Lost and found

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 14, 2008

What a difference a week makes. And if you don’t believe that ask Maddie Stewart.

Well, maybe you can’t ask Maddie herself. But you can ask her family who spent a week wondering where their beloved pet was.

During the fierce storms almost two weeks ago, winds at one point barely blew open up the gate of the fenced-in yard at the house where Maddie lives — just enough for her to get out.

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Ever a curious girl, she decided to take a stroll that ended up with her going from one end of Ironton to the other. She slipped out before her owner, Kurt Stewart, discovered the dog he has loved for 14 years was gone.

Stewart, who is a cook supervisor at the U.S. Penitentiary, Big Sandy, at Inez, Ky., got Maddie when she was a puppy at the animal shelter in Circleville, when he worked there as a sheriff’s deputy.

“I used to stop by the dog shelter. I love dogs. I would play with the dogs,” he said. “I saw her in a litter and brought her home.”

The strawberry blonde mixed breed was quickly christened Maddie after the Cybill Shepherd character in one of Stewart’s favorite shows, “Moonlighting.”

So when Maddie went missing, Stewart, not to mention his wife, Brandy, and their 4-year-old son, Braden, were frantic.

“I was devastated. I figured I would never find her again,” Stewart said.

He searched the streets of Ironton as best he could, even going to the animal shelter to see if she were there. He thought the worst had happened — that Maddie had been hit by a car.

“I hoped she wasn’t suffering. I figured she was gone,” Stewart said.

However, Maddie wasn’t gone. She was at the home of a Good Samaritan who was trying every way she could think of to get the dog back home.

Johna Shotsky-Charles was heading home from work on the night after Maddie got loose, when she saw the pet in the parking lot of a business on South Second Street, obviously lost and confused.

However, before she could approach her, the dog started toward the Ironton-Russell Bridge. Shotsky-Charles, who manages the cosmetic lines at a number of CVS Pharmacy Stores, got into her car and headed for the bridge herself.

She passed the dog on the bridge, stopped her car, put on her emergency blinkers and walked back to the animal. The driver of another car pulled up behind her to ask if she could help.

“I told her this dog belongs to somebody. I want to get her and take her home and find out who she belongs to,” the woman said.

All Shotsky-Charles had to go on was Maddie’s collar with her name engraved on a metal plate and an old rabies tag. Through the tag she tracked down the vet, whose practice was in Georgetown, Ky. He gave her the last phone number he had for Maddie’s owners. But when she called, it was disconnected.

Next Shotsky-Charles went to the Internet getting phone numbers of all the Kurt Stewarts she could find in Ohio and Kentucky and calling them. Again, no luck.

Then she placed classified ads in The Ironton Tribune not just describing the dog but listing the names of Maddie and her owners. Tuesday night a relative of Stewart’s wife saw the ad and called her niece.

So when Stewart came home from work that night, his son met him in the garage with the good news.

“He was crying. He was happy when we got her back,” Stewart said.

Around 9:40 Maddie’s rescuer drove up to the Stewarts’ home with her prized cargo.

“Maddie got out of the lady’s car and came right up to us,” Stewart said. “She is a wonderful lady. I am glad we have people like that. What goes around comes around. With nice people nice things will happen to them.”