CHESTER, Maine — Braylon the escaped Welsh terrier had for two weeks evaded every human hand that had tried to capture him, but sometimes, it takes a dog to catch a dog.
A black Labrador retriever mix named Jake and his owner, Tom Bishop, helped capture the wayward 8-year-old purebred on Sunday about 200 yards east of Interstate 95’s Exit 227. It ended a search that had attracted nearly 3,000 fans and participants to the “Bring Braylon Home!” Facebook page, which was created to aid in the dog’s rescue.
Braylon’s owner, Linda Arnold, said she received more than 50 telephone calls or instant messages from people who claimed to have seen her dog along the highway from Alton to Chester since his disappearance on Feb. 21 from her Mattamiscontis Township home.
“I don’t have a clue who this guy [Bishop] was. He and his dog just ran after the dog, and all of a sudden, he walked out of the woods with Braylon,” Arnold said.
But Braylon didn’t come quietly.
“He got ahold of one of my thumbs, and it’s all bruised,” Bishop said. “I had gloves on because I knew he would be a little skittish.”
The 54-year-old Medway man had never met Arnold before Sunday, but he said he felt for her loss.
“I am a dog lover, and I just couldn’t stand by,” Bishop said.
The capture of Braylon was a convergence of strangers. Whitney Cote called Arnold to report that she had just seen Braylon along River Road just as an unidentified man, likely another search participant, had seen the dog.
“She said, ‘Did you get any other calls on your dog? He is running on the access road right now,’” Arnold said. “I said, ‘What? He was just seen at [mile marker] 211 last night three times,’ and she said, ‘I am 90 percent sure it is your dog.’”
“I knew that if I were in his family’s position I would hope for all the help I could get,” said Cote, a Farmington resident.
At the time, Bishop was driving his Ford F-150 pickup truck toward the on-ramp when he saw the unidentified man.
“I said to the guy, ‘You didn’t see a little lost dog, did you?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, he just ran right down there,’” Bishop said.
Arnold, Cote, Bishop, the unidentified man, and Lincoln and Chester Animal Control Officer Lori Jandreau were all there to grab Braylon, but Bishop might have been the best equipped. He had a net, dog leash, hot dogs, dog biscuits and water.
“The lady that owned the dog had just pulled up and started calling the dog,” Bishop said. “I said, ‘Jake will find him.’”
Jake sprinted after the terrier and soon cornered him in nearby woods. Braylon growled at his rescuers, but weeks outdoors “made him more interested in the hot dogs” than anything else, Bishop said.
Braylon’s reunion with Arnold was emotional.
“They were all crying, the bunch of them,” Bishop said of the gathered women.
Braylon has lost a lot of weight but otherwise seems healthy, Arnold said. Arnold’s stepmother, Beth Enochs, said she felt awash in gratitude.
“We are so happy and thankful to the whole community. I can’t thank them all. There are too many,” she said. “I love how everybody was brought together by this little dog.”