December 3 was warmer than expected for this time of year so Dan White of Mattapoisett decided to take advantage of the balmy temperatures and brought his four Scottish Terriers to Washburn Park in Marion for a walk.
They had spent many an afternoon previous strolling the paths around the park and White decided to let the four dogs off their leashes. They usually stick close to him.
“It’s always there in the back of your mind. I knew something could happen if I let them run free,” White said.
As he and the dogs moved down a path, two of them became distracted and ran.
“Bella and Angus took off. I went to go grab them. Mosley stayed with me.”
When White finally caught up to the other two dogs, the oldest of the quartet, Hasty, was nowhere to be found.
He secured his other three dogs to their leashes and began searching the grounds for the missing pup.
“I went all around there, every path I could remember. I was scared and I was reluctant to call my wife. But when I did, she came down and brought me a flashlight,” he said.
White was joined by his daughter, Ashley, and her husband, John. The group continued the search until about 8:30 pm but did not find Hasty.
At home, White began to come to terms with the reality before him.
“I was thinking I had lost my dog. ‘I can’t believe I don’t have her. She’s gone,’” he said. “That was when it really hit me that I may have lost her.”
Hasty, the smallest of the four dogs, also suffered from a condition known as “Scottie Cramp” which causes spasms in the legs, making running difficult.
“She’s the most defenseless of all my dogs,” White said.
The next morning, he went back before sunrise to continue searching for his lost dog. After two hours of looking, White decided to knock on doors around the area in an effort to spread the word about Hasty.
“That’s when I went to the horse farm up there next to Washburn Park,” he said. “I didn’t think she was alive. I was just going to let them know as a formality.
White was met by Laura DeCosta, one of the custodians of the horses at the stables. “You mean you didn’t get her back yet?” she asked. “She was here yesterday. One of our riders brought her in. Your dog is safe.”
White was in disbelief and began to well up with tears.
“I didn’t buy it at first because I didn’t see her. Can I believe this?” he said.
While White and his family were searching for the dog around the park, Hasty had found her way over to one of the paths used by trail riders from the local stable.
“I was riding my horse in the woods and she was sitting by the side of the path. Nobody was with her,” said Nicole Snell, the 17-year old resident of Carver, Mass. “I rode on for a little bit but I came back to her and no one had come around. She was alone, so I took her home.”
When Snell dismounted from her horse, Hasty went right to her. She was shaking. Snell picked her up and walked the horse back to the stable.
“I would have felt bad if I just left her there,” said Snell, who has dogs of her own at home.
Once Snell returned home with the missing Scottie, Hasty got comfortable. According to White, she slept with Snell’s older brother.
“I couldn’t believe it,” White said. “Her mother even recognized that Hasty needed a different diet and fed her special food.”
Later that day, White met Snell, who presented a very happy dog to him. With tears in his eyes, he thanked her for taking Hasty home and making the effort to help find her owners.
“On the way home, she sat in my lap in the car the whole way,” said White. “I’ve come to realize that it’s the unknown that really scares you. I’m just happy to have Hasty back.”
By Eric Tripoli