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Missing Franklin Chihuahua survives storms, cold, before being brought home

Union Leader Correspondent

February 05. 2015 2:16PM
Kevin and Tammee Regan and their dog, Joey, who was found after being lost in the blizzard and cold temperatures for 24 days in Franklin. (DAN SEUFERT/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

FRANKLIN — Kevin and Tammee Regan were enjoying the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory Sunday night when a knock came at their door.

In came a friend carrying a dog cage. In the cage was a soaking wet, weary, somewhat bewildered Chihuahua named "Joey," the couple’s 3-year-old pup that wandered from home and was missing for 24 days.

The Regans were overjoyed and more than a little surprised. The couple and their children had been helped by neighbors in an exhaustive hunt, but they had all but given up that they’d find Joey.

It had been more than three weeks since Joey disappeared. It was a stretch to think that a nine-pound dog could survive on his own through a blizzard, several snow storms and days and nights with near-zero temperatures.

But there he was, in relatively good health, though he’d lost a pound.

“I didn’t believe it was him at first,” said Tammee Regan. “All that time, and people had seen him, we thought we caught him on video, but we were being realistic, there’s no way he would survive all that. I had given up.”

“We have eagles, hawks, fishercats and coyotes … there’s no way he’s still alive,” Kevin Regan said.

When the neighbor opened the door of the cage, a bewildered, confused Joey walked out.

“He went right up to Tammee and put his head on her lap,” he said.

Joey is one of six dogs the Regans own – three Chihuahuas and three Labrador Retrievers. On Jan. 8, while walking outside the family’s Liberty Avenue home, “he must have seen something, he just ran away,” Tammee Regan said.

At first they thought Joey would return on his own. But days became a week with no sign of him. The Regans decided to be more active in their search and started putting posters up around the neighborhood. People called with tips, but none of the tips led to Joey.

Then they called Granite State Dog Recovery, a non-profit group of volunteers that helped find more than 2,000 dogs in New Hampshire in 2014.

The recovery group put them in touch with volunteers, who set up feeding traps in the area, many of which used video cameras to record events at the traps.

They learned from the group that 90 percent of dogs that disappear “go into provider mode,” which means their survival instincts take over, said Holly Mokrzecki, one of the group.

“In their minds, humans become predators at that point, and they have to be trapped, it doesn’t matter what size they are,” Mokrzecki said.

The more “missing” posters the Regans put up, the more calls they got from people who had seen Joey. “We kept getting calls, but none of them led us to him,” Tammee Regan said.

At one feeding station, a camera had spied an animal that looked like Joey in the cage a few times. Also seen at the cage in the video was a coyote.

In one video shot, when Joey had decided to stay in the cage, a coyote was visible in the background, staring at the dog in the cage.

“That coyote was scary,” Tammee Regan said. “But on Saturday night, he slept in the cage,” and the cage door had closed. A volunteer, Jennifer Carrier, found Joey in her cage. She brought the dog home at the end of the Super Bowl.

“It just shows you that you should never give up hope,” Tammee Regan said.

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