With help of social media, prodigal returns

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Remember the story of the prodigal son who left home, and then returned to a joyous reunion with his family. It’s a Bible story I like.

Well, I have a tale of a prodigal dog. (Prodigal in the sense of leaving home — not leaving under bad terms). Like the Bible story, it has a happy ending.

Before I tell that story, let me share how the dog arrived. Buddy, the name my husband gave him, showed up in May 2013 with two other dogs that took up residence at the place our family owns up the road from our house.

Sadly, one of the dogs died when it wandered onto the highway. The other one, a black sheep dog looking animal, vanished a year later in December.

That left Buddy, a white lab. At some point, he was obviously someone’s pet because he was neutered and he knew tricks, like how to fetch.

When we built the yoga studio in early 2015, he became the yoga dog. Although he was shy, he welcomed students when they arrived for class and even let a few pet him. Buddy was a gentle, loving and happy dog. We quickly settled into a routine of daily feeding and petting, and he became part of our family and the yoga family.

Then on Dec. 30, 2015, Buddy vanished. He was there when my husband was on his way to work. My father-in-law saw him around lunchtime.

However, when I went to feed him that afternoon, he was gone. I called and called, but there was no sign of the dog. It was a rainy day and Buddy didn’t like bad weather, which meant he stayed under the trailer that is on the property.

He was not a dog that roamed either. So, when my husband stopped on his way home from work and he wasn‘t there, we knew something was wrong. For days, we called and searched, but no Buddy anywhere.

We found a patch that looked like fur beside the road and thought maybe a truck hit him. Perhaps, he was hurt and wandered into the woods. We searched more, but no Buddy. We were heartbroken that he was gone; so were the yoga folks who knew him.

Now to the return of prodigal Buddy. Week before last, a picture popped up on my timeline, shared by a friend from her Facebook page.

The caption said a lost, scared dog wearing a red collar was hanging around obviously looking for its owner.

“That’s Buddy,” I said. “I know it is.” (Buddy had a red collar.)

I showed my husband and he thought it was Buddy, too. So, I messaged the man and gave him more details about how our dog looked. My description matched the dog in his picture.

The next day I got directions to his house. He said the dog was staying near a shop in a field across the road. The man who owned it fed him once or twice a week when he checked on the place. The dog wouldn’t let anyone else get close.

We went to the field and I started calling.

“Buddy, Buddy.”

“There he is Daddy,” said the man’s son. “He’s wagging his tail.”

After another call, the dog came running. When he reached me, I held out my hand. He was skittish, but eased up, smelled my hand and, boom, instant recognition. He started jumping and twirling and wagging his tail.

Yep, it was Buddy and he was almost 10 miles from home. He was skinny from not eating regularly, but otherwise healthy.

We will probably never know how he ended up so far away. We have theories and think someone helped with his disappearance. I hope that person/people understands karma will get you every time.

All we know is the prodigal dog, (I’m not sure you are a prodigal if someone arranges your leaving) is home. We may not have a fatted calf, but we are celebrating Buddy’s return.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.