After escaping from her Mattituck home in November, 5-year-old Charlie heard her name for the first time in six months on Friday.
With a wagging tail and lots of kisses, the settler/pointer mix was undeniably happy to be finally recognized by someone, anyone — in this case, a staffer at the Southold Animal Shelter.
“When I called her Charlie for the first time, she was excited,” said Gabby Glantzman, the shelter’s manager.
Prior to her capture, the runaway pup was already the talk of the animal shelter, which is run by North Fork Animal Welfare League. For weeks, the staff had received phone calls about a black-and-white dog spotted running loose from Mattituck to Jamesport.
To rescue the wayward and reportedly skittish pooch, North Fork Animal Welfare League’s Riverhead staff set up a dog trap near Herricks Lane in Jamesport. After a few weeks, she was finally captured on Friday.
Confused and scared, Charlie’s identity was unknown when she was first picked up. She was also suffering from two tick-related diseases and an injured leg. But her attitude soon changed when Ms. Glantzman recalled an old “lost dog” poster hung at the shelter over the winter.
“As soon as I saw her I said, ‘That is the dog from the lost poster,’” she said. “I said, ‘Charlie?’ And she looked up at me so happy, like ‘You know me!’”
Executive director Gillian Wood Pultz then went through Lost and Found Pets of Long Island‘s Facebook page, a site dedicated to helping reunite animals with their owners. After searching many months of posts, she was able to find the one on Charlie.
Ms. Glantzman then contacted the dog’s owners on Facebook.
Their response was just as priceless as Charlie’s.
“It was wonderful to see their reaction,” Ms. Glantzman said. “It was just amazing.”
The next morning, the owners — including an 8-months pregnant Kayla Masem, her husband Greg Masem and their 18-month-old son, Wyatt, reunited with Charlie at the shelter.
The joyous moment was caught on video with tears, hugs and laughs all around.
“I was shocked,” Ms. Masem said. “It was a really bad winter when she was running around. We’re from Arizona, so she’s never seen the winter. We told her she better not complain about it next year.”
The Masem family moved from the desert to Mattituck just six months before Charlie’s escape. Mr. Masem had adopted the dog in Phoenix after her former owners threatened to leave her on the streets — not an uncommon occurrence in that city, he said.
Charlie had quite the adventure during her six months roaming the North Fork. Although she refused to come close to people while on the loose, she became well-known in the areas she traversed, from Mattituck to Jamesport — mostly between Route 25 and Route 48. She even seemed to make a few friends.
The shelter’s staff believes Charlie was fed by other people. Her owners said she hadn’t lost a pound since the day she escaped from her leash outside their North Riley Avenue home.
Oddly, the Masems themselves spotted Charlie just two weeks before her capture when she ran in front of their car near Harbes Farm on Sound Avenue.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Masem said. “She was running down the farm field before we could get to her.”
Now that Charlie is back home, her energy level is just as high as it was before she escaped — and she’s more affectionate than ever, spending a lot of time cuddling with Wyatt.
“Wyatt just wants to be with her all the time,” Mr. Masem said. “We are very excited she’s home.”