Lost dog found after extensive search

  • Eli, a nearly 3-year-old vizsla who lives in Stratford, Conn., with owner Edwin Naval, is much thinner than he was before he went missing, but appears to be otherwise healthy, says his owner. Contributed photo

  • Eli, a nearly 3-year-old vizsla who lives in Stratford, Conn., with owner Edwin Naval, went missing in Northfield in June and was found in Orange on July 30 after being missing for 36 days. Contributed photo

  • Eli, a nearly 3-year-old vizsla who lives in Stratford, Conn., with owner Edwin Naval, is shown before he went missing in Northfield in June. Contributed photo

  • Edwin Naval, of Stratford, Conn., poses with his dog, Eli, after Eli was found in Orange on July 30 after having disappeared from bird hunting training in Northfield on June 24. Contributed photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/31/2017 9:34:00 PM

ORANGE — A show dog that had been on the run for more than a month is back with his owner.

Eli, a vizsla, went missing June 24 from a property in Northfield where he was being trained in bird hunting. It was Edwin Naval, Eli’s owner, who finally found him, with the help of the volunteer organization Missing Dogs Massachusetts, by Lake Mattawa on Sunday.

Eli was missing for 36 days.

“I lost it. I was crying when he approached me,” Naval said from his Stratford, Conn., home on Monday. “It was really an amazing experience. Thank God.”

Naval said Eli is much thinner than he was when before he went missing, but appears to be otherwise healthy. Naval said he plans to bring his four-legged friend to a veterinarian today.

“I’m just so glad that my dog is back home,” he said.

Naval said Missing Dogs Massachusetts was vital in finding Eli after a professional tracker he hired failed to locate the dog. MDM is a network of volunteers that work to reunite lost canines with their human families. MDM volunteer Deb Bachrach, who lives in Petersham, said it is not uncommon for professional trackers, who use trained dogs to find lost dogs, to intimidate other canines out of an area.

Bachrach said she was recruited about two weeks ago to map Eli’s route based on every sighting of him reported. She also said stations with food dogs would find appealing were set up in various locations and were equipped with cameras that transmitted images to her computer and smartphone.

Bachrach said Eli made repeated stops in Erving, Wendell and Orange.

“This is what dogs usually do. They have a loop, and they’re never more than three or four miles from their loop, their route,” she said. “They tend to follow a route.”

Naval said he and a friend visited Lake Mattawa after learning Eli had been there. The two spotted the dog and managed to “corner him” so he would not flee.

“He saw me ... and we were looking at each other and he was sniffing the air and I could tell he was trying to scent me,” Naval recalled. “I just called to him and he ran to me.”

Naval said he had as many as 10 friends helping him over the torturous 36 days. He said Eli escaped when the trainer let him out for “morning potty.”

Bachrach said it is always a wonderful feeling to reunite a dog with its owner. She said she is an animal lover married to a veterinarian and has owned dogs her entire adult life.

Naval said Eli is a grand champion show dog who competed in the Westminster Dog Show in February. Footage of Naval and Eli competing at Westminster can be viewed on YouTube at bit.ly/2udlMne. Naval said he hopes to enter Eli in next year’s contest.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 258.
On Twitter: @DomenicPoli


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