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Community pulls together to help Freeland woman find lost dog

After being lost for five days on the NCR trail in Freeland, Sadie sacks out at home.
After being lost for five days on the NCR trail in Freeland, Sadie sacks out at home.

It takes a village — and some french fries — to find a lost dog.

That's what Freeland resident Peggy Sachs realized last month when her 3-year-old golden retriever, Sadie, was lost for five days on a section of the Northern Central Railroad Trail.

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The day that Sadie was lost, Oct. 3, started out like many others in the Sachs household.

Peggy Sachs, who teaches music and runs a program called Music for the Young Child at Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church in Towson, left for work about 2 p.m. Her husband, Louis, who is president of Anchor Health Properties, a company that develops health care facilities, was already at work in Wilmington, Del.

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Sadie was left in a 1.5 acre fenced yard that surrounds the Sachs' house. The yard's 3 1/2- to 4-foot three-board fence has wire mesh to the ground and is partially electrified where sheep fields are adjacent.

Peggy and her husband each arrived home after dark, about 7 p.m. That's when they discovered that Sadie was gone.

Peggy Sachs sprang into action posting signs, contacting the microchip company that could ID Sadie's microchip and posting a photo of Sadie on Facebook along with a request for the public's help in finding her.

Soon, the Facebook post had 300 "shares," Peggy said, and she started to hear from old friends and neighbors who lived nearby.

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Her phone would ring, Peggy said, and a voice would say, "Peggy, is that you, with the dog?"

Everyone wanted to help find Sadie who, as Peggy noted on her Facebook message, was shy and probably wouldn't come if a stranger called her name.

The search centered on a section of the NCR bike-and-hike trail off Freeland Road near its intersection with Railroad Avenue.

Peggy Sachs said that section of the trail is exactly 3.2 miles from her house on Freeland Road and she often drove there with Sadie to jog for exercise.

As news of the lost dog spread, Peggy's friend Kim Matterson searched along the trail carrying pieces of ham to tempt the canine.

Another friend, Daisy Gutberlet, put out food along the trail.

Another Sadie-watcher put out a leash in case that should be needed

Someone else loaned Peggy Sachs a bike so she could search while riding.

"Everybody was out looking for her," Peggy said.

There were numerous sightings of Sadie, most along the section of the trail to which Peggy had taken her.

The first sighting of Sadie, called in to Peggy by Freeland resident Renee O'Neill, was at 3 p.m. on Fridayafternoon, the day Sadie went missing and only an hour after Peggy had put Sadie in the yard and left for work.

It's clear that Sadie "got out immediately after I left and started to try to find me," Peggy Sachs wrote in an email.

The weekend passed and Peggy Sachs returned to work.

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, as Peggy was teaching a 5 to 6 p.m. ukulele class of 4- to 8-year-olds how to play the ukulele, her cell phone kept buzzing.

As soon as class ended, Peggy selected the most recent of the 13 voice mails and got the message she had been hoping for.

"We have her," the most recent of the 13 voice mails said.

"We" was Renee O'Neill and her twin 15-year-old daughters, Hazel and Maizie, freshmen at Hereford High School.

Renee O'Neill was driving the twins home from some after-school horseback riding that Tuesday in the family's Volkswagen station wagon when she saw a car ahead slowly shadowing Sadie, who was running on the side of Freeland Road.

O'Neill pulled over and stopped the station wagon, and the twins got out in pursuit of Sadie.

The dog first ran behind a nearby house and then headed for the woods off Freeland Road.

The twins gave chase until, at a point where woods were on their right and a field of soybeans was on their left, Sadie "turned around and looked at us," Hazel said.

With that, Hazel said, both twins "bent down" so as to appear non-threatening. Then she tossed one of the Arby's french fries she was carrying toward the now-interested Sadie, who was about 15 feet away.

"Then we called her and she came closer," Hazel recalled.

More french fries did the trick. The twins were able to approach Sadie and hold her by her collar.

By the end of the nearly one-mile walk back to the station wagon, the twins — who are used to caring for their family's dog, a large terrier-mixed breed — opted to carry the 55-pound golden retriever rather than walk her by her collar.

Did Sadie struggle when asked to get into the back of the station wagon?

"She was done," said Renee O'Neill.

So were the twins, but, as Hazel said, "If it was my dog, I would want someone to find her."

Back at home, Sadie — who appeared none the worse for wear except for ticks and briers she had picked up — sacked out while her owners hosted a celebratory gathering of friends, including members of the 2nd Generation Bluegrass Band of which Peggy Sachs is a member.

"There are so many people I want to thank, " Peggy said. "I got to know so many people."

And so many people got to know Sadie, who now "is well-known up there" on the NCR trail, Peggy said.

Sadie now wears a collar equipped with GPS, Peggy said, and she is "never in the yard when her owners aren't home."

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