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Lost Dog

By Amy Fernandez

You see the sign or message… Lost dog. Anyone reading this story appreciates the magnitude of that catastrophe and the unbridled relief of a happy, safe reunion.

No need to rerun the matchless mental/emotional roles dogs play in our lives when times are tough. Lose your job, your health, your significant partner… So, how about losing your home? Awful, but we’ve all seen homeless people with a dog in tow.

So here’s what happened last Friday down at the Weis Market in Troud Township, PA.

Wayne Smith and his nine-year-old canine sidekick “Buddy” have logged in a lotta years and miles together. Since relocating from Florida they have become a familiar sight in the neighborhood as has Smith’s grocery shopping routine, which commenced as usual that fateful afternoon. Like every other day, he left Buddy sitting on his blanket tethered to a trashcan while he did their shopping.

He was first alerted to Buddy’s disappearance when another shopper noticed him in the store but hadn’t noticed Buddy outside. According to store manager Phil Sawyer, since the pair pitched their tent behind a nearby department store Buddy has become something of a local celebrity among his customers who often purchase food, toys, and treats for him when they come shopping.

Most police departments don’t take kindly to 911 calls about missing dogs, which in this case flooded in from both customer and employee members of Buddy’s fan club. Police arrived to find an impressively coordinated community response underway headed by Sawyer who was already scanning store surveillance tapes and interviewing possible witnesses to the abduction.

His investigation soon ID’d the culprit as an elderly woman who had made it her business to rehome Buddy in a more suitable situation. Arguably, Buddy’s would-be rescuer had only his welfare at heart. Unfortunately, Buddy didn’t share that view. Instead of gratitude, he reacted like most kidnapped dogs; his instinctive canine self-preservation switch hit autopilot. By the time police arrived on the scene, his well-meaning abductor was facing off with a Cujo-style hostage. No one was able to corral berserko Buddy until Smith was fetched to calm him down.

As Smith later told reporters, the eight-hour ordeal was the first time they’d been separated during their nine year partnership. He said, “We’re a package deal. I wouldn’t have stopped searching for him. There would be a piece missing of me if I didn’t get him back.” Smith was also quoted explaining that their homeless plight was precipitated by their landlord’s recently implemented ‘no dog’ policy.

The contentious adventure may have had a silver lining. The resultant publicity led to a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000 to help Buddy and Smith quit cold Pennsylvania and return to balmy Florida proving once again that people do take care of their own.

So, to change the subject, it’s actually been quite a newsy lost dog week in the Poconos.

A far more remarkable incident unfolded last Tuesday in Bowmanstown, about 80 miles north of Philadelphia, when Filipe Rodriguez, a healthcare executive from Chicago let his sister’s four dogs out for an afternoon backyard run. His otherwise uneventful Christmas visit took an alarming turn when a predatory eagle spotted Zoey, the seven-year-old Bichon member of that pack, and thought she would be a perfect afternoon snack.

Raptor predation is a familiar small dog hazard in some parts of the country. However, it’s not that common in eastern Pennsylvania. But as Laurie Goodrich, a biologist at nearby Hawk Mountain Sanctuary noted for the AP, migrating birds generally become more desperate and daring this time of year as small prey gets scarce along with possibilities of grabbing fish from frozen rivers. And as it turned out, the picturesque bank of the Lehigh River was precisely the scene of this crime.

Rodriguez admittedly and understandably thought he was hallucinating as he watched a giant bird swoop into the backyard, seize Zoey and gracefully glide over the treetops. After several fruitless hours driving around the neighborhood searching for her, he faced the unenviable task of breaking the news to his sister, Monica Newhard, when she arrived home.

The family scoured the woods, but naturally assumed the worst as night fell and temps plunged. But this story doesn’t end there. Unbeknownst to them, a few hours later that afternoon another local resident, Christina Hartman, was on her way home from work about five miles away when she spotted a strange furry object struggling in a snow bank.

In contrast to Buddy who was wearing two coats and wrapped in a blanket when he was abducted, Zoey truly was on verge of freezing to death where she had apparently crash-landed after being dropped by the eagle. According to Hartman, the dog was limping and bleeding and had a coat full of iceballs but she soon responded to some hot chicken soup. A quick look at Facebook took her to Newland’s lost dog posts and prompted a Wednesday morning phone call that qualified as a miracle by any standard. Although Zoey is on the mend, she understandably expressed some reluctance to venture into the backyard again

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Posted by on Jan 9 2018. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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  • January 2019