It was to be just another leisurely stroll in the meadow on Mt. Rose Highway — dogs, friends, wildflowers — a perfect afternoon.
Little did anyone suspect that that day, June 18, would be the beginning of an 8-day search for a 15-pound Havanese dog named Roxie.
Shari Wilson and Jerry Williams were taking care of their friend Noreen Spanski’s small dog while she was out of town.
The three had been trading dog sitting favors for 15 years, and Cody, the couple’s dog, had grown up with Roxie.
Six-year-old Roxie had, years before, earned the nickname The Velcro Dog because she was so trustworthy and never one to stray.
But, while her dog sitters and their friends chatted and admired the scenery, confident that, as always, Roxie was right beside them with Cody, she vanished.
Not alarmed at first, they called for her and back-tracked, but she was gone. Full of dread and in a state of disbelief, Roxie’s caretakers and their friends called and searched until dark.
They found two women who, yes, had seen her — cross the road, stopping cars traveling both directions on Highway 431.
As daylight faded, they knew they had to make one of the hardest phone calls of their lives; they had to call Noreen and tell her they had lost her beloved companion.
Noreen cut short her time in Michigan and flew back three days later. In the meantime, Shari and Jerry and a number of friends organized search parties, posted “Lost” flyers, and talked to everyone they could find about the missing dog.
These efforts were rewarded with Roxie sightings by other people nearly every day. The phone would ring, but the message would always be the same.
“Yes, we just saw Roxie, but when we called to her, she fled into the bushes.”
She loves people so the searchers knew just how frightened she must have been to run away from those who wanted to rescue her.
Every day, all day, the search for Roxie continued. Regular sightings plotted her path as she moved from the Meadow to Chickadee Point to the Flume Trail off Highway 431.
In the end, Roxie was rescued on her own terms. The morning of the eighth day, she made it into the Upper Tyrolia neighborhood, found the home of Nick and Mari Harris, and their golden doodle, Noodles, and barked fiercely until she was let in. She was only a few blocks from her Tahoe home in Burgundy Hill.
Mari said she heard the barking and upon opening the door, saw this small, scruffy-looking black and white Havanese.
She looked around and realized the dog was alone and invited her in. Mari was able to get a phone number off Roxie’s tag and called Noreen’s cell phone.
Shari and Noreen were searching on the Flume Trail, the location of her most recent sighting, when Noreen’s phone rang, “Is your dog lost?”, said the voice, “I’ve got her!”
Shari and Noreen walked, arm in arm, to the highway, delirious with joy and relief.
While the two drove to get her, Roxie inhaled two large bowls of food and then promptly jumped up into a chair and curled up for a nap.
Noreen, Shari, and Jerry were so grateful to the dozens of people who had helped search for Roxie, were so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, they decided to throw a party to bring all of the wonderful people together to thank them for their efforts and to give them a chance to meet the star, Roxie, nicknamed, “Roxstar” by her searchers.
Roxie had lost 20 percent of her body weight, but other than being dirty and, as Noreen put it, “smelling like the forest,” the little dog had no wounds. A local vet gave her a clean bill of health the day she was found.
A reward had been posted for the safe return of Roxie, which Nick and Mari declined to accept with Mari’s explanation that returning a lost dog to its owner was on her Bucket List.
There are many heroes in this story, yet all they all take a bow to little Roxie, the dog who was lost in the forest, yet made her way home.
Toree Warfield is an avid nature lover, and writes this column to teach and stimulate interest in the marvels that surround us. See the new website: saveourplanetearth.com to read columns and to find links to bird song recordings, additional photos and other content. Shari Wilson contributed to this story.
“Roxie had lost 20 percent of her body weight, but other than being dirty and, as Noreen put it, ‘smelling like the forest,’ the little dog had no wounds. A local vet gave her a clean bill of health the day she was found.”