Jan 4, 2010 5:57 PM by Brian Thompson
Maybe Buddy the Beagle should be renamed "Lucky" or "Hope" or "Robinson Crusoe." All names aside, one New Jersey family counts the 4-year-old beagle as their 'Miracle Dog."
But the saga of the Kelley family, of Eatontown, and their wayward pooch wouldn't have ended happily if it wasn't for 'Muskrat Jack," a newfound hero in this story of survival and hope.
Buddy was rescued Monday by "Muskrat" Jack Neary from the uninhabited Gull Island in the Manasquan Inlet, after spending 98 days stranded there despite several efforts to rescue him.
"This is obviously a miracle," said Edie Kelley, whose son Patrick is the dog's actual master.
The family was on the Dog Beach in Manasquan back on August 31st when the beagle bolted -- perhaps after being spooked -- as they were switching leashes.
Rescue posters went up right away but it took until a month ago for someone to spot Buddy on Gull Island, after he apparently used some railroad tracks that connect it to the popular fishing inlet.
"The Coast Guard reported seeing him digging in the sand for clams and sand crabs," said Edie, referring to a nearby Coast Guard Station.
'Muskrat Jack' says the Coast Guard told him Buddy "would occasionally pick up a dead seagull "
What he used for water in the sandy soil no one knows, but Buddy went from being a 35 pound beagle to just 19 pounds when 'Muskrat Jack' finally lured him into a trap he set on the island Monday.
When asked what the bait was he used, 'Muskrat Jack,' who says he's been trapping animals for 50 years, would only say "a secret formula."
Whatever it was, it worked, though there wasn't much of Buddy left. "A bag of bones," said 'Muskrat Jack,' describing him as "a little lonely, cold, forlorn little dog curled up sleeping."
A veterinarian checked him out, said he was fine, and told the Kelleys to feed him multiple times a day for at least two weeks.
"He's the same old Buddy," said Charlie Kelley.
And Kelley quickly added that this story was a good lesson for his two granddaughters: "Don't give up hope."