The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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When Lake Township resident Jon Hockenberry decided last month to scatter his beloved dog’s ashes in a pond behind his home at Bradner Road and SR. 163, he paused briefly and decided he wasn’t ready to part with his best pal just yet. The dog, named Woody Hayes, after the legendary Ohio State football coach, was his constant companion. 
 
“Woody went everywhere with me,” Hockenberry said of his Labrador retriever. “He went to soccer practice, baseball practice — everywhere.” 
 
True to its breed, Woody never got tired chasing a ball. 
 
“My kids would get tired of throwing the ball before he would stop running to get it. He was the best dog. He
pic DogAshes
This box containing Woody's ashes was stolen from a vehicle in Lake Twp. on March 24 or March 25.
was amazing,” said Hockenberry, who grew up in Northwood.
 
 The dog loved to ride in the passenger seat of his Chevy Silverado truck. When the 12-year-old dog was diagnosed with liver cancer, Hockenberry decided to eventually have his buddy euthanized on Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, so it wouldn’t suffer. The remains were cremated, and the ashes were placed inside a small pine box that was prepared by his veterinarian. Woody Hayes’ paw print,
immortalized in a lump of clay, sat loosely on top.
 
“I picked up the ashes the following Thursday,” recalled Hockenberry. Then he put the box in a place of reverence: The passenger seat, right by his side. The next day, he planned to scatter the ashes in the pond. 
 
“I had the box open, and I was talking to my daughter. I got kind of choked up and I couldn’t do it. So I closed the box up, put it back on the seat, went in the house, and I never locked the door.”
 
Break-in
Either Friday night or Saturday morning, someone entered his vehicle parked at his home and stole loose change in a tray under his stereo – and, to his horror – the box containing Woody’s ashes. The unattached clay paw print was left behind.
 
“I came out Saturday morning to go to the store when I noticed my work badge was lying on the floor of the truck,” said Hockenberry. “I saw the change was cleaned out from the tray. Then I looked over at the passenger seat and Woody’s box was gone. There was a lot of stuff left in the truck that I thought would have been taken – my binoculars, tools, and cash. But the only thing taken was maybe $3 in change, and the box.” 
 
The suspects, he surmised, were likely driving around, looking for valuables to steal from unlocked vehicles. “From everything I hear, there’s usually two people in a vehicle, one guy is dropped off. He checks door handles until he finds one that opens. They took the change, then saw the box. It was just sitting there and it was heavy. I imagine he just picked it up and thought, `There’s going to be something good in there,’ and took it.”
 
 The box is about 5 or 6 pounds, and the clasp is difficult to open, he said. “I understand why it wasn’t opened right there. If it were me, I’d be pretty interested to see what was in it. My only hope is that when it was finally opened, and they saw there were just ashes in the box, they would have thrown it wherever they were at. If it got chucked into a ditch, or off the side of the road somewhere, maybe someone will see it. If it got thrown into the garbage, it’s gone.”
 
Public’s help
Hockenberry filed a report with the Lake Township police. He also called the police departments in Genoa,
pic WoodyDog
Woody the dog.
Clay Township, and Northwood, as well as the sheriff and the highway patrol to see if anyone in the area may have turned in the box. 
 
“I was pretty upset,” he said. “I’ve been kicking myself because I always lock my truck doors. The one night I don’t do it, and `Bam.’”
 
He’s looked in nearby bushes and a ditch across the street from his house, he said. “I walked around five or six houses. The Lake Towship police drove all the way up and down the ditch. I also walked the ditch, and down 163. I’ve driven down every block,” he said.
 
Hockenberry is asking for the public’s help in recovering Woody’s box.
 
“Inside the box is a black bag, and inside that bag is a Ziploc bag,” that contains the ashes, he said. On the bottom of the wood box is a sticker that states: “Cremated remains of: Woody. Belonging to: Jon Hockenberry. Date of death: 03/17/17. Date of cremation: 03/20/17.”
 
 “It’s possible someone has found the box and doesn’t realize what they have,” said Hockenberry, who is offering a reward for the return of the box.
 
“The thought of not knowing where he’s at is – rough,” said Hockenberry, choking back tears. 
 Hockenberry can be reached at 419-285-6779.
 
 

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