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Neighbors, friends, social media help woman reunite with her precious pooch, Murdoch

Courtesy Photo Jan and Murdoch at the point of rescue.

Community is something to celebrate, whether you are talking about the Ossineke community, the Alpena County community, the Alcona County community, the pet-lovers’ community, the Facebook community, or the faith community. They are all a part of this story.

Last week an older couple was in Ossineke behind the Sanborn Township Hall, using the recycling bin. Unbeknownst to them, their fluffy, black, 20-pound house dog jumped out of their van. Since he is such a good traveler neither of them noticed that he had “escaped.” They had some errands to run in Harrisville and stopped at Chippewa Point on their way home. When Tom went into the store, Jan checked on the dog in the back seat … no Murdoch. She got out of the van and opened the back door … no Murdoch. She contacted the Harrisville location where they had been … no Murdoch.

When they returned to the recycling site and the dog wasn’t there, the couple went to the nearby ACE hardware store. Some of the employees had seen him; he had been sitting by the Sanborn dumpster for 45 minutes, waiting. A UPS driver and two employees of the store went over to coax him to them, but he ran away down Sanborn Road, through the woods to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. There, another small group of people approached him, recognizing that a dog with a cute red harness on him must be lost. Again he ran … this time into the woods to hide. Apparently when they left the area, Murdoch crossed US-23! Seriously? This dog is a house dog who lives on a single-lane dirt road!

By this time there were postings on Facebook. The couple was driving around the subdivision, asking those they met if they had seen the lost dog. Residents of the subdivision joined in the search. The children in the neighborhood got on their bikes and started to look for him. Someone posted the sighting at DeRocher’s on Facebook.

Hubbard Lake neighbors were notified and came over to Ossineke to join in the search. By 7 p.m., it was put on hold. Jan returned with a bed which she left at the recycling site, and waited until after 9 p.m., when darkness fell.

That night the couple made a quarter-page flyer. On Friday, they notified the veterinarians in Alpena and Alcona, and animal shelters in both counties, as well. They returned to Ossineke and started distributing the flyers, driving into Alpena to leave some at the vet clinics. By this time, many people had heard about the missing dog, and more Facebook postings were being put up, but no further sightings. Their last poster went up at the Ossineke Post Office. Then the couple went home, hoping that they had done enough to bring him home. They had not even driven seven minutes when their cell phone rang, a customer had just come into the post office and said that she had seen Murdoch in her backyard on River Road, Thursday evening at about 6 o’clock.

That evening, a plan emerged: visit every house on River Road, Minton, and Park with flyers. Two of their neighbors took Park, two took River, they covered Minton, all connected with cell phones. Diane and Sally were on River and decided to start at the end of the street; it turned out to be the home of the woman who had been at the post office! They asked if they could look in her wooded area and Diane thought she saw something. The homeowner thought it was a stump, but got her binoculars to double check…it was Murdoch, curled up in a ball, down the hill, by the river.

Sally and Diane called Murdoch’s owners on the phone, and they responded immediately. When she got to the embankment, Jan began walking slowly down the hill, talking to Murdoch the whole time, using the names and words that she usually did with him; calling him all of the endearing terms that she thought she might never get to use again. He didn’t move, but his eyes were transfixed on her. When she was within six feet of him, Murdoch stood rather shakily and waited for her to pick him up … which of course she did.

It was the communities that had worked together to make this story have a happy ending. The Facebook postings, beginning with one of the ACE employees, shared the story and provided a lead; the faith community provided prayers to sustain those who searched; those in Alpena and Alcona counties shared the information, ultimately leading to the rescue of the little dog who had survived two cold and rainy nights in the woods.

This article was submitted by Jan Mooradian of Hubbard Lake.

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