Sometimes it takes a village to save a dog.
It was Friday 11-11-11 when Haley, an 11-year old vision-impaired black Labrador mix owned by the Helmke family, wandered out of her gated back yard.
As she strolled along a bike path leading out of Elmore toward SR 105, two teenagers noticed Haley heading toward the roadway and decided to follow her.
A local woman who was just coming home from work also decided to follow along in her car to slow down traffic, including a semi-truck and a number of cars.
Haley’s stroll took her west on SR 105 nearly a quarter mile to the Ault home, then onto the Assad property, where she was greeted by Chris Assad, the teenagers, the car driver and local police.
Upon getting a call about the wandering dog from Elaine Ault, neighbor Sharon Anderson ran out to see if she could help.
“In all excitement, the dog was becoming frightened,” Anderson said. “She was baring her teeth, but her tail was tucked between her legs.
“She was reluctant to be touched but I was able to lasso her with my dog’s leash,” she said.
Anderson coaxed Haley away from all the commotion, which now included Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputy Zach Bowlings.
“I convinced Haley to lead me to her home and we proceeded toward Elmore, along busy Route 105, accompanied by Deputy Bowlings in his vehicle,” Anderson said.
Along the way, the dog stumbled onto a drainage grate, but was able to get back up and continue toward home. Near the bike trail, she was given water and offered treats. “That enabled us to see that she indeed was licensed and tagged with her family’s name, address and phone number,” Anderson said.
At this point, Sharon’s husband, Bill, a former acting humane agent for Ottawa County, arrived to transport Haley home.
“We easily loaded her into our van and took her home to her owners, the Helmkes,” Anderson said. “Deputy Bowlings offered to follow us into Elmore and assist with the rescue.”
Her adventure over, Haley was returned to the safety of her fenced yard.
“Haley is a great dog – she has never wandered like that before,” said Cheryl Helmke. “She may come out of the yard while we are outside doing yardwork or playing with the girls, but she always stays in her yard and goes back in when you ask her to.
“My husband Jeff and I and our girls, Paige and Isabelle, are very grateful to everything that Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, as well as everyone else involved, did that day,” Helmke said. “Haley is an important part of our family and we are so glad that she was brought home safely.”
“It was really neat to see how everyone pitched in to keep Haley safe and help get her home,” Anderson said. “This also emphasizes the importance of a dog license and tags, and humane consideration for family pets.”
A group of Elmore residents came to the rescue when Haley, an 11-year-old vision-impaired black Lab mix, went wandering on 11-11-11.