“I’ve had [Duncan] since I was a little kid,” Cano tells the Appleton Post-Crescent. “I haven’t ever had anyone as close [to me] as my dog.”
Cano, now a 17-year-old senior at Appleton East High School, couldn’t imagine his life without Duncan by his side. That’s why when Duncan unexpectedly went missing earlier last month, Cano was willing to go to the ends of the earth to bring his best friend back home.
On the morning of August 5, before heading off for his new job in town, Cano took Duncan outside. Duncan had done his business and had gotten a little exercise, so Cano brought him back inside, telling Duncan he’d see him later in the day. But when Cano returned home after work, Duncan had disappeared. In a panic, Cano searched his house, going from room to room, calling Duncan’s name, but it was no use. Duncan, the dog Cano had cherished since he was a boy, was gone.
Determined to find his missing dog, Cano logged onto Craigslist and posted a “Lost Dog” ad on the popular site, hoping there was someone, anyone out there with information about Duncan.
Two days later, Duncan’s whereabouts still unknown, powerful storms hit the Appleton area, six tornadoes wreaking havoc throughout East-Central Wisconsin. Trees were uprooted from the ground, buildings destroyed. How would Duncan survive out there, with the winds howling at speeds upwards of 100 mph? With no leads, Cano feared he would never see Duncan again. Not only had the Beagle mix gotten loose — the dog wasn’t wearing his collar or ID tags.
But just as he was losing hope, Cano got a message from Nikki Chaganos, a volunteer caseworker for an organization called Lost Dogs of Wisconsin. Chaganos had seen Cano’s Craigslist ad and wondered if she might be able to post Duncan’s information on the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Facebook page. Cano was glad to accept the help — anything to find Duncan. Though his dog had been missing for days, Cano refused to give up on Duncan.
“People told me, ‘You really should forget about this,’” Cano says. “‘Just leave him be.’ It was pretty hard to do after all the things we’ve been through together, and the connection we have together.”
That’s when Cano got an idea — if Duncan was out there somewhere, he would find this dog himself. Armed with $40 and a stack of “Lost Dog” posters, the Wisconsin teen took off on his bicycle.
In all, Cano rode nearly 90 miles on his bicycle, giving anyone who’d listen a flier, hoping someone had seen Duncan.
Finally, the morning of August 21, after more than two long weeks searching for Duncan, Cano got the call he’d been desperately waiting for. Liz Pirner with the Fox Valley Humane Association (FVHA) nearby called to tell Cano she believed the police had found a dog matching Duncan’s description. Cano was thrilled — until Pirner broke the news that Duncan’s leg had been badly injured.
When Cano arrived at the FVHA and saw Duncan in a cage, heavily sedated and limping badly, the teen says he couldn’t help but cry. Duncan had suffered severe fractures in his hind leg, ankle, and paw — likely the result of being hit by a car. An open wound on that leg had become infected so badly that without treatment, Duncan would likely lose his whole leg. FVHA staff explained Duncan had likely been injured for at least a week before police had brought him to the shelter. All Cano could think about was getting Duncan to a veterinarian and then finally bringing his dog home.
Thanks to kind donations from friends and well-wishers on the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Facebook page who’d followed Cano’s and Duncan’s story, Cano was able to pay the city-mandated fee of $267.85 to claim Duncan from the shelter. The teen then called the Appanasha Pet Clinic in nearby Menasha, making an appointment to treat Duncan’s injured leg.
Cano soon learned he would need to come up with an additional $157. But the ever-resourceful Cano had an idea of how he could raise the money Duncan needed for his treatments — his accordion.
“I started playing [my accordion] downtown — I’m a musician — and started performing,” Bernardo explains. “I put out my poster, and people kindly donated money to the cause.”
Friends and volunteers from the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin also pitched in, and in no time, Duncan was ready to come home. Duncan is still on the mend, but thanks to a little TLC and a lot of bandages, Cano says his dog’s leg will heal.
But the story doesn’t end there for Cano and Duncan. During the weeks Duncan was missing, Cano took many trips to the FVHA. During one visit to the shelter Cano says he felt especially low. That’s when he met a woman and a young girl in the FVHA parking lot, there to surrender a Miniature Pinscher named Scout. With Duncan now back home, Cano couldn’t get Scout off his mind, so he decided to bring her home, too. Now the three of them — Cano, Duncan, and little Scout — are enjoying life together.