Monday, February 26, 2007

St. Paul Pioneer Press 2/25

Since I just got done house sitting two rat terriers, this story hit me harder than usual...

Deaf woman counts on dog, but he's gone
BY JOHN BREWER Pioneer Press

Rosana Plaza just wants her dog back.

Plaza, a Hammond resident, is deaf, and Fluke, the trained dog who acts as her ears, went missing two weeks ago while being cared for in St. Paul.

The unbearable part for Plaza is that Fluke was found the same day he ran off — and then turned over to an unidentified couple in North Minneapolis before he could be checked in to an animal shelter.

Now the dog, a white rat terrier with brown and black spots, could be anywhere.

"I guess basically my dog was given to a stranger," Plaza said through an interpreter.

Fluke was at her son's home in the North End neighborhood of St. Paul and ran off during a walk Feb. 5.

He had stayed at her son's home before, Plaza said. This was the first time the dog, who could respond to sign language, had bolted.

Plaza said she trained the 3½-year-old dog to hear what she couldn't, like a ringing phone, a running faucet or a knock at the door. Fluke once alerted Plaza that her daughter was violently ill in the bathroom. Without the dog, she wouldn't have known, she said.

"The dog went right up to the bathroom door and stayed there. He would not leave, whatsoever," she said.

He also has awakened her with licks when the light bulb on her alarm clock burned out.

Rania Armstrong didn't know any of that when she chased down the cute dog near her North End home.

"It was really cold that day," she said, explaining why she ran after Fluke.

She held onto Fluke for three days and even called the veterinarian listed on the dog's rabies vaccination tag to find out who owned him. Armstrong said the Baldwin, Wis., animal hospital gave her a phone number to call. When she did, the woman who answered said she had no idea what Armstrong was talking about.

"I didn't call that number back," she said.

It turns out the number would have reached Plaza — had Armstrong first called a toll-free number for an interpreting service. Instead, she reached another home in Hammond.
Armstrong decided the best thing to do was turn the dog over to an animal shelter. While visiting family in North Minneapolis on Feb. 7, she said, she stopped by the city's Animal Care and Control center.

Before she could turn Fluke over, an older couple approached her and offered to take him. They were looking for a present for their 8-year-old grandson, Armstrong recalled.

Fluke was still wearing his collar, according to Armstrong, when the couple drove off in their pickup truck. The unidentified pair didn't appear concerned that the dog might have an owner looking for him, she said.

"They were more happy to just get the dog," she said.

The next day, Armstrong saw an ad in the Pioneer Press: "LOST M tri-color rat terrier 2/5 @ Como/Front 'Fluke' Deaf-owner trained."

She called Plaza and told her what had happened.

"I really do pray to God that she finds her dog. I just lost my dog, too, so that stuff hurt me," she said.

Plaza is still baffled about the turn of events — the dog running off, the veterinary hospital giving out the incomplete phone number, the mystery couple taking the dog in Minneapolis — and hopes that news coverage will help to speed Fluke's return.

"I'm really frustrated because I don't understand what's going on. I'm a little concerned about how difficult it is to get in touch with me because I'm hearing-impaired," Plaza said. "I want my dog back. He's a good dog."

If you have any information about Fluke, please call Plaza at 1-866-327-8877; then give the interpreter the home number of 715-796-5422.

"Hopefully, this all works out," she said. "If not … I'd rather not think about that."

No comments: