The Central Virginian

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Louisa miracle dog returns home to his owners

Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 5:00 am

Gus, one of two purebred bloodhounds owned by Rebekah Swift and Monk Winston, disappeared from his home in late November. The female, Lola, was found quickly near the family’s home. But it was two weeks before Gus made it back home 35 pounds lighter and with an injured leg. He is making swift progress after one of his legs was amputated.

Rebekah Swift was at work on Nov. 27 when a neighbor messaged her asking if both her dogs were at home. Swift was an hour away, and told her neighbor that she wasn’t sure, but that her daughter would be home soon to check.

When her daughter didn’t send her a text message around 4:15 p.m., she knew something was amiss.

“I called her at 4:23 and she answered the phone crying,” Swift said. “She said ‘I can’t find Gus anywhere.’ She was crying so hard, I could barely understand her.”

Gus is one of two purebred bloodhounds that Swift owns with her fiance, Monk Winston. People who have owned or worked around a bloodhound know that they will follow a scent to the end of the earth.

Swift’s 12-year-old daughter, Kaylee Franck, got help from one of their neighbors who reported that a section of the family’s fence was laying on the ground and the dogs were nowhere to be seen.

“I had seen a post [on Facebook] and knew it was my dog right away and my heart dropped,” Swift said.

Soon, the search for the bloodhounds was underway. Lola, the other bloodhound, was found near the home and returned quickly. Gus, however, was nowhere to be found.

“We looked everywhere for Gus,” Swift said. “We made flyers, rode the roads everyday, had friends helping us look and everything.”

The hours turned into days, then weeks. Finally, exactly two weeks after Gus disappeared, Swift awoke to the sound of scratching at the door.

“We thought it was our female needing to go outside,” she said. “I went out and saw Lola sleeping on the couch, and as I was walking down the hallway, I heard it again. I ran to the door and pulled back the curtain and found Gus standing in the snow on the back porch.”

As happy and relieved as the family was to have their dog back home, the danger wasn’t over yet.

“He was very thin and one of his legs was badly injured,” Swift said. “You could take one look at him and tell he needed to be rushed to the vet’s office.”

When they saw the vet, the true toll of what had happened became clearer. He weighed well over 100 pounds when he went missing, but weighed in at just under 65 pounds at the vet’s office. His leg had multiple fractures and had become infected.

This is a partial article. Read the full story in The Central Virginian’s Dec. 20, 2018 issue.

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