The owners of a scruffy brown dog who made headlines last week got an extra-special Christmas gift this year – they were reunited with the lost pooch after nearly six months.
The dog gained fame and won the adoration of countless fans after being rescued by a trio of UC Merced staff members. The good Samaritans took care of the shivering pooch on the university’s campus for nearly two months.
But on Christmas Eve, the little dog was returned to his original owner, a Merced woman who asked to remain anonymous.
Helga Weiss, owner and founder of Little Dinosaur Rescue in La Grange, took care of the stray canine, named LBD, short for Little Brown Dog, for about a week after his campus rescue. After the animal’s journey was chronicled in the Sun-Star and on the rescue’s Facebook page, Weiss said she got phone calls from seven people claiming to be his owner.
“It took us a while to figure out the people that were being honest and those that were jumping at the publicity,” Weiss said, adding that many of the people coming forward couldn’t provide pictures or veterinary records.
Weiss said she kept a detailed list of the dog’s unique physical attributes, including scars, deformities and nicks on his ears, things only the real owner would know. The owner, in her mid-20s, was able to correctly identify those traits.
“She literally stated every single thing that I had written down about this dog,” Weiss said. The woman provided many pictures of the pooch, but Weiss said she spent three days verifying ownership. “We ended up calling the vet, other family members and went to her house to make sure LBD felt comfortable going back to his original owner.”
LBD’s real name is Mutley, Weiss said, and after escaping from his owner’s backyard six months ago he was relieved to be home.
“He ended up running straight out of the crate and running to his owner,” she said. “As soon as he heard the owner’s voice, his tail started wagging, and you could tell that the dog was happy to be home.”
Weiss said she plans follow-up visits with Mutley and his owner, saying she understands why the woman wants to remain anonymous. “A lot of people were criticizing her dog ownership and that’s something we wouldn’t want for her,” Weiss said. “It was an accident. It wasn’t like she threw him out on the curb.
“She wants to leave all the fame to LBD,” Weiss added. “She just wanted her dog back.”
Denice Sawatzky, interlibrary loan coordinator at UC Merced, played an integral part in rescuing Mutley nearly two weeks ago. Although it was emotional to say goodbye to the lovable dog, Sawatzky said she’s happy to see him returned home.
“It’s been very hard, because I took care of him , and I was the only one he would come to,” Sawatzky said. “I just hope that he’s not a dog that’s forgotten in the backyard once the novelty wears off. I just hope for the best for him.”
As for Weiss, she said she hopes the 55 people who contacted her to adopt Mutley will open their hearts to one of the other dogs at the rescue.
“There’s quite a few others dogs that would love that bed as much as him,” Weiss said, adding her rescue is holding an adoption event this weekend. “We’ve got dogs with stories that are far worse than his. We’re hoping some of those people will come and open their homes to another dog.”