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Missing dog Ruger breaks hearts, inspires hope



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Ruger is a 9 year old Australian Shepherd. He has been missing from the Cleaves home since Sept. 30. An extensive amount of work has been underway to find the beloved family dog. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
December 19, 2012
LITTLETON — Many in our region are rooting for Ruger, a dog that has been missing from the Cleaves home since September 30. Several people have seen the Australian Shepard since then, but he remains elusive.

Owner Krystal Cleaves has used Facebook to keep hundreds of interested people informed on the status of the search. By last Thursday, Cleaves said her Bring Ruger Home page on Facebook had nearly 100,000 hits. As of Monday afternoon, the site had 574 "likes" on the site, and dozens have submitted clues and encouraging comments as the search continues.

Cleaves knew there was trouble when Ruger didn't respond to her calls on Sept. 30. It was a wet day, and she noted, "He absolutely hates the rain." A neighbor informed her that deer were in the area at the time. Cleaves thinks Ruger may have chased them, then became confused about his location.

From what she has learned from experts, Ruger is trying to get home. "It's like he's searching for us," Cleaves said. She wishes to thank the staff at Granite State Dog Recovery for their insights.

Several people have contacted Cleaves about seeing Ruger. She said that there have been confirmed sightings between Franconia and Whitefield. Residents in Littleton have seen him on Mount Eustis and around Streeter Pond Road.

Ruger is beloved by the Cleaves children. Six-year-old Kenzi told Cleaves that Ruger's return home would be a sufficient Christmas present. "My three children are just devastated," Cleaves said.

On Friday the Facebook page included a new posting that Ruger was spotted between Whitefield and Jefferson. Facebook followers continued to post encouraging words and suggestions like contacting businesses in the vicinity of recent sightings.

This recent sighting of Ruger was not the first that reported he was using railroad beds or cleared power line easements as his paths. Cleaves suggested that he might be doing that to move quickly.

Cleaves has received calls from state police and some towns about Ruger sightings. For a time, "he was crossing I-93 several times a day," she said. In the early part of the search, Cleaves received about six calls a day with leads on Ruger's location.

"He has already gone into survival mode," Cleaves continued. This means he will not respond to his name, and will likely run if people call out to him. "He knows how to avoid any chaos," Cleaves said.

From information she has received from those who have seen Ruger, Cleaves said he runs a lot after dark. She said dogs outside will "stay warm at night by moving." Some morning lows have been in single digits recently.

Those tracking Ruger on Facebook were happy to hear that the Courier was going to do a story on the missing canine. "Pawsome news," one person wrote. "It surely takes a village to perform these miracles."

Cleaves was very thankful for all of the people who have contacted her about Ruger. The encouragement has been important in difficult times. "Some say he may be 'just a dog' but not me. He is a child to me," Cleaves wrote on Facebook.

Bring Ruger Home can be found at www.facebook.com/bringrugerhome.

On the Facebook page, Cleaves wrote that anyone who sees Ruger can call her day or night at 991-2065 or 444-5717.

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