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February 22. 2013 12:00PM

Friends, strangers search for lost dog in Londonderry


Max, a rescued German shepherd, has been missing in Londonderry since late January. Local animal lovers are hoping to bring him home before this weekend's snowstorm hits. (COURTESY)
LONDONDERRY - Strangers have become friends as the search continues for a young dog that lost his way in Londonderry several weeks ago.

On Jan. 27, Max, a just-adopted German shepherd dog from Vermont, was on the way to his new home in Bedford when his owner had to make one quick stop at the Exit 5 bus terminal.

The frightened canine bolted from the car and has been on the lam ever since, according to volunteer Patricia Jacobsen.

Jacobsen, who lives in Auburn, first met Max's new mom, Elizabeth, during her daily bus commute to her job in Boston.

She said Elizabeth, who wishes to keep her last name private, had driven three hours that day to retrieve Max from a rescue organization and since the dog's disappearance, she's been deeply concerned for her new pet's safety.

A volunteer at the Pelham's Animal Rescue Network, Jacobsen and her husband, Mark, began making some calls as more and more people stepped up in hopes of bringing Max home.

One caring stranger slept at the bus station the night of Max's disappearance, while others began investigating reported Max sightings.

About a week after Max ran off, someone spotted the pup near the bus maintenance area, then again near the Yard restaurant towards the Manchester town line.

Another week went by and Max was spotted in the Shaw's parking lot on Route 102.

Just this past weekend, someone saw a dog that looked a lot like Max wandering along Perimeter Road, near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Feeding stations were set up at all places where Max was believed to have frequented, but efforts to capture the wayward pup have so far been unsuccessful.

Earlier this week some children playing outside the KinderCare daycare center on Route 102 caught sight of Max lying in a wooded knoll behind the daycare.

Jacobsen said a school staff member contacted the local animal control officer, but not before Max ran off again.

"He's a very skittish dog and probably very frightened by his ordeal," she said. "We're encouraging people not to chase him if they see him."

The following day, Max was back in the same spot and this time Jacobsen was ready for him.

"I brought my biggest dog crate and set it up there with blankets and a bowl of food," she said.

On Thursday morning someone or something had eaten all the food, but no one is sure if that "someone" was Max.

However, caring neighbors have been following what they believe are Max's paw prints in the snow. The tracks have led volunteers through the nearby apple orchards and through the wooded areas behind the Shaw's and Market Basket shopping plazas.

On Friday, Elizabeth set up a humane dog trap in the area, and volunteers are holding out hope Max will be captured before Saturday evening's snowstorm hits.

"By all accounts, he's looking weak and very thin," Jacobsen said. "But the good news is we're establishing a routine with him and he seems to know where the food is. Hopefully he'll be caught soon."

Local dog lovers should avoid approaching Max or calling his name, as such efforts might only scare him away.
Anyone who believes they've spotted Max, believed to still be wearing a black collar, is asked to call local volunteer Cindy at 216-2261, Granite State Dog Recovery at 714-2855 or Londonderry Police Department at 432-1118.

AGuilmet@newstote.com

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