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Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service, Published March 26 2013

After emotional search, Grand Forks family reunited with missing dog

GRAND FORKS – A local family was reunited with its lost pet German shepherd – a retired military police dog that suffers from a serious medical condition – here Tuesday after an emotional 21-hour search.

Nick was found by a north-side resident who discovered the ailing animal lying outside his home and contacted the owners, Jen Maples and Master Sgt. David Crawley, an airman at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

“I’ve been in tears all day,” Maples said after bringing Nick home. “We’re so grateful that somebody cared enough to take him in.”

The nearly 10-year-old dog, who has served two tours overseas with the military and two tours with another federal agency, went missing at about 5 p.m. Monday from their home.

Nick suffers from a genetic condition and requires medication to ease the pain, especially in his hind legs, according to Maples.

“My biggest fear is that he’s lying somewhere and can’t get up,” she said Tuesday morning.

That fear turned out to be too close to reality, she said.

Gordy Linnell, who lives about seven blocks away, said he and his wife, Geri, saw the dog in his yard when they went outside to feed the birds near sunset Monday.

“You could tell he was good and healthy, a real polite dog, like he was taken care of,” Linnell said. “He wasn’t walking too bad then.”

Nick was still in the yard in the morning.

The Linnells fed him but didn’t know who to contact about their newfound companion.

Then, a neighbor said he received an alert on his iPhone about a news story on the missing dog that was posted online Tuesday morning.

Linnell then contacted Maples, who came over to retrieve their lost pet.

She said she had to lift the dog into their van.

“His legs are in pretty bad shape,” she said. “He must have done a lot of walking. Someone said they saw him by Darcy’s Cafe (about six blocks north) at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday.”

Maples said Nick was resting at home Tuesday afternoon and that a local veterinarian, who happens to be a family friend, planned to stop by to check him out.

“He’s hurting and not moving much, but we think he’s going to be all right,” she said.

“We’re just so grateful to everybody who helped,” she said. “We were afraid we were going to lose him, but now he’s back home.”