Kinderhook dog is back with her family after nine days

February 12, 2018 07:28 PM

KINDERHOOK -- Lilly is doing a lot of sleeping.  She wandered off nine days ago, which the partially blind, 12-year-old black lab mix had never done before.

Her family searched high and low and put up flyers and posted on Facebook.

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"Yesterday I went to the Hannaford and somebody said to me, 'Have you found Lilly?'  I said, 'No,' and I get teared up every time because it's just so emotional," said Debbie Johnson, Lilly's owner.  "And she said, 'You do know the entire town is pulling for you right now?'"

Then Monday morning, Jon Varese and his dog Wiley were out for a walk.  For the first time, and to avoid the ice, they went down Railroad Avenue-- a route they'd never taken before.

"When we got to about here, he starts yanking me this way, way over here," said Varese.

He saw a heap of black fur near the dumpster.  He thought it might be a dead animal.  

"And then it hit me, all of a sudden, it just hit me: that is Lilly.  That's the missing dog!  This whole town has been looking for this dog for 10 days," he said.

Jon and Wiley ran to have someone notify Debbie. She rushed over.

"She was just laying right here curled up in a ball, and I didn't know if she was alive or not, and I was crying and said her name," said Johnson.  "She just looked right up at me and she didn't move.  So emotional!"

Jon, who didn't know Debbie well before this, came back to help.

"Debbie was here already huddled over the dog crying," he said.  "I started crying.  Because when you 're a dog owner you see someone else's dog like that, it might as well be your dog."

Debbie says she's forever grateful to Jon and Wiley.

An exhausted Lilly is catching up on sleep after her adventure, no doubt with quite a tale to tell.  

She was checked out by a vet and she's a little dehydrated, but otherwise okay.

Jon and Debbie say this is the first time they've been thankful for the ice-- that ice that led Jon and Wiley to change course.


Kumi Tucker

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