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Story of lost Brooksville dog a holiday ‘miracle’

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
For Joni column Saturday, Dec. 11 Quigley, a 7-year-old Chinese Terrier, was lost in the Maine outdoors for nearly two weeks before he was found by an Old Town couple and reunited with his family. Photo courtesy of Bob Holmberg.
By Joni Averill

Regular readers of the BDN classified section might have noticed a “Found” ad recently, complete with a small photo, thanking those who helped a Brooksville couple find their family pet.

“And now,” as the late broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, “for the rest of the story.”

Dr. Bob Holmberg e-mailed and called me this week with the long tale of the little lost dog that he and his wife, Dr. Joan McCracken, are so happy to have back home.

The couple, who lived in Orono for nearly 30 years, had driven up from Brooksville on Friday, Nov. 19, to attend an event at the Collins Center on the University of Maine campus.

They left their little white Chinese terrier, Quigley, with a sitter in town but, as Bob explained, Quigley “uncharacteristically ran away” and, for his family, “loss and grief ruled.”

“[I] drove the roads all that Friday night and we searched, exhaustedly, the next day” all along Stillwater and Forest avenues, and Kelly Road, Bob wrote.

While there were sightings of a little white dog, “he would always run away, into the woods, as if spooked by cold, hunger and fear,” Bob said.

As the days passed, “with no further sightings,” Bob pictured Quigley, “curled up, deep in the woods, frozen out of his misery.”

Bob and Joan did everything they could think of to find Quigley: They laid out one of Bob’s old coats and left food along Stillwater Avenue, where he last was seen.

They registered their lost dog with the police, The Animal Orphanage in Old Town, and folks living along those roads.

“The concerned, friendly response from every one of these total strangers was phenomenal,” Bob wrote.

Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, came and went and, as the temperatures dropped below freezing and snow fell, “we slowly sealed our remorse” and worked on accepting the “hard reality he must have perished, alone, out in a cold Maine woods filled with coyotes,” Bob continued.

Then on Wednesday, Dec. 1, the police reported that “a fellow driving south on Interstate 95 by the Kelly Road exit had seen a little white dog curled up on the embankment, soaking up a warm moment of rare sunshine.

“Fighting the siren call of false expectation,” Bob and Joan “rallied again.”

On that windy, rainy Wednesday night, Bob set up Quigley’s cage, again, with food and some of his old clothing, on the embankment where Quigley last was seen, and Joan spent all day Thursday knocking on doors along Kelly Road and Stillwater Avenue with picture-posters of Quigley.

The 14-member family of James and Laura Winters scoured their woods and organized a community search that day and buoyed Bob and Joan with their prayers and positive “don’t worry, we’ll find him” attitude.

A Brooksville resident channeled good thoughts and another friend practiced Reiki, all to help find Quigley.

And then …

Arriving home in Brooksville that Thursday, Dec. 2, the dejected couple found five phone messages waiting for them: Ken and Eleanor Parent of Stillwater had found Quigley!

It was when Ken and their terrier, Sizzle, were out for their afternoon walk that Sizzle stopped and sniffed the back of the family’s gazebo.

Ken got down on all fours “to peer under the gazebo, and there was the little white head of Quigley, body buried in leaves, catatonically staring back in cold desperation,” Bob wrote.

“Ken slowly, gently approached.”

Quigley, too cold now to run away any longer, Bob said, “allowed Ken to pull him out.

“After quickly warming Quigley in his truck with the heater on high,” the Parents “took Quigley in for the night, after calling us, and began the critical rehydration and re-feeding so desperately needed by this hypothermic little dog, now no more than skin and bones.”

It was a most joyous reunion, the next Friday morning, for Bob and Joan to find Quigley no worse for wear, beyond a frostbitten paw.

“As we laid low this past weekend, appreciating this miracle, nursing Quigley back to health,” Bob wrote, “we reflect on the life’s lessons we learned from this journey, so minimal compared with the bigger tragedies, suffering and loss that surround us all.

“We are reminded there are very caring, good-hearted strangers out there willing to help us and become friends if we just reach out from our indifference and ‘busyness’ to meet them.

“We need to remain mindful of what’s going on around us by keeping eyes open, making the effort,” despite our busy routines, “to react and be curious and help a stranger in need. Miracles can happen.”

Bob and Joan urge us all “to keep up our spirit and determination, as Quigley did for 12 freezing nights.”

Finally, as they extend best wishes for the happiest of holidays to friends old and new, Bob reminds you to do as they did, and “keep identification on your dog’s collar.”

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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