The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Retriever is retrieved
When Ellen and Robert Arnold stopped in Fredericksburg on their way home from South Carolina, they had to ask the manager at Quality Inn for an exception to the two-pet policy.
Unfortunately, they didn’t need it.
Shortly after the couple checked in about 10 p.m. on Oct. 18, Robert Arnold took two of the couple’s three golden retrievers for a walk.
Their leashes got tangled around a street sign. As Arnold untangled them, the metal sign rattled and 11-month-old Mulligan got spooked and bolted across State Route 3 east of Interstate 95, leash trailing behind him.
Ellen Arnold called the police while her husband looked for the dog.
He searched through the night and continued hunting the next day—a Saturday—while she contacted local shelters and the Fredericksburg Regional SPCA to make sure she covered all bases in trying to locate their beloved rescue pet.
The Arnolds, who live on seven acres in Foxboro, Mass., were returning home after two weeks in Bluffton, S.C., where they have a second home.
They took all three of their goldens: Bogey, 11; Bama, a 6-year-old they got from a rescue organization; and Mulligan, another rescue they got as a puppy.
Bama and Mulligan were on the walk together because—normally—they are inseparable.
Ellen Arnold said it was “agonizing” to leave Saturday evening without a member of the family, but she had to get home for work. The couple—Ellen is 52 and Robert 45—have had eight golden retrievers over the years.
She said the next several days were filled with tears as she feared the worst.
Mulligan had bolted to the north side of Route 3 near I–95 so she feared he could get hit by traffic. But, given his personality, she also figured he would seek shelter somewhere deep within the woods that run along the interstate and that his leash or collar could get snagged on something, leaving him stranded.
“I didn’t have much hope for him because of who he is,” Ellen Arnold said.
“He’s very hard to approach. He’s very, very skittish.”
TECHNOLOGY HOLDS KEY
But photos the Arnolds provided the local dog agencies before leaving Fredericksburg began paying dividends this past weekend.
One of the groups posted Mulligan’s picture on the Facebook page for Lost & Found Dogs–Virginia.
And on Saturday—eight days after the pooch disappeared—Kristina Brough spotted a golden retriever dragging a leash as she returned to her home in the Great Oaks subdivision, not far from the Quality Inn.
Brough snapped a photo before the dog ran off and posted it to Lost & Found Dogs–Virginia.
Soon people put two and two together and realized this was Mulligan and the hunt was on.
The community—online and in person—was consumed with the saga.
Brough did her part, trying to lure the dog by leaving a dish outside Saturday night with her husband’s leftover filet mignon.
Neighbors tried other inducements without success.
By Sunday, hundreds of people were following the saga on Facebook and about 60 showed up to search. They combed the neighborhood and tramped through nearby woods for hours.
“It was a great way to get to know your neighbors,” Brough discovered.
Sheri Kline and her 21-year-old son Jeremy were among the searchers Saturday and returned Sunday. They live in the Idlewild community and are animal lovers.
“If we see an animal that’s hurt or that looks lost, we always try to help,” she said.
Jeremy brought the skills he learned in bonding with dogs from his two years working at a local boarding and training kennel.
He admitted to doing everything against his training in trying to corral the scampering canine. But he was the one who finally succeeded. The second day of searching paid off.
“I’m glad I took the risk because he was a very good dog and I think we’ve all been touched by him finally getting home,” Jeremy said.
Robert Arnold said he was heading back to Fredericksburg last weekend before learning Mulligan was spotted, planning to resume the hunt himself.
When he realized that Facebook photo was his roaming Retriever, the trip took a turn for the better.
He brought Bama along for the reunion and the pair rejoined Mulligan at the Kline house early Monday morning.
Jeremy hadn’t let Mulligan out of his reach since capturing him Sunday evening.
The Klines brushed and fed the dog that evening and Jeremy kept him in his room overnight.
After reclaiming Mulligan, Arnold drove him and Bama back to Massachusetts on Monday to complete the journey.
“It’s been a very happy reunion with a nice big bath and lots of cuddles,” Ellen Arnold said shortly after her husband and dogs arrived.
She called Jeremy “an angel” for the determination he showed and was overwhelmed by the Fredericksburg community’s support.
“I’m so grateful for the people there,” she said. “I don’t believe how many people were responding, were searching. It was just amazing so many people cared.”
Robert Arnold was grateful for the technology that pulled the pieces together.
“I think the more people know about this networking the better,” he said. “It sure worked for us.”
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
FINDING YOUR PET
The Humane Society of the United States offers the following tips for finding a lost pet.
1. Contact local animal shelters and animal-control agencies. File a lost pet report with every shelter within a 60-mile radius of your home (or the place the pet was lost) and visit the nearest shelters daily, if possible.
Provide these agencies with an accurate description and a recent photograph of your pet. Notify the police if you believe your pet was stolen.
2. Search the neighborhood. Walk or drive through the neighborhood several times each day. Ask neighbors, letter carriers, and delivery people if they have seen your pet. Hand out a recent photograph of your pet and information on how you can be reached if your pet is found.
3. Advertise. Post notices at grocery stores, community centers, veterinary offices, traffic intersections, at pet supply stores, and other locations. Also, place advertisements in newspapers and with radio stations. Include your pet’s sex, age, weight, breed, color, and any special markings. Also, when describing your pet, leave out one identifying characteristic and ask the person who finds your pet to describe it.
4. Try the Internet. These sites may be able to help:
Center for Lost Pets
Facebook sites such as Lost & Found Dog–Virginia
Consider using a lost pet alert service such as findtoto.org to contact homes in your area.
5. Be wary of pet-recovery scams. When talking to a stranger who claims to have found your pet, ask him to describe the pet thoroughly before you offer any information. If he does not include the identifying characteristic you left out of the advertisements, he may not really have your pet. Be particularly wary of people who insist that you give or wire them money for the return of your pet.
6. Don’t give up your search. Animals that have been lost for months have been reunited with their owners.
A pet—even an indoor pet—has a better chance of being returned if it always wears a collar and an ID tag with the owner’s name, address, and telephone number. Ask your local animal shelter or veterinarian about microchipping your pet.