We are riding the tail of Heidi, a German Shepherd who works with her owner through “Dogs Finding Dogs.”
"We're looking for her to give us clues so we know how to work this case and get the dog back home," said Anne Wills, Executive Director, Dogs Finding Dogs.
Heidi's job is to drop hints about Bella, a 12-year-old Yorkie who hasn't been seen by her owners since last Saturday afternoon.
"It's like you walk in the house and you want to instinctly call her name but she's not going to come," said a tearful Chantelle Schenning, Bella’s owner.
Schenning says Bella is used to going in the yard alone, even crossing the street to the playground. That's where she was last seen.
So to start, Heidi smells Bella's bed and then leads her trainer, first around the yard and then right across to the playground.
"We got a dead stop right over here," said Wills.
Heidi looks for her reward, a ball.
"The fact that she didn't go any farther tells me that it probably looks like this dog was picked up off the ground," said Wills.
Schenning says there were teens at the park. Her dog was gone and so were they.
Fliers are up, but the attention has brought voice messages that make her worry.
"Good news, I find your dog. Bad news, I run your dog over with my car," said a man on a voicemail Schenning played.
That message came in from a blocked number. She's also getting questions about the monetary reward.
"They're saying what's the reward, and when I ask if they have my dog they're not very clear about it at all," said Schenning.
Anne Wills says the number of stolen dog cases has gone up, particularly in Essex. Thieves are after small dogs, not considering the emotions attached to the animal.
"When she's with strangers, I know she gets very sick and she's 12. So I'm wondering is she going to die with somebody else," said Schenning.
The director of “Dogs Finding Dogs” is certain that Bella was picked up. She will help with the effort to bring her back home and says the success rate is about 75 percent.
Anne Wills says it's an important reminder to keep your dog on a leash and don't trust them out alone.
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