August 22, 2012 - The best endings are happy ones that lick your face and wag their tail – just ask Judy Vitucci.
Judy Vitucci, of Addison, is happy to have her baby, Hogan, back at home, safe and sound. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
On Friday, Aug. 17, the Addison Township resident was joyfully reunited with her missing German Shepherd named Hogan.
"Life couldn't be better," she said. "I'm telling you, I'm overwhelmed."
Hogan had been missing since Aug. 7, which coincidentally was Vitucci's birthday. He disappeared from the family's horse farm near Lake George and Noble roads.
Based on some suspicious circumstances, the Vituccis feared their beloved dog had been stolen and that they might never see his furry little face again.
Fortunately, Hogan was returned by a woman who lives in Dryden. She indicated that she'd found him "playing with a stick" along Lake George Rd. She picked him up and took him home with her.
Fast-forward to Friday morning and Vitucci having coffee with her husband, Pat. She was upset and he was trying to gently break it to her that he didn't believe they were ever going to find Hogan. Vitucci told her husband, "I am not going to give up. I'm a fighter."
"About a half-an-hour later, the phone rang and it was a lady who told Pat that she had our dog," she said.
Vitucci explained that apparently, this woman's mother saw the article about Hogan on the front page of last week's Leader and told her daughter about it.
"We gave (the Dryden woman) a reward and thanked her," she said.
As can be expected, the reunion with Hogan was quite an emotional experience for the entire Vitucci clan.
"I went right on the ground and gave my dog a hug," Vitucci said. "My husband had tears. I sat there and cried. Our other dogs were overjoyed. Hogan didn't know who to go to – he kept on running between me, Pat and (our daughter) Maria. He was just running around in circles. He was real happy."
Other than having "lost a little weight" and being "nervous" around the family's other dogs, Vitucci said Hogan was in good shape when he arrived. "Now, he's at home sleeping," she said on Friday. When this reporter visited the Vitucci home on Monday, Hogan was running around, eager to play and quite wet from splashing in the pond.
Vitucci indicated one of her other German Shepherds, a 4-year-old named Cowboy, really missed Hogan, who's his son.
"He was in a depression," she said. "He was just moping around."
Now that Hogan's back, Cowboy is one happy pappy.
"Maria posted a picture on Facebook of them laying right next to each other in the barn," Vitucci said. "They had been running around and playing."
She plans to have one of those identification microchips implanted in Hogan, just in case he ever goes missing again.
Vitucci was extremely appreciative that the Leader wrote and published an article about Hogan. She credits that story with his return. "I'm telling you if it wasn't for you guys putting that article in the paper, we probably would never have got him back," Vitucci said. "I'm grateful. Thank you so much for helping us out."
Vitucci is also very grateful for the outpouring of support she received from the community. Tons of folks – many of whom were strangers – called, texted, e-mailed and contacted her via Facebook. "My phone has been going off ever since you guys put that (article) in," she said.
In addition to offering Vitucci advice and moral support, folks sent her photos and information concerning missing German Shepherds in the hopes that one of them might be Hogan.
"Everyone was so kind," she said. "I'd really like to thank the community for trying to help me out. People that I don't even know . . . were there, trying to help me. I just have to say thank you."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.