Gimme some lovin’

UPS drivers make special connections with Lake Placid dogs

UPS driver Peter Baker spends time with Milo, a dog owned by Shannon Porter of Lake Placid. (Provided photo)

LAKE PLACID — Everyone’s barking over Peter Baker.

One of Lake Placid’s UPS delivery drivers, Baker is a dog person, and it shows. He went viral on the UPS Dogs Facebook page last week when North Elba Transfer Station Supervisor Shannon Porter posted a photo of him with her dog Milo, who was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Comments on the post also mentioned Baker’s fellow UPS driver in Lake Placid, Jeffrey Rock, as having a special bond with dogs along his route.

The post quickly gained attention from people all over the country and now has over 21,000 likes. Porter said the UPS Dogs page told her it was the second-most popular post the page ever had. The photo set shows Baker on the ground with Milo, both of them grinning as they strike different poses.

“I’m kind of popular across the town with the dogs obviously,” Baker said.

In the original post, Porter wrote that Baker made an effort to learn the name of every dog on his route, and despite his busy schedule he always made time to stop and give Milo “some lovens.”

UPS delivery driver Peter Baker runs to meet Cedar, right, and Greta with treats in both hands at Laura’s Custom Artworks on Sept. 21. (News photo — Lauren Yates)

Several other Lake Placid residents commented on the post, sharing their own stories about how hard Baker works to bring joy to their dogs’ days.

Mary Doucette commented, “He always brings a treat to Elsa as well! She is our handicapped pup, she barks a lot because she can’t run. Most people are nervous, but he always makes her feel loved.”

Baker said he is “100%” a dog person. When he was growing up, his family had a cat. He loved the cat, but he always wanted a dog. Now, he has an 11-year-old dog named Bonnie, and he said the part-pug, part-Jack Russell terrier is like family.

“I don’t have any kids, so she’s my kid,” he said.

Baker said Bonnie is “pretty chill,” and her favorite activities include eating and relaxing.

Cedar gives UPS delivery driver Peter Baker ear kisses at Laura’s Custom Artworks Tuesday, Sept. 21. (News photo — Lauren Yates)

Unlike Bonnie, Baker is running most days — to and from his UPS truck — but he still makes time to stop and pass out biscuits to the neighborhood dogs.

“He hustles,” Porter said.

She said that’s what makes Baker’s time with the dogs so special.

Baker lives in Peru, but he makes his way from the Plattsburgh UPS hub to Lake Placid for his route.

Diana Friedlander said Baker is the delivery driver for her office at Engel and Volkers and “he’s always running.” But Baker said the dogs fuel his day.

UPS driver Peter Baker was giving Greta, left, too much love at Laura’s Custom Artworks on Tuesday, Sept. 21, so Cedar had to make sure to get some too. (News photo — Lauren Yates)

His evolution from regular delivery guy to every dog’s favorite guy was a natural progression; he started handing out treats, and the dogs gradually came to expect them. Eventually, he learned the names of every dog. Now he said he has a camera roll full of the dogs through the stages of their lives, and he always shows up with biscuits ready to go.

Laura’s Custom Artwork owner Laura Walker said her dogs Cedar and Greta have their clocks set to Baker. When she was on vacation in Key West, she left the dogs at home with another family member.

When the dogs barked every afternoon at the same time, the family member contacted Walker to see if she was missing a feeding time, saying “they start going this time of day.” But they finally realized it was just Baker on his daily route. Even though the dogs couldn’t greet him outside, they gave an enthusiastic welcome to Baker through the window.

Special times with Milo

Baker said that greeting the dogs is a highlight of his job, but Milo was one dog he’d go see off the clock.

About a year ago, after beating cancer, Milo was diagnosed with geriatric laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy. Porter made the necessary lifestyle adjustments for Milo to help him get on top of his illness, but recently she found another mass on his body. She said it came on so quickly and it was so big that she knew Milo’s time was limited.

Milo had a hard time moving, but Porter said Milo’s ears would still perk up at the sound of Baker’s truck. Baker said Milo would get bursts of energy and run to him, and Porter said that as much as Milo loved her, he’d say “see you later” at the chance to see Baker.

“Milo can hear his truck from around the corner and heaven forbid it’s not Peter getting off the truck after his skip down the driveway,” Porter wrote in her original Facebook post.

Porter said Milo would accept no less than Baker; if a replacement driver climbed out of the truck after Milo wagged his way down the driveway, Porter said he would give her a disappointed look that said, “I struggled to get down here!”

Porter said other UPS drivers would bring Milo treats, but that’s not what he really wanted; she said Milo loved the companionship Baker provided. Milo didn’t even accept treats sometimes because he just wanted the “lovens.”

Baker said he started to stop by on his breaks to see Milo once he knew his condition was worsening.

Porter took the viral photos of Milo and Baker the morning of Sept. 10, and that afternoon Baker stopped by Milo’s again on his break. When he arrived, he saw Porter outside. He said he yelled from his door, “Holy crap, did you see the post on UPS Dogs?”

Baker said the post already had over 10,000 likes by that time. But then he noticed Milo was outside, too. Baker hopped out of his truck to greet Milo where he laid on the ground, and even though Milo couldn’t move much, his tail was still wagging while he got love and treats. That night, Porter told Baker it might be the last time he saw Milo. And after he got home from his shift, he received a text that read, “Milo’s gone.”

Baker said he’ll never forget the image of Milo resting his face in Porter’s hand as he left.

“I’ve always considered (the dogs on my route) my road dogs, but it’s actually like my road family,” he said. “I mean, I see them more than I see my own dog because I’m out here all day long. So yeah, they just grow on you. To lose Milo was really difficult for everybody.”

Baker left a comment on the UPS Dogs post before he learned of Milo’s passing: “Milo will always have a very special spot in my heart! I can’t imagine the day I pull up and he doesn’t come running out to see me! He is one very special and happy dog!”

Baker said Milo made him famous, but Milo’s special personality was well-loved in the Lake Placid community. Porter said he was a friendly dog who “didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” and he’d often greet neighbors so excitedly that she had to remind him to look both ways before crossing the street.

Porter said Milo was more than a “fur baby” — he was a child to her. And she treated him like one too; they even had a night time routine. Porter said Milo knew what “time for bed” meant, and when she told him to say his prayers he’d place his head in between his paws. Then, she’d cover him up with a blanket, give him a treat and say goodnight. She said those routines are what make life without Milo so difficult.

She taught Milo how to drink from the hose, how to army crawl to her military kids, and even how to use his inside voice, but Porter said he did more for her.

“It wasn’t the life I gave Milo; it’s the life he gave me,” she said.

Porter said she saw Baker on Tuesday, Sept. 21, and even though Milo wasn’t there to greet him, he still got out of the truck to ask Porter and her husband how they were doing.

Baker learned this week that his dog Bonnie has a patch of cancer. Porter said that even though their dogs have been through so much, she’s glad that they found supportive friends in each other.

UPS driver Jeffrey Rock said he also values the bonds he’s built with the families and pets he’s met through work; they make his difficult route worth driving. His dog Charlie died a couple of years ago, but he said the 20 or 30 dogs along his route keep him comforted with their wagging tails.