Eighty-year-old Doris Rice got a special delivery from her Nevada Appeal carrier late Tuesday evening. A delivery that gave her ample reason to give thanks this holiday season.
Rice's black Chow, named Taz, disappeared from her house the Saturday before Halloween. Then, the day after Halloween, she was forced to put her other dog to sleep, leaving Rice without companionship for the first time in years.
"(Taz) was my right arm, I don't know what I would do without him. He is good company, and he keeps me busy. I have liver cancer, and he seemed to know I was ill and stayed close to me," said Rice.
The dog was originally owned by Rice's son, Dan Irish, an animal behaviorist who adopted Taz at 4 days old and trained him to be a therapy dog. He gave Taz to his mom four years ago to help keep her company.
"He's a special guy. He's deaf, but he's her constant companion. Wherever she goes, he is right there with her," said Irish.
Distraught over the loss of Taz, Rice said, she would wake up at night and realize he wasn't there, sleeping as he usually did at the head of her bed. She made fliers asking for information, put them up in her neighborhood and handed them out to the children at the bus stop up the street from her house. One of the boys took the flier home and showed his mom, Denise Warner.
"My son brought home the flier and that brought my attention to the dog, and I noticed it in a yard while I was delivering papers," Warner said.
In a twist of fate, Rice called her carrier with an unrelated request and Warner relayed that she thought she had seen Rice's dog.
"The carrier picked up my son and took him to the house and my son brought Taz home. I just thank God the carrier saw him and told me, it's just a miracle," Rice said.
The 11-year-old Taz was reunited with Rice on Tuesday evening, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Irish said, "I don't think (Rice) has really realized he is back yet. I called her right away when I picked him up, and she cried a whole lot. We are just stunned that we found him."
"He is sitting right next to her and he is definitely smiling," Irish said.
n Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.