Dog goes missing for 19 days: ‘It was gearing up to be a miserable Christmas without him’

December 28, 2017 10:39 am Last Updated: December 28, 2017 4:05 pm

The biggest fear for a dog owner is that they come home to an empty house. Where they expected to find their furry pooch, there is silence; panic and fear set in immediately.

Dog lovers see their dogs as part of the family, not a pet. The thought of their pampered lovelies frightened and wandering the streets will keep them up at night.

Vivian Weir Duggan and her husband, Jack, were devastated when they found out their pup was missing. Devastated, but not defeated. They went to great lengths to make sure they were able to bring him back home.

Whitney, a 7-year-old Aussie, got away on the morning of December 5 in Arden, North Carolina. His owner turned to Facebook to try and get him back.

Friends in the Horseshoe/Etowah/Laurel Park area please keep an eye out for my Whitney. He got away this morning near…

Posted by Vivian Weir Dugan on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In addition to making a post on her own Facebook page, Dugan posted on the WNC’s Lost & Found Pets Facebook. That’s when the calls started pouring in.

“I got calls, emails, texts from people all over the place,” Dugan told the Citizen-Times. “Anywhere I stopped, people would say ‘Oh, you’re Whitney’s mom. We’re still looking for him.’ It was so heartwarming.”

But even as heartwarming as the show of support was, it didn’t bring Whitney home. Dugan says she was heartbroken that Whitney was lost and in a town he wasn’t familiar with.

Whitney got loose in Hendersonville, North Carolina, about a half-hour drive away from his hometown of Arden. To make matters worse, a massive snowstorm hit North Carolina just three days after he escaped.

Dugan started getting calls from all over by people who had spotted Whitney. But when she would arrive in her car, Whitney was already gone.

Last spotted yesterday before dark behind hillside lane running up the mountain towards laurel park/Davis mountain road….

Posted by Vivian Weir Dugan on Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dugan describes Whitney as “very skittish,” and won’t come when called. It was impossible for anyone who spotted him to corral him when they had the chance.

“It was heartbreaking,” Dugan said. “I went out every day excited and came home crying.”

Dugan says she and her husband responded to tips concerning Whitney’s whereabouts daily. They would spend three or four hours driving around looking for him before returning home.

The couple was starting to lose hope that they would ever see Whitney again.

Just then, a message came in from a man who said that Whitney was in his backyard, playing with his dog.

Everyone!!!! Please pray hard and fast right now!!! Whitney is in someone's yard playing with their dogs and Vivian's…

Posted by Christy Lovelace on Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christy Lovelace, administrator of the WNC Lost & Found Pets Facebook group, received a message from a man who had his eyes on Whitney.

The man said he recognized Whitney from the group, and the dog was running around in his brother-in-laws backyard, playing with his dog.

Lovelace contacted Dugan immediately, and her husband Jack raced over to the house to try and bring Whitney home. But because Whitney was so skittish, there was considerable risk that Whitney would escape again.

“Jack had to tackle him and hold him down until I got there,” Dugan wrote on her Facebook page. “Once he heard my voice he was instantly calm and wagging his tail.”

They were able to get Whitney back into their car and head home, thus ending the torturous 19 days they were without him.

Posted by Vivian Weir Dugan on Sunday, December 24, 2017

Lovelace estimates that 75, possibly 100 people helped in bringing Whitney back home—an unprecedented amount of community support for a missing dog.

“I think I’ve made lifelong friends through this,” Dugan said. “These are very special people. They took time out of their busy schedules to drop everything and help me, and I don’t take that lightly.”

“It was gearing up to be a miserable Christmas without him,” she added. “I have a lot of thank you notes and tins of cookies to deliver.”