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By APRIL WRIGHT
For the Dows, it was the best Christmas present they could ever ask for.
The family’s boxer, Daisy, was returned to them before Christmas after being missing for a year-and-a-half.
In July 2010, during a family gathering, the Dows’ rat terrier broke her leash and escaped from their yard on Nuckolls Curve Road in Galax. Soon after, Daisy slipped out of her collar and followed behind.
“They had ran off together before, but they had always returned,” said Judy Dow. “The next day we started putting out flyers and asking the neighbors.”
A couple of weeks ago, Lauren Self, a volunteer for the Wythe County Humane Society, had posted a picture of a rescued boxer on Facebook. It was then reposted by Jackie Surratt, a mutual Facebook friend of Self and Dow.
“It was about 6 o’clock in the morning, and I woke up my husband, Richard, to ask if it looked like Daisy,” said Dow, who is science teacher at Galax Middle School. “I went to the shelter the next day, and the Humane Society had already signed her out.”
Her husband had already lost all hope. “‘That’s probably not Daisy,’” he said. “‘You’re just going to have to face the fact that she’s gone forever.’”
The Wythe County Humane Society began an initiative over the summer to help reduce the euthanasia rate and increase adoptions at the regional animal shelter on Fair Street in Galax. Each month, they pull animals from the shelter and place them in foster homes until a “forever home” can be found.
Daisy was brought into the regional animal shelter as a stray on Dec. 9 after being found on Pumpkin Lane in Independence.
“During one of our weekly visits to the shelter we saw her and immediately knew she was a dog we wanted to save,” said Self, who also works as executive secretary for the City of Galax. “She always just stood there watching us, and she seemed much older than her actual age.”
The Humane Society pulled her from the shelter on Dec. 15, and she was taken to Mountain View Veterinary Clinic, where she was treated for intestinal parasites and dehydration.
The volunteer that took her in “knew immediately that she had been someone’s pet,” said Self. “She was very behaved and friendly.”
Self said the Humane Society’s intentions were to nurse her back to health and send her to a boxer rescue agency that would eventually find a home for her.
After Dow got in contact with the volunteer that was caring for Daisy, she followed the volunteer to her house to identify the dog. Dow was able to identify Daisy from scars she had from surgeries, as well as a photograph kept by a vets’ office.
“It was amazing to see her,” said Dow. “She has just jumped right into the family again. And she knew my husband immediately.”
The Dows, who have children — Austin, 16; Cody, 15; and Bella, 3 — were worried about how Daisy would react to seeing the children.
“Bella was just a few months old when we had Daisy,” said Dow. “But they love Daisy.”
When the Dows were reunited with Daisy a couple of weeks ago, she was underweight, but now she’s getting back to her old self and running and playing with the kids, said Dow.
She was the Dows’ first dog, picked up from a boxer rescue agency in Tennessee. Daisy, who was about a year old at the time, is about seven years old now.
“I had always wanted a boxer. They’re beautiful and could serve as a good guard dog for my kids — even though she’s not a very good guard dog,” Dow said with a laugh. “She’s just a big love bug.”
The family is still on the search for their rat terrier.
Dow said they’re taking extra steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The next payday, Daisy will undergo a procedure to implant a microchip under her skin, which will allow animal control officers and veterinarians to quickly identify her owner.
This just shows that Facebook and the Humane Society’s rescue efforts are paying off, said Self.
Volunteers of the Wythe County Humane Society were heartbroken when they lost several dogs to distemper over the past few months, but this is encouraging, said Self.
“This is why we are so passionate about rescuing dogs,” said Self. “We have been successful in placing numerous dogs with rescues and in new homes.”
This is the first dog that the Wythe County Humane Society has reunited with its owner since the group began the program in Galax.
“We are ecstatic that our efforts through the media and Facebook are working,” said Self, who advertises on Facebook pets that are needing a home. “Most people think that only stray, mean or sick animals are at the animal shelter. This is far from reality, as many family pets are turned in to the shelter for numerous reasons.”
Self said there are always friendly, adoptable pets waiting to find a loving home.
• The Wythe County Humane Society is continuously searching for volunteers, along with donations to help with efforts. Look for the Wythe County and Twin County Humane Society pages on Facebook. For those interested in becoming a foster home for the Twin County or Wythe County Humane Societies or making a monetary donation, contact Self at laurenathome