The dog showed up at the home shared by Jake Shuchart and Matt Groft the night of Feb. 19.
At first, they weren’t sure it was a dog. It was dark, and the image on their front-door camera at their York Street home in Hanover was not clear enough to see what the critter was. They initially thought it was a cat.
Then, the dog appeared on their back-door camera, and they could tell it was a small, black dog.
The dog made regular appearances at their home, always at night, always walking from the front of their home to the back. Once they set out a bowl of food for the dog, they were able to get a clear picture of the animal, which appeared to be a terrier mix. It wasn’t wearing a collar.
They tried to catch the dog to no avail.
“He was so scared about everything,” Shuchart said. “We’d approach him, and he’d run away.”
They sent information about the dog to Find Toby, a Facebook page that seeks to reunite missing pets with their owners.
And they continued to try to catch the dog. They got a humane trap from Find Toby and baited it with dog food. The dog didn’t bite. They tried bacon, fried chicken, anything that may appeal to a dog’s palate. Nothing. They tried drizzling a stream of liquid smoke from the front of their house to the trap in the back yard. It didn’t work. They were able to trap a feral cat and a raccoon, Shuchart said. “We just let them go.”
The weeks turned into months.
'He was a good dog'
The dog came into Barry and Dagmar Stone’s life, in Hanover, three years ago. Dagmar volunteers at the Adams County SPCA and one day came home with the mixed terrier puppy, just 4 months old. They named him Sully. Barry said there was no real reason for the name. It just seemed to suit him.
Sully fell right in with their other dog, a Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix named Buddy.
“He was a good dog,” Barry said.
On July 28, 2018, the Stones went to the Dutch Fest in downtown Hanover, not far from their home, and took Sully along.
“We were walking up to the festival, and I don’t know what it was, a noise, and Sully got scared,” Barry said. “He wiggled out of his collar and took off running.”
They spent hours looking for Sully, walking the streets and alleys in downtown Hanover.
He was nowhere to be found.
That day, Dagmar contacted Find Toby. They made up posters and put them up all over town. They contacted the police to see whether anyone reported a stray dog matching Sully’s description. They called the SPCA and asked whether Sully had been turned in at the shelter.
For weeks, they searched.
They never stopped looking, but as the weeks turned into months, Barry said, “We had pretty well given up. We never stopped thinking about him, but we gave up.”
They thought they’d never see Sully again.
Sully is found
On May 16, this year, Shuchart and Groft finally trapped the dog. Surprisingly, Shuchart said, it wasn’t bacon or fried chicken that lured him in. It was just plain old dry dog food.
They carried the trap to their shed and opened it and the dog just walked out, calmly. “I guess he knew he had been caught,” Shuchart said. “He was the sweetest dog ever, so nice.”
The dog seemed to be well-nourished and healthy, save for a few ticks, leading Shuchart to believe that perhaps he belonged to someone nearby who let him run free.
They contacted Find Toby and a person from the organization, as a first step, scanned the dog to see whether he had an embedded microchip.
'We were absolutely shocked'
That day, Barry got a call from Find Toby.
“We found your dog,” the person told him.
Barry was shocked. “No, it can’t be,” he told the person. “I can’t believe it.”
He said, “We were absolutely shocked.”
A short time later, the Stones, who live just 10 minutes away, were at Shuchart and Groft’s home. Sully ran to them, excited to see them. “He was so happy,” Shuchart said. “When he saw them, he knew who they were, and he freaked out.”
Shuchart and Groft learned that the dog’s name was Sully. It was a weird coincidence. One of their dogs, a Shih Tzu-Pug mix, is named Hank, named in honor of one of Shuchart’s favorite actors, Tom Hanks. Hanks had played the hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger in the film about his dramatic landing of an airliner on the Hudson River in New York when both engines on his Airbus A320 were disabled by a bird strike shortly after taking off from LaGuardia.
When they returned home, Sully was reunited with Buddy in the Stones’ backyard.
“They immediately started running across the yard together,” Barry said. “He just took off playing with Buddy like nothing had happened.”
They had no idea where Sully had been for the past two years, whether he remained a stray or whether someone had taken him in. It really didn’t matter; he was home now.
Barry said, “If (Shuchart) hadn’t been an animal lover, we never would have gotten him back.”
He said, “We never stopped thinking about him. We were amazed and very happy to have him back. You never stop having those feelings for your dogs.”