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WAPAKONETA — Lost in the dark, his owner thousands of miles away, one worthy dog found his way home thanks to a caring community and social media.
Gently bumping his nose against the people closest to him, Diezel, the 11-year-old blind husky, makes his way around by his sense of smell and the helpful guidance of those who care for him.
After accidentally leaving the gate open in the back yard, Diezel was lost to his family.
His owner, Shaine McDaniel, 26, has been a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force for five years and seven months, and was most recently deployed to southeast Asia. Shaine has not been able to come home since 2011.
He was not aware that Diezel was missing, but he noticed a friend on Facebook sharing a photograph of an old, blind dog that was found in wandering in Cridersville.
“I said, ‘I think that’s my dog,’ so I called the dog warden at 3 in the morning,” Shaine said, thankful Dog Warden Russ Bailey took his call.
“I couldn’t believe it — I wasn’t even sure it was him because I didn’t know he was lost.”
Shaine’s father was taking care of Diezel while Shaine was overseas, and some of the children in the house left the gate open. Without his sight, Diezel was helpless in finding his way home.
“He’s so blind, I’m sure he was just sniffing around and scared out of his mind,” Shaine said.
Shaine said he was grateful to the people who called the dog warden, as he was unsure what would have happened to his dog had they not reported Diezel.
Tag Enforcement Officer Chris Miller was on duty when he got the call to pick up Diezel.
“When we first picked him up, we didn’t know what we were going to do with him,” Miller said.
Bailey said they always try to find homes for the dogs they find, but it is difficult to adopt an older dog, especially with Diezel’s needs.
“We were worried because he was such a nice dog,” Bailey said.
Because of the construction of Auglaize County’s new dog shelter, all of the dogs captured by the dog warden are being cared for at the Allen County dog shelter. Shaine said he was grateful to the Animal Resource Foundation (ARF) for taking over the care of the dog. He said he was thankful to ARF President Jim Welker for taking in Diezel.
Shaine said Welker helped Diezel when he was in his care and updated all of the dog’s shots and medical needs.
“I’m glad he had it in his heart to save him,” Shaine said.
Welker said Diezel was a good dog while he was in care, and he knew there was a home missing him.
“He totally adapted to the situation,” Welker said about Diezel finding his way around despite his blindness.
Welker said ARF has worked with Bailey on multiple occasions to find foster homes for lost pets while they try to find the owners.
Bailey said Facebook has been a big help with getting the word out about lost pets.
“For every person who hits that share button, that many more people will see it,” Bailey said.
Bailey said he and his officers pick up approximately 400 stray dogs every year and has had many success stories like Diezel. Bailey requested that anyone who finds a dog to report it as soon as possible to ensure the pet finds its way home. Dogs who never find their way home will be adopted to a new family.
“As long as its a nice, adoptable dog, we will hold onto it as long as we have space,” Bailey said. “We don’t just put them down.”