Terry Tobias, an Upper Falls resident, submitted the following as a letter to the editor.
Wally is my Mom's 9 year old Italian Greyhound. She bought Wally about a year after my Dad passed away. He has been a great companion for her and they have grown even closer since Georgie (my Mom's female Greyhound) died tragically a year ago.
My Mom (Mrs. Moore) is 84 years old and makes practically all of Wally's meals. He especially likes her vegetable beef soup, Chinese food and greenbeans. Wally will just turn his nose up at dog food! Wally was spoiled in more ways than one being an "only" dog.
Wally has always been a very timid dog and would never approach family members or visitors who came to my Mom's house. He would venture outside her front door long enough to do his business and then run right back inside where he felt safe.
Early on September 25, 2012 my Mom called and said that Wally was sick. I drove to her home 45 minutes away and picked her up with Wally in the back seat.
After the visit at Fork Veterinary Hospital we stopped by my home in Kingsville. Wally had never been to my home before and was bewildered by his new surroundings. He seemed somewhat comfortable though so I removed his leash. I asked my Mom to come out to the patio to see my new grill. When we left the kitchen I asked her to close the dog gate separating the kitchen and livingroom (which would've kept all of the dogs in the kitchen). She didn't realize that it had to also be latched. When I opened the patio door something went flying past us and out the door. It was Wally!!! He went speeding across the backyard and up the driveway. That was the beginning of our month-long journey to bring him home!
I called Fork Vet to notify them of what had happened. They gave me the name of a pet tracker named Sam Connelly (410-365-7456). There is no doubt that without her we would never have captured Wally. On her instruction we put up large posters , distributed about 90 flyers with his photo, knocked on doors and visited all rescue facilities in the area for the next 4 weeks.
We began getting sightings within three days and then Sam was able to set up a trap. We checked the trap throughout the day from morning until late night. We then spotted Wally ourselves but as soon as we called him he took off like a bolt of lightning and was out of sight in a split second. We knew then that catching Wally was going to be almost IMPOSSIBLE.
Not one day passed by that family members were not checking traps or searching for Wally. We would bring my Mom down and drive her up and down Reynolds Road and Pfeffers Road while she called out his name until she became too weak to call anymore. My Mom had her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all searching for Wally, morning, noon, night, rain, dark, heat and cold. We were a dedicated and determined bunch!!! We were getting sightings every 3-4 days and each time it was like a 911 call - we jumped in our vehicles no matter what we were doing and took off looking for him. THEN.....10 days went by without a single phone call - we were thinking the worst but NOT giving up hope. My Mom was growing weary and we were all worried about her as much as we were Wally. It was showing that it was taking a toll on her from all of the sleepless nights worrying about Wally.
FINALLY, we got 4 sightings in two days! The sightings were all in the same areas so Sam came over and set up an open pen which she camouflaged. We also had cameras tied to trees to see if we could spot Wally at all. (we did catch a baby fox, an oppossum and a raccoon - all of which were turned loose).
We placed my Mom's pajamas in the open pen and some of her homemade vegetable beef soup. The next day when we checked the images on the camera there he was - we were SOOOOOOO close now. We just had to catch him. We went out and bought a larger trap (a coyote trap from Tractor Supply) that evening. We set it up the next morning and camouflaged it very well. That afternoon at 1:00 as we approached the trap, we thought that we saw a raccoon. When we got closer we saw that it was Wally, crouched in the back of the pen, shivering uncontrollably from fear. We couldn't contain our screams of excitement which I'm sure terrified poor Wally even more. He was pityfully thin with every rib pronounced. He looked like a skeleton with skin pulled over it.
We got our pick-up truck and put Wally, still in the crate in the back and rushed him to the BelAir Animal Hospital. He spent several hours there getting checked out. Amazingly there was no kidney or liver damage and not a scratch on him. He had lost half of his body weight - 24 lbs. to 14 lbs.
We contacted everyone BUT my Mom. This was going to be the "surprise" of her life and we all wanted to be there. We set a time and place to meet and then drove to her home about 8:00 in the evening. She was in her housedress watching t.v. when we all pulled in her driveway. When she opened the door she didn't know what was going on. (Wally was in an enclosed crate now and she couldn't see him). When we opened the crate she went to pieces!
It was an extremely emotional reunion but also VERY heart-warming. She COULDN'T believe that her Wally was finally home. She was still crying when we all left.
How Wally survived for a month we'll never know - I suppose that all of his natural canine instincts kicked in when he needed them.
My Mom would like to send her heartfelt thanks to all of the wonderful, caring and concerned folks of Kingsville, Joppa, Joppatowne and surrounding areas - she was touched by all of the people who were looking for Wally and helping in our search. Since Wally's capture we've learned of many more people who were looking for Wally - so - an ENORMOUS thankyou to everyone!!!
As a Christian family we believe that ultimately it was GOD who saw Wally though this ordeal and brought him home safely through our prayers!
Upper Falls, MD