Gina Samuel of Kenai had one of her worst fears come true when her miniature greyhound named Jenny got out and ran away while Samuel was unloading her car at her father's house two weeks ago.
"It happened over by Sears Elementary," explained Samuel. She was helping her other dog Daisy May an older Dalmatian that has trouble getting in and out of cars. Samuel also was holding the two dogs' play pal a rabbit named Lucky when Jenny decided to make a break for it.
"Jenny saw some kids walking by and she just loves kids, so she jumped out and ran after them," Samuel said.
By the time she put down Daisy May and Lucky, little Jenny was gone. To make matters worse, Jenny had on a velcro collar rather than the buckle type, and when she jumped out it fell off, leaving Jenny without identification tags.
"I started crying because I was worried about her. She's a house pet and so doesn't spend much time outside and she's so little. I was worried about her and eagles, and all kinds of things," Samuel said.
However, as distraught as she was, Samuel knew she had to spring into action if she ever wanted to see Jenny again. She recruited her whole family and they combed the neighborhood.
"Six people searched for her until midnight and we couldn't find her anywhere," Samuel said.
They packed it in for the night, but there wasn't much sleep to be had since worries about Jenny weighed heavy on Samuel and her family.
The next day, Samuel resumed her quest to find her beloved dog and her procedure was textbook.
She took clear and close-up photos of Jenny into a copy store and had 200 flyers made with all the pertinent information: Jenny's description and demeanor, where she was lost, who to contact if she was seen and that a reward was offered.
"We plastered Forest Drive with them, and we also made 15 big poster board signs and put them on all the corners," Samuel said.
She didn't stop there.
Samuel called and brought a photo of Jenny to the Kenai and Soldotna animal shelters to report her lost dog. She also visited every veterinary hospital in town in case someone brought Jenny there. She ran adds in the Peninsula Clarion.
She even called the local cab companies so they could keep an eye out, and called the local radio stations to get descriptions of the dog broadcast on Dog Gone News, Tradio and Sound Off.
Her hard work began to to pay off.
"We starting getting people calling the next morning saying they thought they saw her," Samuel said.
The calls kept coming in. Not just from people that had seen Jenny, either, but from people who had lost dogs themselves in the past, knew what it was like and offered any help they could in searching for Jenny.
However, Jenny continued to elude everyone searching for her and Samuel began to fear the worst.
"As the days went on I started thinking I wouldn't get her back," she said.
Finally, after what Samuel described as "the most horrible six days of my life," the call she had been waiting for came in. Jenny had been found by 12-year-old J.R. Reinhardt just three blocks away from where she ran away.
"It was wonderful to get her back," Samuel said. "I cried every day she was gone and so did Daisy May."
Jenny was found frolicking with Reinhardt's Jack Russell terrier named Rosy, which matched several calls Samuel had received by people claiming they had spotted Jenny running around with another small dog.
"As best as I can tell, Jenny would hang out with Rosy during the day, then bed down in the trees at night, because when we got her back she was covered in sap and dirt," Samuel said.
With Jenny back, Samuel took to the task of calling everyone she had notified about her lost dog to inform them that Jenny had been found and took down all the signs she put up two important tasks to remember when a pet is found, so valuable time and resources aren't wasted by concerned people who are willing to lend help.
The next thing she did was take Jenny to her regular veterinarian for a check up, and other than having lost three pounds while away a substantial percentage of body weight for a miniature greyhound Jenny was fine.
Although Samuel's story had a happy ending, she didn't forget how it all began.
"I bought Jenny a brand new collar for her tags that day, and I wouldn't suggest to anyone to buy the Velcro ones," she said.
Samuel is planning on having Jenny microchipped as well, but her veterinarian said Samuel should wait a few days so things can get back to normal for Jenny.
Also, not forgetting the little boy who found her dog, Samuel did her best to give the boy the $500 dollar reward she had offered to anyone finding Jenny.
"His mom and dad wouldn't let him take the money," Samuel said. "But that dog meant a lot to me and I though it was worth it, so I mailed him a thank you card with $100 dollars in it, and hopefully they'll let him keep that."
Samuel also is thankful for all the help and community support she received during Jenny's absence.
"I especially want to thank Rob, Shannon and J.R. Reinhardt; Charles Samuel; John, Sue, Johnny, Logan, Johna and Denise Coon; and Ray Zagorski," Samuel said.
Joseph Robertia is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. He has worked with wildlife and domestic animals for more than 10 years as a veterinary technician, a zoo keeper, and most recently as a zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He welcomes any pet-related questions or story ideas, but please none of a veterinary nature. Ideas and questions can be sent to his attention by e-mail at email@example.com.
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