Social media sparked effort to find dog

MARQUETTE – Ishpeming resident Amber Rude was craving a cupcake and made a run from her home to get one Sunday afternoon, checking Facebook while she was at the bakery.

Rude’s sister, Jaceley, had shared an item from a Facebook page called Lost & Found Paws of the U.P. about a dog named Gracie who that afternoon had run from her owner’s car after a traffic accident on M-28 near Deerton.

“I wanted to run out and drive around there right away. My mom (Brenda, who lives in Harvey) wanted to go, too, so I went to get her.”

Through the Facebook posting, Rude was able to contact search organizers, then talked to Cathy Wilson, Gracie’s human mother who lives in downstate Shepherd.

“Then I called (Scott Wilson, who was driving the car) and we picked him up from the hotel where he had gone, because we thought Gracie might come to him better.”

The group joined a band of searchers near Deerton, staying out until close to 2 a.m. Monday looking for the lost, scared dog.

“We could see signs of her,” Rude said. “Catherine Kimar was out on snowshoes looking and saw tracks of Gracie in the woods. … The tracks ended up at a residence on M-28.”

Authorities requested the search be halted for a bit as some people were getting separated from the group and temporarily lost, Rude said.

“I have to say, my bones were frozen when we stopped,” she said.

Through Lost & Found Paws, another search was organized for Monday afternoon in the same general area. Gracie was frightened and tired, searchers knew. Eventually, she was spotted and nearly captured. But she was too afraid to get into the car of a rescuer who got close.

“Kerri (Willey) from Lost Paws saw Gracie at a vacant home where she was scratching at the front door, but she got scared and ran off again,” Rude said.

Volunteers decided to back off the search, which was scaring the dog, and set a live trap for her.

“For a while, I went back to my parents house, which is about 8 miles away, then Kerri called and asked me to come out, so my mom and I did,” Rude said. “Gracie had been on the north side of M-28 all day, then she crossed the highway and walked into a house.”

That house, which is near the accident site, belongs to Kirsten Englund, who walked out on her porch only to see the dog standing there. Englund knew of the search.

“My boyfriend had joined in the search for awhile,” Englund said. “When I saw the dog, she started to walk away. I had to think to remember her name, but then when I did call her she stopped in her tracks and came back toward me.”

Trying not to spook the dog, Englund spoke to her gently and Gracie allowed her to grab the leash.

“I got her to come inside,” Englund said. “I felt so bad for Gracie. It was such a cold, cold night. What she had to go through. Poor thing.”

She called the owner, whose number was on Gracie’s collar, who contacted the searchers.

Amber Rude went to Englund’s home to pick up the dog, bringing her to Bayshore Veterinary Clinic to be assessed and to be reunited with her owner, Scott Wilson.

For Rude, the experience was uplifting.

“I love dogs, all animals, really. My dog likes to bolt and if he was missing, I would hope someone would help me if he was lost,” she said. “I met some great people out there looking for Gracie. It was great to see people come together like that.”

Kimar, who spent a total of about 10 hours on snowshoes helping in the search, said it’s something she was happy to do, deflecting any individual praise.

“It was more the efforts of everyone involved that made it amazing. Any one of us couldn’t have done it alone,” Kimar said. “I became involved because despite the dangerous low temperatures, it was heartbreaking to think of a lost dog in an unfamiliar place searching for her owner, but just getting more cold and tired with each step. As a dog owner, I would want to know someone was out searching for my dog if I couldn’t.”

For Lost & Found’s Willey, the search for Gracie was special.

“I would like to say one thing,” Willey said. “I’ve helped in many dog searches and the community support on this case was unmatched and heartwarming. Once I organized the search, throughout the day I met and spoke with so many caring people.

“I only wish EVERY lost animal got this much support.”

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.