My dog ran away on Christmas day, we ended up going home heartbroken without him, but then a week later we received a message on Facebook…
My wife Andrea is a hairstylist and about a week before Christmas, one of her customers told her he was looking for a new home for his miniature pinscher dog named Bandit. Andrea knew I had been wanting a dog, so she suggested that we could adopt him. When she told me about him I was immediately interested and decided to adopt him. A few days later we met up with her client in the parking lot where she worked. When I picked him up, I immediately fell in love with him. He had soft black fur and was very lively and friendly.
He wasn’t a puppy but he had that energy and playfulness like a puppy. When we called him by his name he didn’t respond well and I felt like the name Bandit didn’t fit him plus it’s such a cliche dog name. I renamed him Gambit, after one of my favorite Marvel superheroes. The name also was very similar sounding to Bandit, I wanted to make it easy for him to adjust to his new name.
On Christmas morning Andrea and I took our first family portrait together as a married couple. With us was Gambit, our other dog Lucy, and my bearded dragon, Falcor. Andrea bought Gambit a cute red Christmas sweater she really liked. She put the sweater on him and it was so cute, he also seemed to like it.
Later in the day, we headed off to Terrell, Texas to spend the rest of Christmas day with my family. My family usually meets at my brother and sister-in-law’s house every Christmas. They have three very cute and sweet kids we all love spending time with.
When we adopted Gambit, his previous owner said he is not a loyal dog. That he is prone to run off and won’t come when you call his name. We hoped after some time he would eventually become loyal to us and that wouldn’t be a problem. In the meantime, we knew we had to always keep him on a leash and keep our eyes on him. Whenever he was off his leash he would start sniffing the ground and wander off till we chased him down.
Amidst the excitement of opening gifts and playing with toys, we lost track of him. We searched the house and backyard and couldn’t find him anywhere. We assumed he was accidentally let out of the front door by one of the kids. It looked like my dog ran away. We all walked up and down the street calling for him with no luck. We drove around the neighborhood looking for him. We couldn’t find him anywhere. It got dark very quickly and it was really cold. It became hard to see and walk around outside. After a few hours, Andrea and I decided to head back home to Dallas, sad and heartbroken.
When I got home I looked up every Terrell community page I could find on Facebook and posted about Gambit running away. I told everyone his name was Bandit with the hopes he would be more likely to respond to his old name. A neat lost dog website automatically created a lost dog poster after I uploaded an image and added some details. I shared that poster everywhere online that made sense. My wife also was sharing information about him in other Facebook Terrell groups she had joined. The next day we called all of the animal shelters in the area to let them know about Gambit.
My brother and sister-in-law kept an eye out for him over the next few days. Because of work, I wasn’t able to go back to Terrell while there was still light out. Andrea and I were really concerned and sad for him. We hoped and prayed somehow someone would find him and contact us.
About 4 days later, a woman named Cassie in Terrell messaged me on Facebook that she had seen my poster for Gambit in a Facebook group. She said she saw a miniature pinscher running around her house with a red Christmas sweater on. Her address was located only a few miles away from where I lost Gambit. A little later she told me she saw him again and was able to take a photo of him running by. She sent me the photo and my heart exploded with happiness that he was okay! Andrea and I thought it was so cute that he still had his Christmas sweater on.
She told us that he would periodically run around the area. She said when she and her boyfriend Jon called him he would not go to them. I figured he was really scared and trying to find food and a warm place to feel safe. I was really surprised that he had been living outside for the past several days. Temperatures were in the 30’s and 40’s all week.
The next day I left work early and went back to Terrell to track him down. I brought a lot of treats with me because I knew he loved eating and could not resist them. I also bundled up so I could stand being the cold weather for an extended period of time.
When I arrived in Terrell, I first met up with Cassie and Jon. They very kindly invited me inside for a cup of hot cocoa as we talked about Gambit. Jon walked me around his house pointing out where he saw Gambit running around. While I was there with Jon I saw him run by! He dashed down the street right in front of us into a nearby field. I called and called him but he never came back. Out into the field, I went with hopes of catching him.
I was walking along a fence line when I saw him again. When I called his name he darted off again through a broken fence back into the neighborhood. I climbed the fence and ran after him. Once I got out into the street I lost sight of him. I had no idea where he went. I walked up and down almost every street. A guy that was in front of his house greeted me, I asked him about Gambit, he said he had seen him running around and in his backyard a couple of days ago but not at all that day.
