Missing service dog has been found
Posted at: 09/19/2012 2:39 AM
By: Melody Burri/Messenger Post | WHEC.com
Raven will sleep well tonight. So will her owner, U.S. Army veteran Josh Merrell, who’s been searching for her since she bolted from his car after a collision in Farmington Sunday, Sept. 9.
“I got her!” said Merrell in a phone interview minutes after the two were reunited. “She was found over by the Morgan Supplies and they have an enclosure in the back and they closed the gate as soon as they saw her.”
The 3-year-old black lab — his service dog — had been on the run for nine days, and appeared skittish when Merrell first approached at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. But when he spoke to her in Portuguese, which he often does, she recognized him immediately.
Joel Strub, an employee of Morgan Recreational Supply in Farmington, contacted Merrell about 3:30 p.m. when coworkers found Raven, and was on hand to witness the reunion.
“He was pretty darn excited,” said Strub. “One of our drivers came back, and the dog was right there, so he closed the gate. I was able to call Josh, and he came and picked her up.”
Strub and his colleagues had read about Raven in the paper and had written the contact numbers down “just in case.”
“I’m just glad he got the dog back,” said Strub. “They were both so excited. Raven was just beside herself. When he talked to her, it seemed to calm her right down.”
As he drove back home with Raven passed out on the back seat of his vehicle, Merrell, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, was overwhelmed with gratitude.
“I can’t even think of words to say right now. I’ll probably finally be able to get a decent night’s sleep,” he said. “She has been missing from Sept. 9 to today — so it’s been nine days. That doesn’t seem like that long when you think about it, but when we’re (usually) together every day, it’s a long time.”
On his list of things to do right away: Buy a new leash, give Raven a bath, and serve up the supper of her dreams.
“Me and my girlfriend told each other we’re going to get her a steak,” said Merrell. “We’ll cook it up, cut it up and let her chow down. She’s had a really rough week.”
Most surprising to Merrell was the number of Farmington people who helped in the search and called to say they had spotted her.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Merrell on Tuesday. “There are so many phone calls to make and people to inform. I had a good 10 to 20 people who were really committed to the situation and were helping me every day. We had a bloodhound named Chili working with us yesterday and last Friday, so we knew where she had been and where she had slept at night.”
It turns out that Raven had stayed in about a 4-mile circle the whole time — every place where people had seen her.
“I’m really excited to have her back home,” Merrel said. “She looks great — she looks like she’s in great shape.”