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Doggone it: Dovray dog goes missing

DOVRAY -- It is the case of the missing special needs dog.

Tiffany Holmes, a Dovray resident with cerebral palsy, claims her dog, a golden Labrador retriever, was stolen on Jan. 2. It may have been shot, she says. Or it might still be alive, though she knows not where.

The plan to kidnap Buddy, she suspects, was hatched at the local café. She has heard reports about townspeople who have bragged about the deed.

Holmes, 22, remains frustrated in the belief that the dognappers are being protected by local residents. She has contacted local law enforcement to enlist their help. They appear not to be interested, she said.

Not so, replied Murray County Sheriff Steve Telkamp.

"We have tried to find the dog. If we did find it, we would bring it back to her," said Telkamp, who reported that his department has interviewed local residents without discovering a solid lead.

The story of Tiffany and Buddy's friendship begins about 1½ years ago, when she and her mother, Marjorie, rescued the animal that appeared to have been dumped in Dovray.

"He came to town and he looked as if he'd been malnourished," Tiffany recalled Wednesday. "He came to the house and he never left. He spent the first night on the back porch."

Advertisements were placed to locate the dog's owner, but no one claimed him. So they kept him and trained him to become Tiffany's special helper. The bandy-legged creature was given a good home.

"He turned into a really nice specimen of a golden lab," Tiffany said.

Buddy was a good friend and a highly intelligent animal, Tiffany and her mother say. The dog, a neutered male, helped Tiffany to stand and to walk, supporting her by bracing himself against her body. When she fell, Buddy would help her up. In the morning when Tiffany's muscles were stiff, he helped her get out of bed.

Telkamp said he is sympathetic to the Holmeses' plight, but noted the department has little to go on at this point.

"Every time (Tiffany) calls me, she tells me she knows who stole it. But she won't tell me who," Telkamp said. "It was a stray animal that she had picked up. Every time she's called, we've tried to do something for her. But without her cooperation, there's not much more we can do."

Telkamp said his department was told the dog "runs all over town," and some have wondered if it simply may have run away. At least one person has called Buddy a "vicious animal."

But that's a case of mistaken identity, Tiffany and Marjorie counter. There are three or four other yellow labs in town, and one in particular they know is "mean." Buddy was always well-controlled and was a friendly dog, the Holmeses say. He was only loose when Marjorie took him out in the country to stretch his legs.

"Buddy certainly wasn't running around, and he certainly wasn't vicious, and I've had people tell me what a nice dog he is," Tiffany said.

At least one Dovray resident, a neighbor, is taking the Holmeses' side in this controversy. She has written a letter to the mayor demanding action.

But many other townspeople, say Tiffany, are either dismissive or downright hostile. She said one person told her he knows what happened to the dog, but he refused to give her the information. She had heard that Buddy was shot. Now, the latest bit of gossip is that two men took Buddy and another dog, shot the other dog and kept Buddy.

Tiffany said she has been physically and verbally threatened when asking about the whereabouts of her dog. She believes she may have made enemies some time ago when she refused to turn over a building she owns to the fire department.

Now, she explained, "mainly when I ask people, they just say, 'I don't know anything.'"

Marjorie and Tiffany, who have deep roots in Dovray (population 67), say they are reluctant to criticize, but believe the people of Dovray don't seem to care that the special needs dog is gone.

"It's very hurtful," said Tiffany, sitting at the piano in the white, blue-trimmed, old-fashioned home built by her great-grandfather. "We'd never want to say anything bad about the town. This house is the family home. This house has been in the family 100 years."

Tiffany said she's not sure what to do next.

"I hate the thought of people getting away with it. Because then, where does it stop, people getting away with things? You always think there's something more you can do. But I'm running out of ideas."

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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