AuSABLE FORKS — A lost dog was reunited with its family in time for Christmas through the kindness of others and a coincidental field trip to an animal shelter.
Michelle Wesley was walking the family dog, Roxy, a 1-and-a-half-year-old boxer-hound mix, when the dog spotted a neighbor's cat, slipped her leash and bolted for the wooded area behind the Wesleys's residence.
"She's not usually a runner," Wesley said. Nevertheless, "she was determined to get that cat."
Roxy didn't return home, even as her family searched for her and called her for two hours that night and again the next day, Dec. 20.
Mrs. Wesley emailed Jay Community News Editor Trudy Rosenblum, telling her about the missing pup.
Rosenblum published a special noon edition of the email newsletter with the story and the Wesleys's contact information. Michelle also posted the information on her Facebook page.
"She was awesome" to publish a newsletter just on Roxy's account, Michelle said.
That evening at 5, the dog's picture appeared in the usual edition of the newsletter.
But for a second night, Wesley said, her children, Emily, 8, and Alex, 10, cried for their missing pet.
The next day, Shyloah Osteyee took her first-grade class at AuSable Forks Elementary on a field trip to Elmore SPCA in Peru. There, she spotted a dog that looked similar to the picture of the one she had seen in the Jay Community News.
A field-trip chaperone snapped a picture of the dog with her cell phone and sent it to Wesley.
Wesley wasn't sure if the dog was Roxy because it was difficult to see her through the pen's fencing.
"She wasn't very close to the fence because she was scared," Wesley said.
TRAVELED 22 MILES
When Wesley called the shelter, a volunteer explained that the dog had been found by an employee of Pasquales Pizzeria in Peru the same night Roxy went missing.
That person had brought the dog to her home for the night then dropped it off at Elmore SPCA the next day.
The pizza shop, however, is 22 miles from the Wesley home, a long way for a dog to travel.
But it was, in fact, Roxy.
To claim her, though, Wesley needed to produce the dog's license and rabies vaccine information.
By this time, it was about 2 p.m., and Carol Hackel, deputy clerk for the Town of Jay, was about to leave work and begin her holiday vacation.
Michelle quickly drove to the Jay Town Office in AuSable Forks and Supervisor's Clerk Susan Richards called Deputy Clerk Carol Hackel, who had just left work for her Christmas vacation. Hearing the story, she turned her car around and drove back to complete the necessary paperwork so the Wesleys could get their dog back that day. Richards helped retrieve the vaccine information, and Hackel took care of the dog license.
"I can't thank them enough," Wesley said. "They helped a great deal through Hurricane Irene, and this puts them even higher in my book," she said of Hackel and Richards, along with Town of Jay Supervisor Randall Douglas and other town employees.
Wesley, her husband, Henry, and the children were overjoyed when they were reunited with Roxy. At first, though, the dog behaved a little strangely, Mrs. Wesley said.
"She wasn't acting like herself. She wasn't acknowledging us."
The dog also wasn't wearing her collar.
"We still don't know how that happened," said Mrs. Wesley.
"But she's been fine since she's been home. She's happy."
Remarkably, after traveling so far in the bitter cold, Roxy was no worse for the wear.
"We got her a big stocking for Christmas, and she's been having a ball since," Mrs. Wesley said.
Emily wrote a letter thanking Rosenblum, Hackel, Richards and Osteyee and shared it with her third-grade class.
The students at AuSable Forks Elementary were enraptured with Roxy's story, Mrs. Wesley said.
"Everybody in the school knows the story.
"I can't even explain how awesome it was."