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|06-08-2009, 07:30 AM||#1|
No Longer a Member
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Wildcat Country(KY)
Blog Entries: 26
[News] Widower finds family dogs after wife's fatal crash
By JOSHUA WOLFSON
Star-Tribune staff writer
Friday, June 5, 2009 7:46 PM
The tow truck drove off at 2 a.m., leaving him alone in the empty prairie where his wife had died hours before.
Greg Wong could hear her voice in his head. Find those dogs. Find Sammie and Maddie.
"What are they going to do?" he thought. "They are out in the wild and they are such tiny dogs."
The trooper had called him with the news three hours earlier. Susan Wong had died when her Isuzu Rodeo rolled along Wyoming Highway 487. Her sport utility vehicle rolled three times along the road, then fell into a deep ravine.
During the phone call, the trooper mentioned someone had spotted a dog running down the highway after the crash.
Greg Wong realized that at least one of the two dogs his wife had been traveling with might still be alive. Within a half hour, he had showered, brewed a pot of coffee and began the drive from his Laramie home to the crash site 40 miles south of Casper.
When he arrived, he met the tow truck operators who had just pulled his wife's Rodeo out of the ravine. After they left, he began to search.
"I guess a lot of it didn't soak in," he said. "I knew that is where my wife died, but you get to that point where you almost turn into a zombie. You are afraid to start thinking about it too much because emotionally you can't handle it. I kept focusing on 'you have to find those dogs.' In a way, I was thinking my last connection to my wife was those dogs."
He slowly drove the highway, using a portable spotlight to search the area. When that didn't work, he got out of his car, and walked through the night.
He found no sign of the animals.
Susan Wong was just a few hours from home when the crash occurred. She had been driving back from Butte, Mont. and had her terriers, Sammie and Maddie, along for the trip.
At about 7:30 p.m. on May 30, while traveling south on Highway 487, she slammed on the brakes and steered to the left, causing the rollover. Investigators still don't know why she made the sudden maneuver.
Greg Wong had spoken to his wife an hour before the crash. When she failed to arrive, the 49-year-old purchasing agent called the Wyoming Highway Patrol. After an excruciating wait, a trooper called back and told him what had happened.
"I guess words can't describe it," said Wong, who'd been married to his wife for nearly 11 years. "You are not sure what to do. The cold hard reality is there is nothing you can do."
What am I going to do now? he thought. Almost immediately he had an answer.
Susan Wong had loved animals, and always kept dogs and cats as pets. He had to find Sammie and Maddie. Now.
When he arrived at the crash site, the animals were nowhere to be found. He came across debris from the crash, but no sign of either animal. Sometime early that morning, he drove home.
Wong didn't give up. He returned to the crash site the next day, taking with him Tony Munari, a friend who served as best man at the Wongs' wedding. He also brought along the dogs' toys.
He walked up and down the highway, calling for his pets and squeaking their toys.
He believed the dogs were still alive. Their remains hadn't been found inside the Rodeo or around the crash site. Still, he couldn't find any trace of the animals.
There was plenty of reason to be worried. The area is full of coyotes and rattlesnakes and the terriers didn't have experience fending for themselves.
Wong got his first break when he stopped at a rest area four miles from the crash site and met a foreman for a highway maintenance crew.
The foreman volunteered to search the area himself. His wife also went to the site and left cheeseburgers, in case the pets needed something to eat.
Wong's next break came Monday when someone at the animal shelter in Laramie suggested he call Cold Nose Investigators, a professional dog service whose canines search for cadavers, missing people and lost pets.
By that afternoon, he had met up with the Cathy and Curt Orde, the couple behind Cold Nose Investigators. They brought with them Zoe, a golden retriever whose owner gave her up after Hurricane Katrina.
Zoe might look like a typical family pet, but she has received special training to focus on a specific scent and track it to its source.
After getting a whiff of the terriers' bed, she immediately picked up a their trail near the crash site.
Zoe and Cathy Orde led the way. It had just rained, and thick mud and the rugged terrain hindered their progress. Still, the golden retriever stayed on the scent and led the group on a two and 1/2 mile trek.
" I trust Zoe's nose," Cathy Orde said. "This is what she's been trained for. She doesn't deviate from that scent. She stays on task."
They began to come across signs of the tiny terriers. First they saw dog tracks, then dog excrement. They also saw evidence the terriers had bedded down in the grass.
The party made a large loop away from the highway, then back again. They traveled under a culvert, through a ravine and then back onto the highway.
It was starting to get dark, so they began to set up a kennel near the crash site with food, bedding and clothes with the Wongs' scents.
