Little dog is lost, then found during Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc across the Northeast this week, leaving loss and devastation in her wake. But as the superstorm pushes her way north into Canada, families from North Carolina to Maine are beginning to pick up the pieces, and hundreds of worried pet owners are desperately trying to find the cats and dogs that ran off during the deadly hurricane.

From left: Dottie Vaillancourt, Bruce Foss, Dewey, Nicholas Vaillancourt, and Paul Brulé. (Photo credit: Steve Lanava/T&G)

Though there are still many “LOST PET” ads and photos of missing four-legged family members on Facebook and Twitter this morning, there are also many happy reunion stories emerging.

One such “happy tail” comes from central Massachusetts, where today a very relieved dog owner is grateful that her beloved Chinese Crested is finally safe and sound.

Dottie Vaillancourt and her son Nicolas were preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy Sunday evening, gathering their patio furniture to store inside before the storm hit. Their two Chinese Crested dogs, Gracie and Dewey, were safe in the house.

As the winds began to howl, Dewey spooked and made a break for it, bolting through a gate the family had accidentally left open while they scrambled to get ready for the approaching superstorm.

Dewey is a rescue dog. Vaillancourt told the Telegram & Gazette Dewey had been abused as a puppy, and though he has had nothing but love and affection since, his early experiences make him very nervous around unfamiliar people. “He’s afraid of his shadow,” Vaillancourt said of little Dewey.

Because he is so skittish, this isn’t the first time that Dewey has run off. Vaillancourt says that awhile back, when Dewey ran off and was found a couple of towns over, she purchased a special GPS collar for him. He hadn’t escaped since — until Sunday night as the menacing Sandy inched closer and closer to the Massachusetts coast. And that night, just by chance, Dewey wasn’t wearing his GPS collar.

“I was sick to my stomach,” Vaillancourt explains, remembering how she searched everywhere for her missing dog as Hurricane Sandy flooded streets, tore down trees, and knocked down houses.

Dewey, who is mostly hairless except for a few tufts on his face and legs, usually gets cold if it is below 60 degrees outside. Though he was wearing a sweater at the time of his escape Sunday, Vaillancourt knew that it was likely soaked because of the rain, and she feared the worst. “I thought he was dead,” she admits, remembering her feelings of dread as she searched high and low for her missing pup.

Immediately after Dewey disappeared, Vaillancourt created an ad on Craigslist, making sure to include a current photo, a detailed description, and her contact information. She got in her car and drove around the neighborhoods, calling out Dewey’s name. She says that, though she spent a lot of time training Dewey, she had no way of knowing whether or not he would come when called or if his fear would get the better of him.

After a sleepless night, Vaillancourt’s phone rang Monday morning. Bruce Foss, who had seen Vaillancourt’s Craigslist ad by chance, explained that he had seen Dewey in his neighbor’s yard.

Paul Brulé, Foss’s neighbor, was bringing out his recycling and spotted Dewey in his front yard. When Brulé tried to approach the little dog, Dewey dashed for the nearby bushes in Foss’s yard. Foss explained that he and his neighbor tried to use cookies to coax the frightened pup out from the bushes, and while Dewey ate the cookies, he refused to come anywhere near the two men. In fact, as Foss made the call to Vaillancourt, Dewey was still there, shaking beneath that bush.

Vaillancourt rushed over to Foss’s home, overjoyed that her Dewey was still alive. When she arrived, she called Dewey’s name and the little dog ran out to his thankful owner. Vaillancourt scooped Dewey up into her arms, beyond grateful that two strangers took the time to try and help her scared little dog.

As for Dewey, he seems unfazed after his ordeal. “He’s the sweetest little dog,” Vaillancourt says, “for everything he’s been through.”

For updates on lost and found pets in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, please check the Hurricane Sandy Lost and Found Pets Facebook page. And, like Dottie Vaillancourt and Bruce Foss did, you can also check Craigslist for lost and found pet ads out of the Northeast U.S.