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Dog reunited with her family 10 months later

by RONALD W. ERDRICH Abilene Reporter-News on July 11, 2013 11:00 AM

TUSCOLA, Texas — There is an expression: When God closes a door, he opens a window.

Even if you don’t hold that faith, that doesn’t mean the concept doesn’t hold true.

In life, you never know what’s around the corner. Even if events look their darkest, something unexpected and wonderful can still occur.

Just ask Eric and Sara Dodd.

They live six miles east of Tuscola, deep in ranch country. Their home perches on a hill overlooking a rocky, rolling landscape. They moved there from the Dallas-Fort Worth area because they believed their kids could benefit from the same rural childhood they had known.

But after six months, Sara became ill. So they sent their dog Sukoshi, a white Great Pyrenees, to live with Eric’s parents in Big Lake, a town west of San Angelo more than 140 miles away. It was supposed to be just until Sara’s health recovered.

But Sukoshi didn’t like being separated from her family. Sara said the dog kept running away. Sukoshi and the local dogcatcher became well-acquainted.

“She escaped a couple of times but they always found her and brought her back,” Eric told the Abilene Reporter-News.

But one day Sukoshi didn’t come back. Days of not hearing a word about the dog’s whereabouts rolled into weeks, then months. It was hard on the Dodds, especially their young children, Rhett and his sister Reese.

“We all grieved for her; the kids kept praying she would come back,” Sara said. “It was so difficult.”

As the time stretched out, other concerns replaced the question of what had happened to Sukoshi. Sara had another child, a daughter named Rhyan.

Owners usually regard their pets as family members and Sukoshi was no different. Though she was gone, the scent of her personality lingered in Sara’s mind.

“It had been so long,” she said. “I had a dream that she came home and I woke up and told Eric.”

He told his wife he was sorry, but she had to understand that wasn’t going to happen. She knew he had to be right.

In January, her parents came to visit. It should have been a joyful occasion and it was, for a time.

“Her dad had a seizure,” Eric said. “That afternoon, we found out he had lung and brain cancer. It was devastating news.”

The following day, Eric was at the hospital with Sara’s dad, Pete Rixon, while Sara remained at home with her mother. Unexpectedly, she called him.

“You’re never going to guess who’s at the bottom of the hill,” Sara said.

Weak, dehydrated and skittish, a white Great Pyrenees watched her with wary eyes in the pasture next to the gate. It had been 10 months.

Eric wasn’t convinced.

“Sara, there’s a lot going on, I know you’re very emotional right now,” he told her. “Don’t get your hopes up, it’s not her. It doesn’t happen.”

But there was no doubt in Sara’s mind.

“I know this is my dog,” she said. “I can tell by her mannerisms.”

Her mother brought the kids down and they lured the dog in with bologna.

“She did answer to her name but she was so weak, she just laid there,” Sara said.

They brought Sukoshi to the house, separating her from their other dogs.

“We separated her at first because she was traumatized, I can imagine what she had gone through,” Sara said.

A trip to the vet revealed Sukoshi had a litter of pups during her journey. What became of them, no one knew.

“She slowly came back to her old self,” Sara said. “I would love to know if someone has seen her, kept her or took care of her while on her road from Big Lake to here.”

That breed of dog has a reputation for being good with children. Sara knows why.

“She was coming back to her kids,” she said. “I’m convinced that’s why she came back — because she guards and is very protective of them, and of me.”

It affirmed their faith, too.

“We think it was God saying, ‘Hey, don’t forget, you’re not in control here,’” Eric said.

Fifty-one days after Sukoshi’s return, Sara’s father died. The strange coincidence of the dog’s return took some of the edge off the roughness of those days.

“I think what made it the neatest was the timing,” said Eric. “Her dad had stage 4 lung and brain cancer one night, we’re all obviously crushed, it’s terminal, and the next morning Sukoshi shows up.”

Sara wiped a tear, one of several.

“We needed that miracle,” she said.

PHOTO: Sara Dodd pets one of her family's dogs, Sukoshi, an 8 year-old Great Pyrenees, with her children Rhett (left) and Reese Friday June 28, 2013. Sukoshi disappeared from her mother-in-law's home in Big Lake, over 140 miles away, and reappeared ten months later Feb. 1 at their home near Tuscola, Texas. AP PHOTO, RONALD W. ERDRICH, ABILENE REPORTER-NEWS.

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