BRUNSWICK, Maine — The dog named Popeye, whose escape from a Freeport home on July 3 sparked its own Facebook page, is home.
The miniature Australian shepherd was 3 pounds lighter and snoozing heavily as Rod Salguero and his wife, Ashley Perkins, drove home to Brooklyn, New York, after Salguero found the pup on School Street on Saturday morning, they said.
“He just started whimpering and whining and made a beeline right for me,” the 31-year-old Salguero said Saturday. “You could tell he had been looking for me the whole time. His pace before [he saw Salguero] was very methodical and slow and he was looking around and checking his environment.”
“I was half a mile away. We had seen him on the [nearby] railroad tracks about five minutes before,” said Perkins, who is 28. “I cried. It was a very long time coming.”
Maine Lost Dog Recovery volunteers and Brunswick Animal Control Officer Heidi Nelson helped end Popeye’s 22-day adventure. They set several traps, posters and cameras around Freeport and Brunswick. The “Find Popeye” Facebook page, meanwhile, drew 2,016 subscribers.
The newlyweds were grateful. They came to Maine every weekend since Popeye’s disappearance, which occurred about a week after they married in North Haven on June 27, and searched for him. The Facebook subscribers reported about 25 Popeye sightings, Perkins said, and offered support.
“Hoping he’ll hide out in the wooded buffer along the railroad tracks. Sharing with all sorts of Brunswick neighbors,” wrote Michele Stapleton on a July 18 posting. “Good luck!”
“I put food out close to that area of Spring Street and by the tracks,” wrote Star Cooper on the same posting.
“We saw him on Union Street yesterday,” wrote Jessica Brooks on the same day. “Me and my dog went on a long walk with treats hoping to see him.”
The volunteers might have captured Popeye but they had dog psychology working against them. Nelson related that missing dogs, particularly a jittery canine like Popeye, develop tunnel vision and flee strangers once cut off from familiarity. The couple brought their other dog, a Maltese who of course is named Olive, to counteract this, Perkins said.
“We were just trying to listen to what some of the experts were telling us,” Perkins said. “Every time they [volunteers] called his name he would run away. We wanted him to recognize our scent, hear our voices.”
A veterinarian who checked the dog on Saturday said that aside from having lost about a third of his body weight and being very tired, Popeye was in good shape.
Now that he’s back at home, the married couple can start to live, well, like a married couple.
“We can start celebrating, being a family,” Salguero said.
As for Popeye, “He will probably sleep for a week,” Perkins said.