Love and Friendship is her heartfelt tribute to that singular experience.
Like many dog owners in Manhattan, Teichner—an Emmy-winning correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning” since 1993—likes to take her bull terrier, Minnie, to the Union Square farmers market. Also like many dog owners, she recognizes others’ canines but not always the humans holding the leash. And so, when a golden retriever named Teddy and a man named Stephen say hello, it takes her a moment to place the man and a moment more to process what he’s saying: His friend Carol is dying of cancer and needs to find a home for Harry the bull terrier. Would Martha be interested?
It’s a surprising, sad request but one the author relates to; she’s loved and lost several wonderful dogs and understands the anguish Carol must be feeling at not only her own declining health but also the possibility of Harry’s death if a new owner isn’t found. Teichner’s dog Goose has also recently died, and she’s been looking for another male bull terrier to keep Minnie company.
Although it feels fated that Harry will become hers, Teichner is worried: about Carol’s feelings, about her ability to properly care for Harry, about how mercurial Minnie will react. She agrees to see how they all feel about each other, with Stephen as chauffeur and aide. What follows is a sweet and poignant getting-to-know-you process. Day visits turn into trial sleepovers for the dogs as Teichner and Carol text each other about their humorous canine-dating dance. As the women become dear friends, ever aware of the time limit on their togetherness, they assiduously analyze Harry’s many quirks and medical needs and watch with a mix of delight and sorrow as the dogs become pals as well.
When Harry Met Minnie is often a heart-rending read—humans and animals suffer, die and grieve. It’s also studded with wry wit, meaningful musings on friendship and fascinating insights into the author’s and Carol’s lives and work. Teichner already has fans from her decades at CBS, but she’s sure to gain even more with this lovely, moving ode to the beauty and pain of loving our fellow creatures, whether human, canine or otherwise.