Dogged determination pays off for Newton boys

By DAVID KERESTER Tribune Chronicle

NEWTON TOWNSHIP - Two young boys split a $500 rewardTuesday after rescuing a very frightened lost dog that hadmanaged to elude both animal experts and rescuers since itsdisappearance four days earlier.

The two best friends saidit was no easy task.

Daniel Clouston, 12, and Eddie Mack, 9, first learned ofthe missing dog and reward after seeing fliers posted Saturdaythroughout Blue Water Manor Mobile Home Park, where they bothlive.

Clouston pulled down one of the fliers with a picture ofthe missing dog, a 2-year-old, white fuzzy-faced bichon frisenamed Tommy.

The dog in the photo looked just like the little dog theyhad seen running frantically from two much larger dogs thenight before.

''We have to find it!'' Clouston said.

''We can do this!'' Mack agreed.

The dog had escaped the fenced-in back yard of residentHarriette Grimes, a temporary caregiver selected for Tommy bySmall Paws Rescue of Tulsa, Okla.

The nonprofit organization, devoted to the care ofmistreated bichon frise purebreds and mixes, had recentlypurchased Tommy from a Missouri breeder high on its list ofabusive puppy mill operations, according to Small Pawsexecutive director Robin Pressnall.

Grimes said capturing Tommy would be difficult due to ahistory of abuse and neglect it suffered at the hands of itsformer owners.

''The few days he was here, I couldn't put a hand on him.He is so afraid of people,'' she said.

The two boys had plenty of competition in the search.Dozens of children and several adults in the trailer parkspent much of the weekend and Monday combing the mobile homepark from top to bottom.

While there were several sightings, Tommy proved to be anartful dodger. By Tuesday morning, as the temperature dropped,nearly all had given up the search, Mack said.

Volunteers from three animal welfare organizations arrivedTuesday to bolster the search, including Pressnall, who flewin from Tulsa.

Animal Welfare League officer Ken Ford loaned a speciallyequipped safe-trap to capture Tommy, but to no avail. With theexperts and volunteers huddled near the center of the parkdiscussing strategy, Clouston had an idea.

Tracing an area where searchers last saw the dog, Cloustonand Mack followed a trail of small paw prints through a nearbywoods to a large home outside the trailer park.

There, near a garage, stood Tommy. The chase was on.

''We chased him probably half a mile. He was fast!''Clouston said.

With dogged determination, the boys finally cornered Tommyat the edge of a muddy duck pond. Growling and desperate toget away, the small dog plunged into the pond, paddling forthe other side.

''I didn't have much choice at that point,'' said Clouston.

While Mack straddled the pond's edge steadying his friendwith an outstretched arm, Clouston waded in the ice-coldwater, first past his knees then up to his waist until with alunge, he plucked the fearful and shivering pet from thewater.

Cold and exhausted, the boys returned to the team ofsearchers to a chorus of joyous cheers.

''It's a miracle,'' said Pressnall who quickly rewardedboth boys with equal shares of the $500 reward.

Soon, all were whisked off to the mobile home park officewhere the warming effects of blankets, an electric heater anda blow drier managed to blow a circuit breaker.

Clouston and Mack say they are not sure what they will dowith their money.

''I've never had $250 to spend before,'' said Clouston.

''Me either,'' said Mack with a big smile.

The reward is just part of the investment Small Paws Rescuehas made on behalf of the young dog. His purchase in Missouricost $800, while the veterinary care amounted to $400 or more,Pressnall said.

Tommy will go to a new foster home in Canton, since Grimes'yard did not seem to hold him, Pressnall said.

''He'll be adopted by a caring family after a two- orthree-month adjustment period in the foster home,'' Pressnallsaid.

Grimes said she is relieved Tommy was found, and with fiveother dogs to care for - including three in current fostercare through other organizations - she said she still hasplenty of pets to love.

For more information on Small Paws Rescue, Inc. and similarorganizations devoted to other dog breeds, visit the Web site,www.smallpawsrescue.org.

dkerester@tribune-chronicle.com