As I walked around I spoke to every person I saw. I felt like an investigator in the movies. I was getting clues from people as to where he had been. They all remembered him by that red Christmas sweater. I approached a guy working in his garage and told him my dog ran away and I was looking for him. The guy said he hadn’t seen a dog in a Christmas sweater running around, I thanked him and continued on.
Plan Of Attack
The wind started blowing a bit harder as it began to get dark. The freezing weather was making me miserable but I was determined to go home with Gambit. I was walking down a sidewalk when suddenly the man I had just spoken to in the garage pulled up next to me in his truck and said that he just saw Gambit running around down the street. He offered to go ahead of me and drive slowly towards me to get him to run in my direction.
When I got further down the road I saw him sitting in a front yard. That guy honked his horn and Gambit started running in my direction. I threw a bunch of dog treats on the ground hoping he would stop and eat them and I could grab him. When he approached the treats he stopped and smelled them. Right, when I called his name he darted off again in between a couple of houses.
I thanked the man in the truck and went in the direction he saw my dog ran away in. I found myself running through yards, little alleys, and the woods. Occasionally, I would spot him and try to creep up on him quietly but without fail he would hear me every time and take off. It got dark and freezing. It got so dark I couldn’t see well nor could I stand the freezing weather any longer. I walked to my truck and drove back home to Dallas feeling defeated and sad.
Twists and Turns
The following day Cassie messaged me on Facebook and told me a lady she had gone to high school with that lives a few blocks from her had just posted about her lost miniature pinscher in a red Christmas sweater. It looked like he had been staying with this woman and that is how he was able to endure the cold weather. She said in her post that his name is Nike and that he doesn’t respond to that name. I thought of course not, she just gave it to him.
I was surprised to find out that this lady had stolen Gambit and was now claiming my dog ran away from her. All she had to do was check-in with a vet or animal shelter and ask if anyone reported him missing. It was also odd that she left his sweater on. A bunch of people had responded to her post, some offering condolences and hope that he is found and a few others mentioned that they had seen him running around. I was a little angry and didn’t quite know how to respond. I was going to comment on her post but I decided not to and talked it all over with my wife.
Change Of Heart
After processing it for a little while I went back on her Facebook profile and was going to friend request her and send her a message telling her about me losing Gambit and hopefully convince her help to me get him back to us. Maybe she didn’t know or didn’t think to call anyone, I might as well give her the benefit of the doubt. Right before I was about to friend request her I scrolled down her Facebook profile some more to see if she posted when she first found him. As I scrolled down I saw several photos of her and her kids with him, it was so strange how they all acted as he had been theirs for a long time. Then I looked at the dates of the photos. They were dated before we even adopted Gambit.
I was in complete shock with goosebumps all over my skin when it dawned on me. That was not Gambit, I had been chasing Nike that whole time. It was like a moment right out of the Twilight Zone. I had lost a miniature pinscher with a red Christmas sweater on in the same area and at the same time as someone else who lost their miniature pinscher with a red Christmas sweater on. I went back to the photos and noticed the subtle differences in the sweater patterns. Gambit’s had white patterns on the top and bottom were Nike’s did not.
We were in such shock, Cassie and Jon were as well. No one could believe that coincidence. Andrea and I were also still sad about not finding Gambit. We didn’t know what to do next. Do we just give up? It had been two weeks. Winter was particularly harsh this year, I figured he either sadly didn’t survive or was taken by someone else that’s going to keep him forever. It was also embarrassing telling everyone that we had just adopted a dog and less than a week later my dog ran away and we never found him again.
Two weeks after we lost him someone left a voicemail on Andrea’s phone stating they have Gambit. It was an older couple at an apartment about a mile from where we lost him. They found him and took him in the night my dog ran away on Christmas day. Apparently, someone in their family saw one of Andrea’s posts in a Terrell Facebook group and told the couple that we were looking for him. They thankfully called Andrea and let her go out there to pick him up. Poor Gambit smelled like an ashtray but he still had his Christmas sweater on. We were so happy to have him back home and he was definitely happy too! This was definitely one of the craziest stories I’ve experienced in my life.