Off Beat Stories

Jan 20, 2010 10:20 AM by Paul Thomas

Family reunited with tiny dog that spent three months in the wilderness

Kathy Dunbar believes some miracles come in three-pound bundles.

Yet she still has a hard time believing that her Maltese-poodle mix named Mindy is sitting in her lap.

"It's like God looked over her," Dunbar said. "She was meant to be something special."

Mindy was lost during a family trip in August.

The dog survived more than three months in the woods of northwest Massachusetts, which is also home to owls, foxes, coyotes and bears.

When Mindy was found in mid-November, she weighed just three pounds and was infested with fleas.

Her fur was matted over her face so that she was "effectively blind," said Martha King-Devine, of the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.

"She was just skin and bones when they brought her into the shelter," King-Devine said of Mindy.

Mindy disappeared when Kathy and her husband, John Dunbar, stopped at a rest area on their way to Maine to visit a terminally ill relative.

"I thought he put her in and he thought I put her in," Dunbar said.

About 45 minutes after the rest stop, the couple realized that Mindy was missing.

John Dunbar retraced their route and spent six hours trying to find her.

"Every time there was a pull-off," John Dunbar said, "we would go back and look and call her name."

John also dropped off business cards at shops and police stations.

He also filed a report with King-Devine at the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, which would later prove to the link that helped reunite them with their dog.

On November 13, a father and son found Mindy running around in circles about 30 miles away from where she was last seen.

They immediately took her to a local veterinarian.

"Another 24 hours out there and it would have been over for her," said Carol Carlson, whose son, Tye, found Mindy.

Carlson said her son, who is autistic, became fast friends with Mindy.

She added that Mindy was special because most dogs scare her son, and the family was prepared to keep Mindy if she wasn't someone else's dog.

When they learned that Mindy had been reported missing three months earlier, Carlson and her son knew that they had to give Mindy back to her owners.

A week after rescuing Mindy, Carlson said that she is "definitely thinking" about getting a dog for her son now.

Mindy is recuperating at home and is putting on weight.

"I thought they were just great people to give her back," said Kathy Dunbar, "rather than keep it for their son."



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