Adog ejected from his owner's pickup during an accident Tuesday is safe at home, enjoying icewater and affection after a long ordeal that involved a massive search effort, several hours in a hot barn and a helping hand by local animal lovers.
Teddy Bear, an eight-pound cavanese-Maltese cross, went missing after his owner, William "Herb" Hughes, was involved in a collision with another vehicle on the way to the Country Clipper dog groomers in White City.
Hughes, 85, of Medford, was transported to the hospital for minor injuries, along with the driver of the other vehicle, Orauralia Robles of White City, while friends and family of the couple and employees of Country Clipper attempted to find Teddy Bear.
Frightened by the accident, the dog was seen running down East Gregory Road and disappearing near a large hay field shortly after the 9:30 a.m. accident.
Hughes' wife, Winnie Hughes, 84, said the couple "must have had 100 people looking for that little dog" but feared for the worst as the sun began to set on Tuesday.
Carol Faria, a groomer at Celebrity Pets in White City, received a phone call close to closing time from a nearby property owner.
"She called and said there was a little dog in their shed and she thought it was the dog from the accident, but he was really scared so she couldn't get near him," said Faria, noting that calls to animal control and Country Clipper were unsuccessful.
"She couldn't get a hold of anyone else and it wasn't the kind of barn you could close off. She was worried the coyotes would eat it."
Enter Jackelope Valley Ranch Animal Rescue owner Melinda Golis.
Said Faria, "I knew if anyone could get that dog out of there, it was Melinda. Scared or not, they just come to her."
Keeping her reputation firmly intact, Golis lured the pup by sitting in a distant corner and waiting for him to make the first move.
"He started sniffing my hands and that was the end of it because I probably smelled like other dogs," Golis said with a laugh.
"From what they had been describing to me, I thought there was an angry wolf in there or something but once I got him home, he seemed pretty happy to sit on the couch while we were making phone calls to find his owners."
Hughes said she cried when she got the phone call that Teddy Bear was safe and sound.
"(Tuesday) was the hardest day of my whole life to have my husband hurt, 'cause I didn't know how bad he was, and then to have our little dog missing," she said.
"By nighttime, I had almost given up hope. It had been such a hot day I didn't think he would make it. And I was worried about wild animals — coyotes and stuff. When she called, all I could do was cry. And they brought him right to us."
Golis said she was happy to help provide a happy ending.
Hughes noted that the ordeal had left an impression on the almost 5-year-old Teddy.
"I can't imagine what went through his mind, out in the heat all day," she said. "He's pretty spoiled and he likes things a certain way. We give him water in a glass with ice.
"You can tell he's really glad he made it home," Hughes said. "And we're really glad he did, too. Our kids are grown so he's our family now."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.