TROY — It took close to a year and one professional tracker to catch him, but a Springboro dog was finally returned his family earlier this month after being found on a farm in Troy.
After months of worrying, sleepless nights, and sightings that never led to capture, Mary Odeh was overjoyed to be reunited with her beloved dog, Tierney, a 6-year-old Mastiff.
Odeh spent nine months looking for Tierney, using social media to spread the word and get tips from people who had spotted him. The knowledge that he was still out there kept her going.
“I just really missed my dog,” she said.
The search came to an end on Jan. 17, when Tierney was finally captured by dog tracker Jordina Thorp of Lost Dog Tracking and Capture, who reunited missing K-9 Karson with the Wilmington Police Department last year.
“Tierney was a bit of a special case,” Thorp said, explaining that he had traveled quite a distance and had evaded capture several times.
Tierney roamed for months — from Springboro to Springfield to Troy and likely many other places in between — becoming more self-sufficient as time passed. Instead of looking to strange people for help, roaming dogs become expert survivalists, Thorp said.
Until December, there were no sightings of Tierney for several months. Odeh got close to catching him in July, but he’d become so used to being alone that he ran away again.
When the weather turned colder, Odeh got in touch with Thorp.
Thorp got involved in the case about a week before Christmas. Each case Thorp works on is different, and she builds an individualized plan to catch each dog based on what she knows about his personality and how he went missing.
For months, the skittish Mastiff had been scared further and further away from home by well-meaning groups of people looking for him. When Thorp got involved, she decided to keep the details of her plans to herself and a few helpers.
“Finally I said, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’re doing it my way,’” Thorp said. It was essential that the locations of Tierney’s sightings remain under wraps, she explained.
Unseen since the summer, Tierney arrived at Sunnybrook Training Center in Troy several weeks before his capture, said Noelle Mumpower-Davis, owner of the horse boarding and training facility.
She and her husband spotted a large dog out in their yard one morning, but didn’t think much of it because they’re no strangers to nearby animals visiting their farm.
“But around noon that day, someone came to the house with a poster asking if we’d seen this dog,” Mumpower-Davis said. “Apparently we were the first people to see him since August.”
When Tierney came back later the same day, Mumpower-Davis and her husband called the number on the poster and started working with Thorp to catch him.
Once he was spotted, it took weeks to actually capture Tierney. Thorp set up feeding stations and used cameras to keep an eye on spots Tierney might visit.
The farm owners put food out for weeks, even going so far as to cook steaks for him, to keep him coming back to their property. It was clear that Tierney enjoyed the free food supply, Thorp said, but, like most lost dogs, Tierney wasn’t willing to risk his security for food.
For fear of scaring Tierney away, the farm kept horses, people, and other animals out of certain areas until he was caught.
“It was quite a production,” Mumpower-Davis said. “But we all got really invested in him. Our boarders would ask about him and bring him treats.”
Keeping an eye on the area with cameras, Thorp learned that Tierney could be counted on to stop for lunch every day around the same time.
On that Sunday, Thorp was joined by K-9 Karson’s handler Officer Jerry Popp, working together for the first time since Karson was found.
They waited until Tierney — right on time for lunch — was distracted by a rotisserie chicken and made their move.
Tierney lost about 20 pounds and gained a large growth on his right front leg, but other than smelling “absolutely horrific,” he was in good condition, Thorp said.
When Odeh got the call that Tierney was safely caught, she was floored.
“It was like, what do I do?” Odeh said.
Tierney has been home now for two weeks and it is as if he never left, Odeh said.
“He does follow me around the house more now, which is sweet,” she said.
She thanked everyone involved in bringing Tierney home, including Thorp, Popp, the owners of Sunnybrook Training Center, and the many people on social media who followed the story and posted about sightings.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (937) 552-2205.