Maryland family’s dog lost in Maine in subzero temperatures, found alive 9 days later

Posted Jan. 11, 2014, at 5:48 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 12, 2014, at 10:15 a.m.
Janet Boothby pets her daughter's dog, Dempsey, on Wednesday before a surgery to repair a broken leg. The dog got lost while staying with Boothby at her home in Maine.
Courtesy photo
Janet Boothby pets her daughter's dog, Dempsey, on Wednesday before a surgery to repair a broken leg. The dog got lost while staying with Boothby at her home in Maine.

Where are you going?

Dempsey, Jamie Cyrway’s 1-year-old boxer, was right on her heels while she was packing presents and clothing to leave for a family Christmas celebration on Dec. 28.

The Severn, Md., resident and her three children were visiting her parents Janet and Peter Boothby in Maine, and the dog must have thought they were leaving without him, she said.

“Every time I stopped to talk to my mom, he’d come sit right by me or sit on my feet,” Cyrway said. “He even laid across the stairs and looked up at me. I could tell he was saying, ‘Where are you going?’”

She never imagined that Dempsey would jump a 6-foot wooden fence in her parents’ backyard and end up lost in the small town of North Anson in sub-zero temperatures for more than a week.

On Monday, the dog was found in a shed with a broken right leg, chipped tooth and torn ligament. At 4:30 a.m. Friday, Cyrway and her kids left for Maine to pick up their missing “family member” from the local animal hospital.

“We’re now on our way. We are very excited,” Cyrway said Friday morning.

After Cyrway had left the Boothbys’ home that Saturday, Dempsey sat by the door until his “mama” drove away, Janet Boothby said.

“They’ve brought the dog before,” Boothby said. “It’s nothing new for him. He goes camping with us in the summertime, he’s come to the house, he goes everywhere.”

But this time, when Boothby let the dog out in their backyard covered in about 2 feet of snow, a confused, desperate Dempsey leaped over the tall fence.

Boothby said she called for the dog twice before realizing around 1 p.m. that he was no longer in the yard.

Several neighbors in the small, “close-knit” town said they had spotted him, but Dempsey ran away each time.

After over an hour of searching in her daughter’s car, hoping he’d recognize it by sight or smell, Boothby called to tell Cyrway the “heart-wrenching” news.

The family stayed an extra day and set up “scent stations” to attract their wandering dog. They strung their clothing on branches, her son left his pillow, and Cyrway stuck her own winter coat in Dempsey’s crate, hoping the familiar smells would lead him into one of the humane traps set up by animal control. The Boothbys checked the traps every couple hours in the 25 to 30 below zero weather.

“I left without a coat and without my dog,” Cyrway said.

Over a week later, a man called a local animal hospital to report he’d struck a dog with his car. He had no cellphone, so he made the call at a nearby farm. When he returned to the road, the dog was gone.

That Sunday night, Boothby’s son and daughter-in-law went to that road, but found only tracks leading in circles.

Christine Pierce, one of Boothby’s former students, saw the family’s posts on Facebook and, since there was no school on Monday, took her kids to help find Dempsey.

At the old wood processing plant in town, Pierce shrieked.

“I found you!” she said.

Inside an equipment shed was a skin-and-bones version of Dempsey.

Cyrway’s children didn’t expect to hear that someone found their beloved dog when she said she had a surprise for them Monday night.

“‘I bet it’s chocolate,’ my son said.”

The dog had surgery for the broken bone on Wednesday, and Cyrway hopes to bring him back when she returns from Maine on Sunday. Dempsey may need another surgery for his torn ACL, Boothby said.

“It’s totally a miracle for him to survive the temperatures,” Boothby said.

The first 48 hours after his rescue were crucial to check for frostbite.

Cyrway said she can’t even list all the people who helped find Dempsey.

“Even our church prayed Sunday morning,” Boothby said.

Pierce will receive a $50 reward for finding him. Cyrway said Pierce and animal hospital staff will also receive a bone-shaped keychain that reads:

“You saved a life and filled our heart. Forever thankful, Dempsey and family.”

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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