SUBMITTED BY CHERYL MURPHY –
In December of last year, while traveling through Hot Springs from Mena, the Lawrence family stopped to fuel at a local service station. As the car door was opened, the family’s little Chihuahua bolted out the door. The family chased their dog frantically trying to coax her back. A good neighbor in the area, Miranda, and her 10-year old son, Plyler Oseguera, joined in the search, which ended in vain. In all the confusion, the dog had run off, was not to be found, and the very saddened and worried family was pressed to get back on the road to their destination.
Several weeks later, Hot Springs resident Bill Steinkamp, noticed a flyer posted on the go-cart racetrack fence, that someone had found a Chihuahua and was seeking the owner. Bill, a neighbor of Miranda’s, had heard the chase story from her. Miranda told Bill the family stated they were from Mena, but ironically she had just thrown away the family’s contact information the day before. Bill had met Jerry and Imelda Barker a few months earlier, and knowing they were from Mena, having volunteered with an animal shelter there, contacted them about the dog. Imelda suggested Bill contact Cheryl Murphy, volunteer secretary for Humane Society of the Ouachitas located in Mena. Bill phoned Cheryl and told her the story. Cheryl said she would check out local sources, including the ‘lost and found’ listing at the animal shelter. She also offered to post on the social media pages for the Mena area in hopes of finding the owner. Bill gave Cheryl the phone number off the flyer, and Cheryl called Donna Gartin of Hot Springs who had found the dog. Although it had been a month since Donna had found her, Donna told Cheryl she did not know what else to do to find the dog’s owner except post around Hot Springs. Donna said she had no idea that the owner could live as far away as Mena. Since it had been so long without any leads in finding the owner, Donna was considering giving the dog to the local pound, since she couldn’t keep her much longer. But she hated to give her up, because she could tell the dog had to be someone’s beloved pet. Donna’s hope renewed with Cheryl contacting her.
That evening, Cheryl posted a notice on the online Mena Forum, as well as on several Mena and Polk County Facebook pages. Early the next morning, Cheryl received a call from Melinda Lawrence, whose son had seen the posting online, and who excitedly said, “I believe you found my dog!” Melinda gave a completely accurate description of her lost dog and said her name was Chica. Cheryl gave Donna’s phone number to Melinda. Melinda phoned Cheryl back a few minutes later stating she was on her way to Donna’s home in Hot Springs to pick up her beloved Chica, whom she thought she would never see again. Cheryl called Bill to let him know the great news. Lessons learned: Never give up. There are caring people in the world who will take the time to offer their help if you let them know your needs. If you have information to share, share it with other sources, because you never know how the information you have may help solve a mystery. Thanks to the networking and teamwork of those caring souls, and the outreach of social media, there was a “dog-gone” happy reunion for Chica and Melinda.