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Missing Rindge dog found in New Ipswich after two weeks

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Walnut, an English bulldog that went missing from her Rindge home on Aug. 19 has been found. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Travis Rautiola of New Ipswich found Walnut, an English bulldog that was missing from her Rindge home since Aug. 19. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Ipswich resident Travis Rautiola was returning home from a fishing trip on Sept. 2 when he would reel in his biggest catch of the day. 

On Boynton Hill Road, Rautiola would observe a white and brown English Bulldog crossing the road, an animal that he would immediately recognize from missing dog posters and signs that had been posted all over Rindge and New Ipswich over the past two weeks. 

“I like being able to help people out, it wasn’t a chore at all,” said Rautiola, of reuniting the 8-year-old Walnut with her owner, Debbie Wilkes of Rindge. “I was just happy that I could do something to help someone out.”

Walnut – who was named for the brown spot on top of her head – had been missing since Aug. 19, according to Wilkes. To this day, Wilkes is unsure why her dog strayed away from home.

“I’ve asked, but she hasn’t answered me,” said Wilkes, with a laugh. “She’s a total couch potato and pretty laid back.”

Wilkes said she has never had a problem with one of her dogs – she also has another English Bulldog and a French Bulldog – leaving her Candlelight Road property, so she fell into a panic when Walnut went missing.

“I was really scared for her because she’s really not built for the outdoors,” said Wilkes. “She’s a pampered pooch.”

Wilkes immediately began knocking on her neighbor’s doors, asking if they had seen her dog. After no such luck, Wilkes began the process of expanding her search, which involved nightly searches, placing missing dog signs throughout Rindge and neighboring communities, and putting advertisements in the Ledger-Transcript.

Wilkes also reached out to local police departments and organizations like Granite State Dog Recovery for help.

“I’ve met some of the best people during the worst circumstance,” said Wilkes. “I still get calls asking if I’ve found her… people really cared.”

Rautiola said he had never met Wilkes prior to reuniting her with her dog, although he was quite familiar with her neighborhood because his girlfriend lives on the same street.

“It was definitely meant to be,” said Rautiola, who said that while he never actively searched for the dog, he hoped he would be the person to find her. “I come to Candlelight almost every day. I wasn’t expecting to find her near my home though. She came to me right away. I think she knew she needed help.”

While the exact route that Walnut took from Rindge to New Ipswich is still unknown, both Rautiola and Wilkes speculate that she found the power lines in town and followed them to New Ipswich. Walnut was found approximately 5 miles from her home if she took a straight-shot route to where she was found, according to Google Maps. 

Upon finding Walnut, Rautiola said he immediately began to comfort her and loaded her into his truck. Rautiola would return home, give Walnut some food and water, and reach out to his mother as she knew how to contact Wilkes.

“It was the longest ride of my life,” said Wilkes, who said she jumped in her car the second she got off the phone with Rautiola. “We were a little skeptical at first because we had someone call a couple days before from someone who found a dog… it turned out not to be Walnut.”

Rautiola said Walnut was not in the greatest shape when the two crossed paths, as the dog looked skinny and had bloodshot eyes and quills in her face. 

Despite her injuries, Walnut has rebounded nicely since returning home. The 47-pound dog lost more than 10 pounds during her journey, but has already gained a few of those pounds back. Wilkes said the vets are currently looking at a lump that appeared on Walnut’s left cheek, believing that it may be a quill stuck in her face. 

While Wilkes never gave up hope on finding Walnut, she does admit she doesn’t think her dog would have survived another day in the wilderness, as the next day welcomed a brutal rainstorm. 

“He’s like our guardian angel,” said Wilkes, of Rautiola. “We are just so grateful to Travis. I’m still on cloud nine. It’s such a miracle.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.