In 2016, Renee Perry of Millbury, Massachusetts, was fostering a medium-sized dog she said was a Basenji mix. The dog, named Bay, was staying with Perry’s brother that summer when she went missing.
Bay was timid and successfully avoided being found. Perry and friends kept an eye out and their hopes up, but months passed with no sightings of the shy, 18-month-old pup.
“There was never any sign of her,” Perry told MetroWest Daily News. “We looked all summer. I always looked.”
Three years ago, a family in Needham, 10 miles away from where Bay went missing, started noticing a dog that would come into their yard every so often — a fact they discovered when more and more dog poop started showing up in their yard.
The family set up a camera and saw it was a brown and white dog that kept sneaking into their yard. Assuming the dog was someone’s pet and was just allowed to wander at will, they would occasionally feed her.
The same dog was spotted picking through the local dump. At some point, an attempt to trap the dog was made, but she evaded capture.
“Attempts to trap her were unsuccessful as it became evident that this street savvy girl was not going to go in a conventional trap,” the Missing Dogs Massachusetts Facebook page explained.
“MDM Volunteers Danielle M & Deb B reached out to Needham ACO Parsons to offer assistance and he became involved in the process as well. Flash forward to late last week, Danielle, Deb & ACO Parsons went out and started assembling panels for the kennel trap to get the dog used to it. This morning they decided to go live and shortly after, the dog was in the trap.”
“We thought this had to be someone’s dog because she was so plump,” volunteer Danielle Matthew said. “Then we got closer and she was covered with tics and she had dirty ears, really dirty all over the place.”
As the dog received care, volunteers noticed several interesting things. The dog needed several baths to be fully cleaned, and she was wearing a collar — but it was so tight and embedded in her neck that it had to be cut off her.
She was also microchipped, and the info on the chip belonged to Perry.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” Perry told WBZ-TV. “I saw the pictures, and it did look like her but she … her nose was darker; she just looked heavier; she just looked different.”
“To get her back … I think it’s an understatement to say it was a miracle because … it’s, it’s just crazy. It’s surreal.”
“It was probably within a couple hours of trapping her once her microchip was scanned that we found out her story, and as soon as Renee got out of work, she was reunited with her,” Deb Newport, another volunteer, said.
“It’s so incredible,” Matthew said to MetroWest Daily News. “This was great and gives a lot of owners some hope.”
“I’m amazed she survived five New England winters, you know,” she told WBZ. “But yeah, a resilient little dog.”
It’s unknown whether Bay was ever taken in by anyone, but the fact the collar that was cut off of her was the same one she’d been wearing while in Perry’s care suggests that she was, indeed, on her own the entire five years.
Perry has picked up where the two left off, and said Bay is adjusting to home life.
“Take those baby steps,” she said. “And you know go back to putting the leash on her and trying to get her to, to walk on a leash and that’s our, our goal — to keep going where we left off five years ago.”
“Every once in a while I’d mention her and say, ‘I wonder what happened to her.’ I’m so happy. When she’s home with me and my (other) dog, she has moments of joy. And then there are moments when she just sits and stares, like she’s trying to figure out things.”
“To the family that let them set up a cage in their yard, I’m forever thankful for them.”
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