For a local family who desired no greater Christmas present than the return of their missing beagle, a helping paw from a fellow shelter dog helped provide a happy holiday.
On Christmas Eve, an alert was issued for a lost beagle named Cooper in East Windsor. Cooper's collar had snapped and he took off running at about 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 23, leaving the family devastated.
The next day at about 3 p.m., East Windsor resident Brian Yursha was out walking his dog Stella, who was adopted from A.F.E.W a couple of months ago. As Yursha and Stella were out walking, Stella seemed to gain a new friend.
“We were walking for about 15 minutes and all of a sudden a dog came out of nowhere and started following us," Yursha said. "He didn't have a collar on. I wasn't sure if someone owned him or if he was homeless."
Yursha and Stella continued their walk as the wayward beagle continued to follow them while the weather began to turn nasty.
"I eventually saw a picture of the dog on a tree with a phone number," Yursha said. "We then turned around and got back to the house as soon as possible. He probably followed us for over a mile. I couldn't believe it. Stella was very calm around him. I was very nervous about all the cars driving by. I did not want the dog to get injured or killed."
Once back at his home, Yursha said Cooper was hesitant to come in, but his new found friendship with little Stella helped soothe the scared beagle's nerves.
"We got back to the house and I invited the dog inside and he actually came in," Yursha said. "He looked a little nervous outside, but once he came in the house he was wagging his tail and playing with Stella. I'm proud of Stella. She did a good job. She was calm the whole time."
Yursha credited Stella with finding Cooper, as he said he wouldn't have been out walking without her and Cooper felt comfortable following her, he noted. Cooper's shocked owner soon came over about five minutes after Yursha made the call.
Cooper had been adopted from another shelter about a month earlier. Stella herself waited a long time for adoption, having come into the shelter in early 2011, before bring adopted in October 2012.
"It feels great to find a missing dog, especially the day before Christmas," Yursha said. "It was snowing and raining later that night, who knows what would have happened to Cooper if Stella wasn't out there walking that day. Stella is a great dog. I'm very happy with her.”