July 19 started out like any other day for Blane and Rudy, but a trip to the dog park went horribly wrong when Rudy’s seat belt harness buckle snapped and Rudy tumbled out of the window and onto I-84, disappearing into the woods after crossing the busy highway.
For days a broken-hearted Blane revisited the area, making his way along the highway and trudging through the woods all the while hanging flyers and making calls to pounds, shelters and the D.O.T. hoping for any information about Rudy. He slept very little, out on a mission usually over 12 hours each day with no help at all. Blane was feeling totally overwhelmed and on a path to make himself very sick.
Help came on the fifth day in the way of some social networking support, including the making of a Facebook page and reaching out to those who could volunteer in any way to help find Rudy. With more people now focused on Rudy, Blane was able to feel a sense of relief. Blane even had the opportunity to consult with Jordina Giggheri of Lost Pet Professionals, the service she created drawing on the wealth of experience she gained in the search for her own dog, Andy.
As with many other lost dog searches, the hunt for Rudy yielded another dog taken off the streets on Saturday night. “Rudy II” is a young dog with coloring and markings similar to Rudy’s. “Rudy II” is now a ward of Waterbury Animal Control and unfortunately, his days are numbered if he is not reclaimed or adopted given the nature of the municipal system. “Rudy II” may well have been the dog reported as a Rudy sighting earlier in the week.
On Sunday, a meetup was scheduled in a commuter parking lot to hang flyers and walk the area. Not long before meeting time, Blane received a call from a woman saying she saw Rudy back on the highway. Kathy and her friend, Ruth had seen a poster and knew the dog on I-84 was Rudy. The wheels were set in motion for what would be an incredible reunion.
Kathy climbed up into woods on the median of the highway and kept Rudy in her sight, but could not win his confidence. Blane contacted the State Police who arrived on the scene. The State Police closed down I-84 for everyone’s safety. What happened next defies almost everything we have been taught about how lost dogs will react even to family members.
According to Blane “When I got there the police lined up on the highway and slowed the traffic for me to go in front of them. As I drove by I didn’t notice Rudy, the grass was too high and the highway noise was still loud from the other side. Officer McDaniel of the Connecticut State Police had a great voice and yelled for me. I backed up to him and Kathy, the person who saw Rudy. They were up in the thick vegetation on top of the hill in the median. I stopped. They yelled that he was to my right and he popped his head over the high grass. At the first second he thought I was someone else and tried to back away from me. I whistled a low sound. He looked again and it was just like a scene from Lassie Come Home. He ran down the rest of the hill and jumped his front paws around my shoulders.”
The next stop was that commuter parking lot, where those who were gathering for Rudy would be able to actually meet him and join in celebratory hugs and tears. Among those present was Cindy Pelletier, herself no stranger to the search for a lost dog with her efforts to Bring Timmy Home.
Aside from a couple of tender spots, some road rash, a missing toenail and no collar, Rudy seems to be physically not much worse for the wear. His visit to the vet on Monday confirms his good health. He has displayed some insecure behavior, which is not out of the ordinary after his ordeal.
Blane sends his many thanks to all of Rudy’s supporters. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to Kathy for her actions, and to the State Police who clearly understood the importance of one little life needing to be saved.