If you have walked or driven around the Southwest Hills in the past few months, you have likely noticed signs asking you to look for Gary, a small black fluffy Pekingese. He belongs to Leslie Ann Butler, artist and author, and Ron Cox, IT manager. Here’s how after last Thanksgiving their holiday season turned into a nightmare.
The dog story began in 2017 when a few days after Christmas, Leslie Ann and Ron’s beloved dog Huey, nearly 17 years old, passed away. Leslie Ann was sure there would not be another dog in her life. But over time, Leslie Ann’s heart began to yearn for another little guy. After seeing a raggedy-looking pup with soulful eyes online who was up for adoption, without telling Ron, she filled out a form and called to ask them when they could meet him. The answer she got was “tomorrow!” Convincing Ron to look at him wasn’t difficult, especially because she was in tears when she asked! Upon meeting “Coal” as he was called then, they were presented with a scruffy little 15 lb, 8 year old dog with patchy bald spots, dandruff, long curled toenails, and very bad breath (he had to have 14 teeth removed). He was allergic to corn and chicken, and also had a serious eye disease called dry eye which had been untreated and can cause blindness, and he required special drops twice a day. But what a smile he had! They had never seen such a big smile on a dog!
They brought him home, had his nails trimmed, microchip inserted, collar and tags in place and a bath. Gary’s first toy was one he picked out himself at PetCo – a huge rubber chicken, bigger than him! The ideal dog, Gary was happy, smart, loving. Leslie Ann says, ¨He was just plain happy. Loved to ride in the car, go for walks, play fetch, get dressed up, go to parties, visit friends, meet people, and do tricks. On walks, he would often run up to doors and want to go into homes and stores. One of his favorite places was the beach house.”
Gary, however, was an escape artist, loving to take himself on walks. He went out twice, but fortunately was found by neighbors within minutes. It was crucial to check the fence often to make sure he was secure.
Two days before Thanksgiving, Leslie Ann and Ron had new landscapers spiff up the yard. Somehow they moved part of the fencing and left a small opening, just the right size for a small, adventurous dog. About 6 PM that evening, Gary found that spot the landscapers had created and disappeared into the night. They caught him on camera, shooting through the neighbor’s yard onto the street.
Ron and Leslie Ann walked all over the neighborhood for about two hours calling him. They feared the worst, that the ever-present coyotes had gotten him. Over the next few days they contacted the neighbors to be on the lookout, put up posters and handed out fliers, and notified everyone via the NextDoor and Facebook. Two different trackers with dogs said that Gary’s trail ended on SW 16th between Cardinell and Clifton. Both said that someone had picked him up, and there was no sign that Gary had been killed. Unfortunately, there were no working security cameras at that location. Sure that whoever picked him up would return him if they knew he had a loving family, Leslie Ann and Ron blanketed all of Portland and surrounding towns with posters, aided by neighbors, friends, animal communicators and people they had never met before but just wanted to help. All veterinary hospitals and dog care businesses within 25 miles were notified. Search groups combed the city, including homeless camps. Pet detectives were hired. A police report was filed. Several animal communicators gave Ron and Leslie Ann information out of kindness, not asking for money. They all said the same thing: that Gary had been taken by someone who was not going to bring him back.
Leslie Ann says, ¨We can imagine why someone might have picked him up. He loves everyone. Everywhere we took him, he would go up to people, look lovingly into their eyes, kiss their hands. Maybe someone thought Gary was not loved by the people who had him and was asking for a new owner.” This is devastating, she says, because not only was he taken away from his family, but he needs cyclosporine eye medication twice a day or he will go blind — and there is only one pharmacy in the country that compounds that medication without corn oil, which Gary is allergic to.
To help fill the void that Gary left in their hearts and home, the couple decided to adopt Lamont (formerly “Chowder”) from The Southwest Washington Humane Society. Lamont was in crisis – a very high energy, insecure dog, he was terrified of the shelter – foaming at the mouth and biting. They had him on Trazadone, a potent anti-anxiety medication. After Leslie Ann and Ron brought him home, they took him off the medication. Leslie Ann says “It’s been very difficult but he’s finally housebroken and a little less crazy! He can even do a couple of tricks now.” She says he is developing into a very loving and sweet dog.
Leslie Ann has some advice to help prevent losing a pet: ¨Make sure they are microchipped. Inspect your fence periodically for places your pet can escape. Take lots of photos of your pet in case you need to make posters. Make sure they are licensed and wearing ID tags with a phone number. Don’t leave dogs or cats outside unattended, especially at night.
Leslie Ann and Ron are immensely grateful for all the help they have received, and continue to receive, from the people in this neighborhood. Kind people have gone out of their way to help find Gary, including going from door to door with fliers, making calls, and keeping an eye out for him at all times. There have been a few sightings but they have been false alarms. If you do see a dog you think might be Gary, please take a photo.
This story could have a happy ending and you could be a hero: If you or anyone you know has any information about Gary, please contact Leslie Ann at 503-523-6122 or [email protected], or Ron Cox at 971-226-4798. You may also contact SWeekly on the ¨Contact Us¨ page.
Leslie Ann is an artist well known for her portraits of pets. Among others, she has done work for singer Michael Jackson, George and Barbara Bush, Rue McLanahan of The Golden Girls, and former Portland Mayor Vera Katz. You can see her portrait work as well as her abstracts at her website: www.leslieannbutler.com.