"We are just getting ready to finish up and all of the sudden, my little Cairn Terrier pops her head up from just around the side of a bush," Wong said.
It was Maddie.
Wong felt elated. The dog appeared to be fine, save for irritated paws. The group figured Sammie was nearby, so they started the search again.
His trail led to a dry creek bed and the party couldn't find a safe way down. They decided to call it quits for the night.
The next day, they received some good news. Two women had spotted Sammie in the area. Wong and the Ordes returned to the area and began searching again.
Zoe picked up the trail at the spot where Sammie was last seen. The scent led back to the crash site, then to a ravine and through a culvert. Suddenly, Zoe made a quick turn to the left and stuck her nose into a hole in the side of a drainage.
Sammie appeared to be inside.
"We suspected he was in there," Wong said. "But he wouldn't come out."
The group decided to set up a trap near the crash site and baited it with food and other items. Then they left for the night.
The next morning, Cathy Orde received a call from the foreman. He had found a dog in the trap.
For the fifth consecutive day, Wong left Laramie and headed north. When he reached the foreman's shop, he went inside and found his missing terrier happy and healthy.
"It was just the most amazing thing," Wong said. "Once Sammie saw me, he came running to the front of the cage and started licking my finger."
Sammie, a Yorkshire terrier, is usually reserved around strangers.
"But that day, he loved everybody," Wong said. "Everybody was his friend."
After a few days at home, Sammie was running around as if nothing had ever happened. Maddie, in contrast, seemed more reserved than she had been. Maybe she was mulling over what happened to her mother, Wong speculated.
Finding the dogs, he said, offered him some comfort as he mourned his wife. It allowed the emotions surrounding her death to soak in, rather than knock him over as if he had run into a brick wall.
"It made my wife's death a little easier to take," he said. "I didn't have to bear it all at once. I had a mission."
Casper Star-Tribune Online - Casper
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|06-08-2009, 08:35 AM||#4|
Senior Yorkie Talker
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Derby, KS
I'm so happy their babies will be there for him & that he is there for them. Mrs. Wong's spirit must have been with her babies while they were being searched for and kept them safe. Bless them all.
|06-08-2009, 09:56 AM||#5|
Donating Senior Yorkie Talker
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oakland, CA, USA
Blog Entries: 3
Oh my, what a story... My heart is breaking for his wife, but I am so happy happy he managed to find his furbabies.
Mommy to Princess LuLu & Trezzi, the Little Treasure
|06-08-2009, 10:58 AM||#6|
Donating YT 1000 Club Member
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: With my yorkies
He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. -- Author Unknown
|06-08-2009, 11:21 AM||#8|
Senior Yorkie Talker
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Easton, MA
Wow what an amazing story!
Jennifer ~Single mum to Ella (6yr) and Willy our amazon parrott... And now Mama of 2 new Baby Yorkie Girls, Prada and Lexi 11wks old
|06-08-2009, 11:24 AM||#9|
Luv my Angel, too!
Join Date: Apr 2006
Sissy & Angel
|06-08-2009, 12:11 PM||#10|
YT 500 Club Member
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Sahuarita, Arizona
That is some story. My heart hurts for Mr. Wong and his furbabies. Glad they have eachother. Zoe is a hero!
|06-09-2009, 05:52 AM||#11|
Senior Yorkie Talker
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Wesley Chapel, Florida
That is so sad.
Don't you know never to let a vampire in your house!
Lestat Born June 10th 2008
|06-09-2009, 07:06 AM||#12|
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Morehead, KY
Thank goodness that Mr. Wong never gave up on his misson, although my heart breaks for him. Zoe is a godsend.
Kitten & Hiro
|06-09-2009, 07:27 AM||#13|
Piper & Sebastian
Join Date: Jul 2007
What a sad story. He must have really loved his wife to put that much effort into finding her beloved dogs.
Susan, Piper ,Harley & Suiki
|06-09-2009, 07:34 AM||#14|
Gizzy & Kandi spoil me
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Waco, Texas
oh wow...talk about mixed emotions
The fullness of our heart is expressed in our eyes, in our touch, in what we write, in what we say, in the way we walk, the way we receive, the way we need. -Mother Teresa ( RIP Gizmo 3/9/07-8/18/12)
|06-09-2009, 07:38 AM||#15|
YT 500 Club Member
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Castro Valley, Ca. USA
This story made my heart ache. What a special and loving man this guy is to not give up on the search.
I'm Donna. DH is Mike, son is Grant & is Gunnar
WE all Gunnar Lee . 7.9Lbs of lovable Terror