Chihuahua in Stolen Truck Returned to Owner

October 16, 2011

Chihuahua NewsRURAL HALL, N.C. (WGHP)— Vanessa Calvery, a part-time personal chef since being laid off in January, was driving home from delivering meals on Tuesday evening when she saw a Chihuahua standing in the middle of a road near her house. It was pouring rain and, though stray dogs sometimes roam the streets near her neighborhood, Calvery has two Chihuahuas, and something about this dog made her stop the car.She got out in the downpour, bundled the dog into her car and brought him home.
The little dog wore no collar, but he looked loved, Calvery said.

"I could tell somebody owned him," Calvery said. "His whole demeanor -- you could tell he was somebody's pet."

Calvery brought the dog into her home. She cooked up some chicken and split the meat among the dog and her two Chihuahuas, Duke and Pisant. She made the dog a bed in her TV room with an old blanket.

Calvery hasn't had full-time work since the company she worked for laid her off Jan. 1. Her house is for sale; she hopes to move to Kentucky to be close to her twin sister. When she found the dog in the rain, she said, something moved her to take him in. It had been a hard year for her, and she knew that missing a dog would mean a hard time for someone else.

"I really needed a sign that good things are still out there," she said.

So as the rain fell Tuesday, Calvery settled down for the night and resolved to find the dog's owner.

Meanwhile, John Jenkins, a 67-year-old man who lives in Walkertown, was lying awake in bed. He hadn't slept in two nights, not since his truck was stolen from the parking lot of Walmart on Hanes Mill Road with his dog, Boo'kie, inside. Boo'kie, a 7-year-old Chihuahua, needed medication for a skin condition that caused him to bite and scratch his body, and Jenkins was worried about his pet.

Jenkins, too, needed medicine. He had stopped at Walmart on Monday morning to pick up a prescription. When he came back to the parking lot, his truck -- and Boo'kie -- were gone.

Jenkins was diagnosed with throat and esophageal cancer in May 2009; in June 2009, his wife passed away. Boo'kie had been his companion through both crises, and Jenkins didn't care if he got the truck back -- he just wanted Boo'kie home. Jenkins, his friends and his family had searched all of Monday and Tuesday, but when he went to bed Tuesday night, Boo'kie was still missing.

On Wednesday morning, Calvery called a few veterinarians' offices and a few friends. She called a friend who worked at the post office, "just trying to spread the word that this dog had been found," she said.

One of the dog's paws seemed swollen, and she was worried the dog was injured. She took the dog to Animal Care Clinic in Rural Hall, where she takes her own dogs.

One of the veterinarians at the clinic, Preston Roberts, recognized the dog. The Winston-Salem Journal on Wednesday had a front-page story about Jenkins' search for Boo'kie. The story said Boo'kie had one paw larger than the other, a result of frostbite when he was a puppy. The number to reach Jenkins was published with the story.

Earlier Wednesday, a friend of Jenkins' had seen the stolen truck parked behind an apartment complex in Rural Hall.

So Jenkins had gotten his truck back and had gone to have new keys made. When he got home, he got the call that Boo'kie might have been found, and he and his family rushed to the clinic.

Meanwhile, Roberts and the rest of the clinic staff doted on Boo'kie. They gave him a new collar to replace the one that had been thrown away. They implanted a microchip under his skin, so that if he went missing again, he'd be easy to find.

Jenkins was amazed.

"They done everything," he said, "and they charged me nothing."

Jenkins had offered a $500 reward for Boo'kie's safe return, and when he met Calvery at the clinic, he tried to give her the money.

But she wouldn't take it.

"She said I could donate it to the vet if I wanted to, so I put some money in their jar," he said. Then, Jenkins took Boo'kie to the Hardee's restaurant in Walkertown and bought him a cheeseburger.

Calvery said she couldn't accept Jenkins' money.

"I believe in paying things forward," she said. "And that clinic, they do it every day. They take care of so many animals and so many people."

And, she said, she believes that we all need to help one another. In the 10 months since she was laid off, she has cobbled together a living from part-time work, fighting to keep her life intact.

"You have to keep doing what you need to do to keep yourself together, but there are some days I feel so defeated, I feel like I'm struggling and swimming in a circle," she said. "Every once in a while, you need a day to say, 'We need to look out for one another and stop being so d--- selfish all the time.' And if it's a pup that brings people together, then so be it."