2011-01-26 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Starting with the disclaimers “pet accidents happen” and “no dog is immune from getting lost”, the following is a dog lover’s nightmare. We are reaching out to everyone in south Amityville with the remote hope this missing Westie is safe with a good samaritan. I am really trying not to be judgmental (which is always hard for me) and merely presenting the facts as they were given:

Imagine being rushed to the emergency room. A friend who lives on a small island only accessible by rowboat kindly offers to care for your beloved dog while you are hospitalized; but unbeknownst to you, sometime during your five-day hospital stay, your dog disappears without a trace. You call each night from ICU and are assured your dog is fine. You don’t learn the horrible news until you go to pick up your pet.

After that, details are sparse; your friend stops answering your calls. You don’t drive. You are too ill to search or post flyers, and have no access to the tiny island where your dog was lost. You don’t even know precisely when or how your dog went missing. All you know is that the temperatures are frigid, the ice tenuous, and your furry best friend of seven years had never been away from home before, let alone adept at negotiating January bulkheads. Days have ticked away. His coat matches the snow. You fear the worst, and you are beside yourself.

Perhaps her friend was afraid the upsetting news would damage her recovery, but Dorothy, the owner was devastated to learn “ Tuffy,” her seven-year-old West Highland Terrier was missing on Friday, days after the fact. I got a call describing the heartbreak above on Sunday, and it is still Sunday as I type this. I knew no Westies entered the shelter last week. Outside of also filing a lost report with the Amityville police and a message on Craig’s List posted by her out-ofstate granddaughter, Dorothy was at her wits’ end about what to do next. I offered to make some phone calls and flyers, and to contact my Team Vivi pals because no one is better at tracking lost dogs. However, this “island,” a stone’s throw from Amityville’s infamous address, made for unique obstacles.

Last year, a mutual friend sent Dorothy to me when she wanted a kitten from Babylon Shelter. Like many Babylonians, I had often seen Dorothy walking her Westie around the Village. Actually, they were friendly fixtures. All the locals knew Dorothy and Tuffy.

When I called Chris (the shelter director) at home, I was surprised to hear that on Wednesday, a woman from the Amityville “island” had called about a missing Westie she had been petsitting, and then she visited the shelter later that day, quite distraught. Chris urged her to tell the owner what had transpired and also advised her to knock on doors or hand out flyers on Riverside and Ocean avenues in hopes that a wet Westie had turned up in their yard. He also made a follow-up call on Saturday.

This information confirming Wednesday’s events meant that by today-Sunday-Tuffy was already gone for at least four freezing days. After I tried to contact the petsitter or her son, I spoke to a sympathetic Amity police officer asking for help reaching the residents of both houses on the “island.” I explained about the Record “Pets” column, my connection to the shelter and Team Vivi. He called back saying he had contacted the petsitters to see if they would give us permission to visit the “island” to search.

Thankfully, I heard back from them, and appreciate their cooperation. Tomorrow morning I am scheduled to wander the small “island” with Eddie, Team Vivi’s dog tracker extraordinaire. You may remember Eddie’s persistence from the Beacon “Pets” Jan. 14, 2010 column about Teddy, the fugitive Newfie mix he tried to trap along Southern State in Massapequa. (The Teddy link is available at www.babylonbeacon.com; click “Archives”; click the date; click “Columnists”.) We also have two different Tuffy flyers ready to post as soon as I make color copies.

Tuffy may have been bewildered and searching for his owner. He had never stayed away from home without his Mom. Dorothy said when with her, Tuffy was not the type to run away. If she accidentally dropped his leash, he would just look at her quizzically. “You know your dog, you know your animal. I’ve had Tuffy since he’s 18 weeks old, and now he’s gone,” she lamented.

In the meantime, we ask Amityville residents for any leads about a Westie or any white dog. “ Tuffy” is a seven-year-old purebred West Highland Terrier, 21 pounds, last seen wearing a blue and brown collar without tags. He is microchipped. Please call 631-539-9044 or 631-661- 6164 with any sightings or ideas. We also ask you to send good vibes and pet prayers his way.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Two overlooked beauties are the poster pets this week. “Honey” #93674 a sweet Shepherd/Hound came in with her look-alike brother several months ago. He was adopted quickly but Honey still waits. “April” #20247 a darling tabby in the lobby is the longest feline resident, having entered the shelter last spring. She gets along well with other cats.

More Cats: “Ms. Kitty” #20369 –April’s tuxedo roommate; “Sylvia” #20561 a year old gray tabby in the lobby rabbit hutch; “Chablis” #20557-Maine Coon mix.

More Dogs: “Lola” #93770-Beagle; “Caroline” #93726- smooth Border Collie mix found at Belmont; “Dolly” #93799- gray Malti-Poo; “Johnny Cash” #93744- Shepherd mix; “Davy Bruno” #93520-representing the many patient Pits.

**Reminder: Last Hope’s “Catch of the Day” at Popei’s in Deer Park-Sun. Jan. 30 at 1 p.m.- luncheon/raffles to benefit the Fix-A-Feral program. Tickets- $45. Call 516-220-6695 or visit www.lasthopeanimalrescue.org.

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