Rosie comes home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 12, 2005

Rosie n the poster pooch of runaways n is finally home.

The 141-pound English Mastiff disappeared into the woods in the 1500 block of Holland Road on

Nov. 3, moments after the door was opened to the crushed black Volkswagen Beetle that Rosie had been riding in with her owner, Ella Benson.

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Benson was on her way to meet Karyn Cook, a mastiff breeder and owner of the pet boutique, The Hydrant, when her car was involved in a three-vehicle accident. The two were taking Rosie and her sister, Clover, to make their dog show debuts in Virginia Beach that morning.

But apparently dazed and frightened by the confusion, Rosie, purple leash in tow, fled into the thickets behind the Days Inn. Benson, Cook and a group of men at a nearby gas station gave chase, to no avail.

For six days, Rosie n a pampered pup used to eating fresh meat for breakfast and snoozing on a leather couch n apparently fended for herself in the wild.

Benson, Cook and a couple of other friends spent upwards of eight hours a day for the next week searching for the dog. They plastered subdivisions, ball fields and store parking lots with fliers of Rosie.

They ran advertisements in newspapers. They called an animal communicator, who said the dog was safe and was still roaming through neighborhoods in and around the Holland Road.

Rosie’s search crew roamed neighborhoods, yelling the dog’s name and even using machetes to cut their way through woods and marshes.

E-mails and phone calls to local veterinarians, shelters, friends, friends of friends and the Suffolk Police Department had people across the city on the lookout for the dog.

And still, no sign of Rosie.

“People were great about keeping their eyes open,” said Benson. “We appreciate everyone’s help so much.

“We still didn’t hear anything for days. That was strange; a dog that big doesn’t just drop off the side of the Earth. Honestly, I was starting to really doubt I would get her back.”

Everything changed around midday Wednesday, with a phone call from Tim and Agnes McCall. The McCalls live at the very end of Raleigh Drive, about three miles from where Benson’s car was involved in the earlier accident.

Tim and a friend were getting in his pickup truck, when he noticed a dog n “a very big dog” n hovering around a wooded area near his home.

“He was huge; I made my friend go up there and pet him,” said Tim, on Thursday, as Rosie n cleaned up and rested since her jaunt – stopped by for a visit.

“She was so gentle and she had a collar on; we knew she had to be someone’s pet.”

So the couple tied Rosie up and dialed the Benson’s number on the collar n the same number that had been posted all over town for days.

But, said the McCalls, they never saw a single flier or newspaper ad for Rosie until late Friday afternoon.

“It’s just amazing to me,” said Benson. “When I think of all the fliers we put out and the number of times they might have see a herd of crazed people running up and down (Route) 58 looking for Rosie, it surprises me that they hadn’t even heard she was missing.

“They say Mastiffs are very intuitive dogs. I think maybe Rosie was getting tired and hungry and she saw them outside and knew they were nice people.

“Consider it divine intervention, luck, a miracle, whatever you want to call it.”

Cook calls it a prayer being answered.

The same day Benson received the McCall’s phone call, Cook and a friend prayed together for Rosie’s safe return. Just an hour later, Rosie wandered up to the McCall’s rural home.

“I think God took her to the right place at the right time,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that God blesses several people at the same time.

“Rosie went into the McCalls life the same day their hot water heater broke down. They refused to take a reward, but they agreed to take enough money to have their hot water heater repaired.

“I was so happy when I got there and saw it was Rosie. I sat right there and cried my eyes out.”

So did Anges McCall.

“Tears started rolling down my face,” she said. “I said thank you to Jesus Christ … for bringing that dog to a Christian family.

“It’s amazing they way things happen. God can do awesome things.”

Since getting home, Rosie has happily returned to frequent naps on the couch with occasional breaks spent gnawing on pig ears and rawhide bones. With the exception of losing a couple of pounds and picking up dozens of ticks, her veterinarian says the fawn-colored Mastiff in none the worse for the experience.

“I’m so excited,” said Benson, who took her four-legged pal on a shopping spree to Pet Smart Friday morning.

“We bought tons of dog food and big old bones to chew on,” she said. “Rosie is a happy camper … and so am I.”