How the search for a lost dog drew a community together
It was a Saturday afternoon when I first heard about Astrid.
Imagine taking your family, dog included, on a beach vacation. You just want to get away from it all after experiencing the death of a loved one. You have a great time at the beach with your family and your German Shepherd, and as it nears the time to pack up and head back home, your dog escapes from your hotel room and cannot be found. That’s the story that drew me to Astrid and a community Facebook page.
I was first introduced to the Lost Pets of Horry/Georgetown Countys Facebook page a few months ago when I saw a stray dog in the Grand Strand Magazine parking lot. If was after 5 p.m., so I wasn’t sure where or whom to call. That’s when I found this wonderful group of people who have a passion for reuniting lost pets with loved ones. Astrid’s mother, Amanda Newcomer, also discovered the same Facebook page after she initially made a post on craigslist.
It was a heartbreaking story that drew me in immediately. Amanda is from Tennessee and she just recently lost her mother. She was given a gift of a family trip to Myrtle Beach, where she could get away from her sorrow with a fun-filled few days at the beach. Astrid, a German Shepherd she had rescued, accompanied the family to Myrtle Beach, where she was also able to enjoy some dips in the Atlantic Ocean. Just before the family was to head back to Tennessee, Astrid escaped when a housekeeper opened the hotel room door.
Panicked, Amanda searched everywhere for Astrid. Astrid was spotted on the beach while Amanda was driving in her car. By the time Amanda got back to the beach, Astrid was gone. And so it went for the next day when they had to check out of their hotel room and return to Tennessee. But instead of hitting the road that day, they slept in their car hoping that the extra day would surely see them reunited. But that didn’t happen.
While Amanda was searching for Astrid, she put a post on craiglist, and that is when she was introduced to the Lost Pets of Horry/Georgetown Countys Facebook page. The page was created by Robbie Wozunk in December 2013 when her cat, Miles, was missing and she was looking for a way to reach out to the community to help her find Miles. Now, less than three years later, the Facebook page has more than 5000 members and is co-administered by Carol Duty. Carol saw Amanda’s post and reached out to her. That’s when the magic started happening. Carol quickly posted Astrid’s photo on the Lost Pets of Horry/Georgetown Countys Facebook page and immediately group members were out looking for Astrid.
I couldn’t help but be drawn in. I’ve written about my dog, Annie, several times in Grand Strand Magazine, and I’m so sad to say that Annie is no longer with me. She lived 15 years, 1 month and 12 days. It was only about three weeks before this that I watched her take her last breath. So when I started reading about Astrid and Amanda, I wanted to do everything I could to help them. In some way I felt like I was doing it for Annie. Or, at least, to ease the pain of losing her by helping someone else reunite with their best friend.
It was heartwarming to read the Facebook posts from everyone out looking for Astrid. She was spotted on a Saturday morning near my neighborhood. Then she was spotted running near Target in Myrtle Beach. Dozens of people were out driving the streets trying to find her. But Astrid was running scared and it seemed like the only person who was going to be able to catch her was Amanda. Amanda got help from a friend in Tennessee to take care of her son who had to be in school, and she packed up the car again with her two younger children and made the seven-hour trip back to Myrtle Beach.
She left early Monday morning and arrived by 5 p.m. Several people jumped in to help Amanda. Carol Duty offered her a place to stay; Susan Brown drove the streets with her all night with the kids asleep in the back seat. Come day break, Dana Grenert took a shift and drove Amanda, who could barely keep her eyes open. Susan stayed behind with the kids. They got the break they were looking for at 10 a.m. Tuesday when an Astrid sighting came in. Someone spotted her in Myrtle Beach on 30th Avenue North between Kings Highway and Oak Street. Amanda and Dana headed that way. Miraculously, Amanda heard Astrid jingle her collar and spotted her cowering by a car. When Astrid heard Amanda’s voice, she “jumped on top of me and started giving me kisses,” says Amanda. Astrid then jumped in the car and she hasn’t been away from Amanda since.
So Amanda, Astrid, the Lost Pets of Horry/Georgetown Countys and the entire Grand Strand community got their happy ending. It brought tears to the eyes of many of those involved in the search, mine included.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF AMANDA NEWCOMER AND CAROL DUTY