Sweet reunion for Idaho family with dog lost in Walla Walla

Susie, a 11/2-year-old poodle, was separated from her family on Aug. 31.

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WALLA WALLA -- Diligent Good Samaritans helped Susie, a small, frightened poodle lost Aug. 31, reunite with family members Friday at the Blue Mountain Humane Society shelter.

Susie, 11/2, became separated from owners Joy and Aaron Barela of Aberdeen, Idaho. The couple and their children, Colton, 7; Gavin, 6; Zoe, 5; and Sophia, 2, (whose first word was "Susie"), were in town to visit Aaron's uncle and aunt, Craig and Debbie Potter.

The Potters have dogs, so during the August visit, Susie stayed in the Barelas' vehicle. But "I left the window open too much and she jumped out," Joy Barela recalled.

The Potters helped the Barelas search.

"It was horrible. We looked for eight hours and stayed an extra day looking for her," Joy said.

They made a missing dog report with the shelter.

"We have missed her something fierce. We're so blessed she was found and can't wait to come get her," Barela said in a telephone interview.

Because the Barelas were unable to make the trip to Walla Walla for the time being, Craig Potter was to pick Susie up Friday morning for a later reunion with the Barelas. The Barelas live about eight to 10 hours from Walla Walla in southern Idaho.

"We caught her (Thursday) morning after a long, determined search," said Sallie McCullough, city animal control officer. "Groups of volunteers and myself worked together to rescue her," she said.

"It's miraculous that the doggie survived so long," McCullough said.

Cathy Scott of Good Samaritan Ministries saw the little black, white and tan "parti" poodle in the field near her office and knew it shouldn't be there, McCullough said. "She took food to it. But it was so fearful she couldn't get near it."

"Sallie was just really great, persistent and diligent and cared about our dog," Barela said.

Traps were set and volunteer Sharon Osborn checked them all night, McCullough said. Susie was finally caught Oct. 8.

"She was so afraid. She'd been up there on her own for a month. People from Abajian were leaving their lunch for her," McCullough said.

McCullough called Barela on Wednesday and asked if the dog was still missing. "I couldn't stop crying when the pictures arrived (Thursday). Sallie is like our little hero, she's amazing. I would love to meet Cathy and thank her, too."

Susie was rescued from a prior abusive situation and was very happy in their home, Joy said.

"I've had a permanent smile on my face since (Sallie) called this morning. I'm so excited."

Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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