TOLEDO — Oliver has been found! The Toledo community, along with others throughout Lincoln County, rallied around Mike and Tami Judy when their black labrador retriever went missing on Sunday morning, July 26.
“My husband was going to the store,” Tami explained, as they do every Sunday morning. “Oliver jumped out the window of the car.” Two years old, Oliver had never done anything like that before.
Mike was driving in downtown Toledo when Oliver saw a dog. “I don’t know how he even fit through the window,” Tami said. Oliver’s vet had just warned the Judys that Oliver was 20 pounds overweight. He weighs a lot less now, she noted.
Mike pulled over and got out of the car, Tami related, and the lady was standing there with her dog. Mike said, “Oliver.”
Oliver turned around and looked at him, Tami said, then turned and ran up behind D and R Meats. “He just bolted,” she said. “My husband stayed there. Then he went back every hour. We proceeded to spend the next 12 days spreading the word,” Tami told the News-Times.
The Judys put flyers everywhere. “Nobody had seen him. We had a couple sightings, but they weren’t Oliver.” They were beginning to give up hope, Tami said. “He’s never spent a night outside.”
Mike said, “I went back to where he jumped out every night. She was down there every day for five hours a day. All the neighbors were looking for him.” Afraid that someone had taken Oliver in and their kids had fallen in love with him, Mike thought maybe they would want money more than a dog. So the Judys offered a $1,500 reward.
“She wouldn’t eat. She wouldn’t do anything.” Tami said of Penelope, the Judys’ chocolate lab, Oliver’s littermate. “We took her every day with us, putting her scent out there.”
Everybody was looking for Oliver. “He was just lost,” Mike said, until he turned up last Saturday morning at Winston and Alyssa Hall’s property on Sturdevant Road in Toledo.
“We just noticed that our dogs were playing outside with another one,” Alyssa Hall told the News-Times. “Oliver walked right into our house and kind of kissed our baby,” she said. “We just gave him some treats and spoiled him.”
Hall said she hadn’t seen the flyers or the Facebook posts. “But the moment I put him on my Facebook, everyone knew it was Oliver. So we started asked him, ‘Are you Oliver?’ And he would notice, and look at us, like, “Yes, I’m Oliver!’”
As soon as he received word, Mike headed over to the Halls, “just two hills over” from where the Judys live on Happy Valley Road.
“My husband was there in 12 minutes,” Tami related. “Oliver heard the Tahoe pull up, and he went a-running. My husband jumped out of the Tahoe, and Oliver, he jumped right into the Tahoe.”
Mike was visibly emotional when asked about the $1,500 reward. “They did not want it. I had it in my wallet, and I offered to pay it. They just wanted me to get my dog back.”
Hall confirmed she and her husband declined the reward offered by the Judys. “Yeah, for us, we have two huskies who get out almost all the time. So we told him we understood. We know how it feels to lose your best friend.
“It was honestly the highlight of our month. We were so happy the whole day,” Hall related. “We had never seen something so awesome as the reuniting moment.”
Mike said, “My big boy is home.”
Oliver showed up at the Hall’s property wet, and with scrapes and marks from his 13 days on his own. “He struggled, Tami related. “He’s glad to be home.”
Oliver spent the first 10 hours home laying on a foam bed out on the back deck as well wishers stopped by to welcome him home, Mike told the News-Times.
“He’ll cry at night, so you know he’s having dreams. And he’s a little aggressive with his food now, which he’s never been,” Tami said, Oliver now snatching food from her hand and being territorial with Penelope.
The Judys expressed gratitude for the community. “Everybody posted flyers, everybody was looking, everybody was searching. He was on every (Facebook) page. Everybody posted him,” Tami said.
There were no confirmed sightings until the day he was found.
Oliver has his own Facebook page, created by Katie Pimentel, FindingOliver, now with a happy ending. Tami credited her daughters-in-law. Mackenzie Folkerts made the flyers that were posted around town. Caitlyn Kessinger, with her many Facebook friends, was connected to Alyssa Hall. Tami shouted out Teresa Barnes of the News-Times, as well as all the media outlets, social media pages and community members who shared the news and helped look for Oliver. “That’s what it took to bring him home,” she said.