MILLBURY, Mass. — Bay the rescue dog is back home after five years on the streets.
Nearly five years ago, “Bay,” an 18-month-old Basenji rescue dog, escaped from Renee Perry’s brother’s home and disappeared in Massachusetts.
Perry and her friends searched for the wandering pooch, described as shy and timid, with no luck.
“There was never any sign of her,” said Perry, a Framingham Public Schools teacher who lives in Millbury. “We looked all summer. I always looked.”
Bay’s life on the run was undone in Needham, Massachusetts when she yielded to the temptation of a free meal.
It’s not clear how Bay made it to Needham, but she began popping up in a backyard there about three years ago, said Danielle Matthew, a volunteer for Missing Dogs Massachusetts, a group that tries to reunite missing dogs with their owners.
The Needham residents who discovered Bay found extra dog poop in their yard and set up a camera to determine the culprit. Eventually, they found the suspect, the white Basenji mix.
The residents thought the dog was local and that its owners had just let it roam. They would even occasionally feed her.
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Bay escaped an initial attempt to trap her and continued to visit the yard, as well as the nearby Wellesley town dump.
Last year, someone saw a photo of Bay on a Needham community page but thought it was another dog that Missing Dogs of Massachusetts had been looking for. Matthew contacted that Needham resident, and it turned out Bay was not the dog in question, but the pair stayed in touch.
More recently, Matthew and another volunteer decided to catch the prowling pooch. Last week, they set up the trap, and early Tuesday morning, they caught the wandering woofer when she went in to snag a meal.
“We thought this had to be someone’s dog because she was so plump,” said Matthew. “Then we got closer and she was covered with tics and she had dirty ears, really dirty all over the place.”
Bay was taken to a local animal hospital where she received “several baths.” They had to cut off her collar, which had grown tight. Once the dog was in custody, her rescuers scanned her microchip, leading them to Perry.
While on the run Bay ate well, gaining 10 pounds since her disappearance in June 2016. The collar she was wearing was the same one she had on when she escaped, suggesting she hadn’t been taken in by anyone.
“It’s so incredible,” said Matthew. “This was great and gives a lot of owners some hope.”
Bay is now home and adjusting to the life of a dog with a family after so many years alone on the streets. Perry said she’s taking her time to let Bay get comfortable again.
“Every once in a while I’d mention her and say, ‘I wonder what happened to her.’ I’m so happy,” said Perry. “When she’s home with me and my (other) dog, she has moments of joy. And then there are moments when she just sits and stares, like she’s trying to figure out things.”
Follow Norman Miller on Twitter: @Norman_MillerMW.