12/26/04 — Kannans & dog reunite after 18 months

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Kannans & dog reunite after 18 months

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 26, 2004 2:03 AM

Jack and Beth Kannan say they'll never look at stray dogs the same way again. Not after spending nearly 18 months searching for one that belonged to them.

"All stray dogs are not abandoned," Kannan said. "We need to pay attention."

The Kannans said that whenever they used to see unattended dogs, they'd wonder about the dogs' stories. Then they embarked on an adventure of their own.

It began nearly two years ago after Mrs. Kannan's stepmother in Arlington, Va., died.

Mrs. Kannan's stepsister, Janice, a nun in Philadelphia, had taken a leave of absence to care for her mother. After tying up loose ends, it came time to return to the convent, but she needed a home for her mother's dog.

Mia, a lab and poodle mix, came to live with the Kannans in July 2003. The ride to Goldsboro was uneventful, Mrs. Kannan said. Once home, though, Mia seemed a skittish and slept under the bed the first night.

The dog seemed to be adjusting to her new surroundings, the couple said. Then, while on a Sunday night walk, Mia became tangled in her lead. Mrs. Kannan said that instead of bending down to adjust it, she attempted to re-snap it. At that same time, someone in the area started a lawn mower, spooking the dog.

Mia bolted.

They were only three blocks from the Kannans' home on Pineview Avenue in Goldsboro.

The couple began an avid search.

"We had some guilt," Kannan said. "They had entrusted the dog with us. We only had it three days when it was lost."

Mia had a collar and identification tag around her neck but the tag still had the Virginia phone numbers of her previous owner and veterinarian. The Virginia house was now empty, but Kannan said they kept the phone hooked up in case someone tried to call about the missing dog. They also notified the veterinarian there about the situation.

"Sherlock Bones," a California-based organization that specializes in finding lost dogs, was also put on the case.

"He has a list a mile long of famous movie stars' dogs he's found," Mrs. Kannan said.

The organization offered suggestions on how to conduct a search and created posters for the Kannans. The posters were sent to every local veterinarian within 25 miles, as well as groomers.

The couple received a call from Mount Olive and Smithfield, but neither panned out.

"The trail got cold the day she bolted," Kannan said.

Sister Janice and another nun came to Goldsboro and stayed at the Kannans' for a week to help with the search.

"They talked to people in yards, UPS, postmen," Kannan said. "The area was canvassed thoroughly by two nuns and Beth and I."

Mrs. Kannan joked that they managed to have a lot of fun.

"We teased them that they had divine help in finding the dog," she said.

But there was never a sighting, never a call, Kannan said.

"It was just like she disappeared off the face of the earth," Mrs. Kannan said.

Recently, Anita Hajjar, a friend active of the Kannans who is in the Humane Society and Welfare of Our Furry Friends, asked if they had ever found the missing dog.

"I told her, 'I don't feel like it's put to bed yet but I pray it's found a good home,'" she said.

Later, Ms. Hajjar mentioned something the Kannans might want to consider.

"She said she passed by the bus station and kept seeing this dog," Mrs. Kannan said. " 'I know it's not your dog but I'm trying to get it to come to me,' she said."

Ms. Hajjar had also taken food to the dog and managed to snap some pictures.

"We looked at one picture and said, 'That's Mia,'" Mrs. Kannan said. "I called Anita and she told me where the dog was."

The Monday after Thanksgiving, Mrs. Kannan went to the location and spotted the dog.

"We couldn't get it to come to us," she said. "It was a good city block away."

She said she returned every day that week, taking food, water and a blanket Mia had slept on. She went armed with binoculars and stationed herself near the bus station.

"I could see she didn't have the tags on at that point," she said.

She still wasn't completely sure it was Mia. But she also couldn't give up just yet.

"At that point, even if it wasn't Mia, I had decided I'd like to take care of that dog," she said.

The temperatures were dropping and she was concerned about the animal's safety. She contacted the animal shelter about how to catch a dog.

"They were very helpful," Kannan said.

"They came out and brought a cage and showed me how to trap it," Mrs. Kannan added.

Barbecue was suggested as good bait because of its strong smell, she said, so Wilber's restaurant donated some for the cause.

Mrs. Kannan said she had watched the dog for a week and knew its routine well enough to proceed with a plan. One Friday morning, she and her husband embarked on their mission.

"The cage was set up and we spread out the barbecue with a trail leading up to it," Mrs. Kannan said. "Jack took clippers and we cut branches and disguised the cage."

She had to leave briefly to go home. When she returned 15 minutes later, she scanned the field and then looked at the cage.

There was Mia.

"I squatted down and said, 'Hey, Mia.' And her little tail started wagging. She licked my hand."

The dog was taken to the vet, where she was examined and had to be shaved because her coat was matted. The dog was missing a tooth and had a scar on the right side of her belly.

"The more I was around her, the more I felt certain it was her," Mrs. Kannan said. "This just confirmed it."

The Kannans say the main concerns for Mia now are heartworms and helping her regain her strength. She lost about half of her body weight during the time away, Kannan said.

Mia was returned home again last week. She has settled in pretty well so far, the Kannans said.

"She used to be a picky eater, but not now," Kannan said. "Another difference is that she was skittish when we got her but she's had an attitude adjustment and seems more comfortable with people."

"She took the stairs two steps at a time this week," Mrs. Kannan added. "And we've seen her take a bone in her mouth, toss it up five or six feet in the air.

"As far as we can tell, she's fine. In a way, it's almost like she didn't miss a beat."

It's still a mystery how the 12-year-old dog survived for nearly a year and a half on its own. Even so, the Kannans said they never quite gave up hope of finding their charge.

"There was something in my heart," Mrs. Kannan said. "About three months ago, cleaning out the paperwork and vet information, I almost threw everything away about her tests and such. I was not quite ready."

Now she says, "Everybody cries when they hear about it."

"It's the best Christmas present we have got this year," Kannan said.