Lucky dog: ‘Spanky’ found after 3 weeks lost in brutal cold

DOVER — There is probably no worse or helpless feeling that Dover’s Sarah Kathryn has ever experienced than hearing the wind howl on Monday night as the temperatures dropped down to single digits and wind chills sank below zero degrees.

That’s because her dog Spanky, a 13-year-old Yorkie Chihuahua mix, had been missing for three weeks and was all alone out in the deep freeze.

As much as Mrs. Kathryn tossed and turned and worried that night, she celebrated on Thursday afternoon. That’s when Alexis Nazario and Alecia McCoy found her beloved fur baby hunkered down beneath a porch at a house in the Windswept development, two miles from his home in Fairfield Farms.

“I’ve felt all kinds of emotions over the past couple of weeks,” Mrs. Kathryn said. “We’ve felt helpless, optimistic, scared for him and hopeful that he would be reunited. It was just a whole whirlwind of emotions. With it being so cold this week I’ve seen lots of stuff on the internet telling you to bring your dogs in and I couldn’t, and that’s what was so difficult.

“Now I’m on a high. It hasn’t sunk in yet that he’s home. Such a happy ending for our family.”

Spanky got to visit the veterinarian on Thursday after he was reunited with his family and didn’t show any signs of hypothermia or frostbite. However, he did lose a lot of weight during his three-week journey around Dover.

“We just need to fatten him up now,” said Mrs. Kathryn.

People following Spanky’s adventures on social media were ecstatic to hear of his reunion with his family.

“So happy he is home!,” Sarah Rife wrote. “Can’t believe such a small dog made it through this weather, he is a survivor!”

It was definitely quite an experience for the little dog.

Sarah Kathryn and her son Nolan holding Spanky.

Mrs. Kathryn said there is a hole in her fence where Spanky probably got out on Jan. 11. She was in San Francisco when it happened.

“Maybe he was wondering where I was and went looking for me,” she said. “We’re not 100 percent sure how or why he got out. He doesn’t even usually like to be in the grass unless he’s out going to the bathroom. Then it’s right back inside for him.”

It didn’t matter how it happened, all that Mrs. Kathryn knew was that she had to find him. After all, she got the dog when she was 15-years-old and they have been through many of life’s ordeals together.

“On Thursday, these two girls Alexis (Nazario) and Alecia (McCoy) called me and said they would be out there in Windswept looking for him,” she said. “They started looking for Spanky at eight in the morning and they were out four hours walking around and then finally found him underneath a deck at around noon on Thursday.”

Mrs. Kathryn said she was impressed by the community’s desire to help her track down her dog.

“I am humbled by how amazingly supportive the community has been,” she said. “Complete strangers, family, co-workers and friends have spent countless hours out searching for him and spreading the word. Businesses and schools allowed us to hang flyers. I can’t even count how many phone calls and texts I received with well wishes and support. I wish I could thank every single person individually.”

Over the past three weeks there have been signs that Spanky was around, but nobody could ever quite track him down.

Mrs. Kathryn credited La Mar Gunn Sr. with helping narrow down what had seemed like “a wild goose chase.”

Mr. Gunn tried to lure Spanky by cooking bacon and lighting a fire, hoping the warmth would attract the dog. His efforts paid off in a big way on Thursday.

“We cooked bacon over a campfire and kept it going throughout the night,” he said. “Alexis (Nazario) and Alecia (McCoy) went out (around) lunch and spotted him just feet away from where we’d set-up a heat/feeding station.”

It was a far cry from just a day before for Mr. Gunn.

“I feel so bad for this family,” Mr. Gunn posted on social media on Wednesday. “I spotted Spanky limping through my backyard and immediately tried to convince him to come. However, he hobbled behind my neighbor’s house and along the St. Jones River.”

It was those sporadic dog sightings over the past three weeks that kept Mrs. Kathryn’s hope alive, even in the coldest of weather conditions.

“I never gave up,” she said. “I knew he was out there somewhere. The little guy is a trooper. Everyone is so amazing and I am speechless. I am forever grateful. Spanky is doing well and is happy to be home.”

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