The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 10, 2013

Spike the wanderer returns home

BY MARY WICOFF
Commercial-News

Tori Lovre of Sioux Falls, S.D., waited nervously in the lobby at the Fairfield Inn in Danville. Looking out the front door, she saw a car with Ohio plates pull into the parking lot.

“I stopped … I couldn’t feel anything for a second,” she recalled. “Then I ran outside.”

She couldn’t wait to be reunited with her lost pal — Spike, a 3-year-old border collie/Lab mix.

“He ran up to me — he knew me,” she said, fighting back tears. “He’s so sweet.”

If only Spike could talk, he might enlighten everyone about how he left South Dakota last November and ended up in West Virginia. And then Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois.

The country-crossing canine is safely back in South Dakota with his family.

The complicated saga began in November when Lovre, 20, placed the dog temporarily with a friend who’s a truck driver. The friend, who lives in Kentucky, was supposed to take care of the dog while Lovre’s mother, Juanita Hagen, recovered from surgeries and the family tried to get back on solid ground financially.

Lovre had no idea that anything was wrong until she got a voice message from the Greenbrier Humane Society in Lewisburg, W.Va., on Jan. 26. The message said an animal control officer had picked up the dog and it would be placed for adoption.

The humane society had traced Lovre through the dog’s microchip. Spike wasn’t wearing a collar.

Frantic, Lovre contacted the humane society through its Facebook page, and said she couldn’t afford to make the 40-hour drive, but she wanted her dog back.

“He’s my little baby,” she said.

That prompted a series of messages on Facebook, as the shelter tried to find transportation for Spike from West Virginia to South Dakota.

Two friends in Ohio — Lily Robinson of Xenia and Rosa Brown Delk of Cedarville — learned about the dog’s plight, and decided to help out. At the minimum, they knew they could get the dog to Illinois, where Robinson’s friend — Carolyn Hall of Danville — lives.

Hall tried her best to find someone from the Danville area to take the dog to its home, but nothing worked out.

Lovre, chatting with the three women through Facebook pages, said she could get to Danville for the reunion.

On Jan. 29, Delk’s nieces — Dani Brown and Sarah Allen — drove to Lewisburg, picked up the dog and returned to their home in Morehead, Ky. Then, Robinson and Delk drove from Ohio to Kentucky to get Spike.

The dog was the perfect guest at Robinson’s home in Xenia.

On Friday, Feb. 1, Lovre, her mother and grandmother, Mardell Burckhard, made the 10-hour trip from Sioux Falls to Danville, and stayed overnight at the Fairfield Inn.

The next morning, Robinson and Delk left early to make the four-hour drive from Ohio to Danville. Hall met everyone at the Fairfield.

On that snowy Saturday morning, Lovre and her dog were reunited.

Taking a break from hugging Spike, Lovre said she doesn’t know how the dog and the man in Kentucky got separated. She has tried to contact the man, but he hasn’t returned messages.

“It didn’t work out the way I thought it would,” she said.

Lovre said her 1½ -year-old daughter would be excited to see the pet again.

She appreciated the outpouring of concern for the dog, and thanked everyone for their help.

The reunion drives home an important point for pet owners — make sure your dog or cat is microchipped. And make sure you register the animal with the microchip company, and update your address if necessary.

“It’s the best (money) you’ll ever spend,” said Hall, who has a Shetland sheepdog.

Hall also praised Robinson and Delk for making the reunion possible, downplaying her own role. “They’re the heroes in my book,” she said.

Friends meet

On a side note, the reunion between dog and owner wasn’t the only memorable event that Saturday morning.

It was also the first meeting between Hall and Robinson, who have been friends on the Internet for three years.

The two women met through their blog sites, and found they had a lot in common. At one point, both had yellow Labrador retrievers.

Robinson said she was attracted to Hall’s writing because it reminded her of the late columnist, Erma Bombeck. “This is Erma Bombeck reincarnated,” Robinson said of Hall. “She’s a fantastic writer. I enjoyed her stories.”

When Robinson was going through some health problems, she found she could get support and advice from Hall, a retired nurse who worked at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center and the Provena Cancer Center.

The two communicated through e-mail and then telephone, but hadn’t met in person until last weekend.

“I was so thrilled to meet her,” Robinson said.

For people and pet, it was a good day all around. Spike is probably dreaming about his friends in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois — plus others who tried to help him along the way. Best of all, he’s back with his loving family.

FYI

— Read comments about Spike on the Greenbrier Humane Society’s Facebook page. The organization’s website is www.greenbrierhumane.org.

— Microchips, about the size of a grain of rice, are implanted by a veterinarian or technician under an animal’s skin. An enrollment form is completed with chip ID, owner contact information, pet name and description, and other inforamtion. The form is sent to a registry, such as the chip manufacturer. For a fee, the registry typically provides 24-hour, toll-free telephone service for the life of the pet. A chip without current contact information is essentially useless.

The Pets column runs every four weeks. If you would like to have your pet featured, contact Mary Wicoff at 477-5161, send an e-mail to mwicoff@dancomnews.com or write to Commercial-News, 17 W. North, Danville, IL 61832.