Zoe, a black lab mix with the white chest markings, did what mischievous mutts do Wednesday evening: She saw a front door open for an instant, either stuck her tongue out in disdain or just let her tongue hang out because dog tongues always hang out, and ran for daylight.
But now, owners of Zoe are concerned — even traumatized — that Zoe, 2 years old and a save from the Charlotte pound, is not just missing but possibly dognapped.
When Zoe ran out, her owners, Daniel Wells and his wife Ashlee, parents of a an infant son Simon and another son less than 2 years old named Ralphie - named for a grandfather, not the kid in ‘A Christmas Story’ with the BB gun - ran after her.
“She’s a dog, she got out,” said Daniel Wells, one of the staffers at Hill City Church in downtown Rock Hill. “Sure she has gotten loose a few times. We always get her and bring her home.”
Most times if the family doesn’t bring Zoe home she just comes home after an hour or so. Plus, Zoe had on a name collar and has a microchip that identifies her.
But this time David and Ashlee were out looking near Glencairn Garden on Charlotte Avenue, at Cedar Crest Park where Wilson Street intersects, just a couple hundred yards east of the historic garden park. Ashlee Wells told a woman who had a leash and dog treats in her maroon SUV who stopped that the dog normally comes home, that the dog was not a stray, and that the Wells family lives right across the street.
“I talked to her,” Ashlee Wells said of the woman. “It was clear it was our dog.”
Zoe did not come home, though. So the couple drove around the neighborhood to no avail. Wednesday night turned into Thursday and still no Zoe.
Tiny Ralphie Wells, the toddler, wanted to know where Zoe was and there was no good answer.
They kept looking and checked lost pet Web sites, animal shelters, other places that might have the dog. Daniel Wells’ brother in Detroit, Michigan - described by Daniel Wells as “street smart” because all big-city guys are street smart - said maybe the dog had been snatched. A friend in the Marine Corps told Wells it might be a dognapping.
Then late Thursday, Daniel Wells said a Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism worker who cleans the parks told them that he had seen a woman entice the dog into an SUV. Apparently the woman stopped in the middle of Charlotte Avenue, blocking traffic, Wells said.
“The lady stepped out, had a leash and dog treats, and now Zoe is gone,” Daniel Wells said. “I don’t want to think the worst but it is weird. Our Zoe may have been dognapped.”
Ashlee Wells made up flyers that she is going to put up around the neighborhood. The flyers have Zoe’s picture on it. The flyer states what everybody in the Wells house knows all to well: Zoe doesn’t always come when called.
Daniel Wells even filed a police report Friday morning, telling the young officer who took the information that he doesn’t know for sure if there was a dognapping or not, but wanted the incident on file. He also made sure the microchip in Zoe’s ear was activated.
Out at Cedar Crest Park Friday a different city worker was asked if he had seen any loose dogs or ladies with leashes and dog treats driving a maroon SUV. The worker said dogs get loose all the time, and his Jack Russell is one of them, but he hadn’t seen a black dog or any woman with a black dog.
Sunday is Daniel Wells’ turn to preach at the nontraditional Hill City Church that features Birkenstocks instead of wingtips, and has parishioners as likely to pour somebody a cold drink in a Mason jar instead of a gilded goblet. He hadn’t thought about trying to mesh the tale of the possible dognapping in Rock Hill into his sermon, but thinks there may be a message in there somewhere.
In the meantime, Daniel Wells said that he and his family have learned a lesson: Don’t let your dog run out the open door. And he hopes that the dog will be found and returned and that all the worry of the past couple of days was just a person trying to help - and not a case of dognapping.
Andrew Dys * 803-329-4065 * firstname.lastname@example.org