LOWVILLE It was the north countrys own incredible journey: a stray-dog call in Lewis County turned out to be more than routine for dog control officer Heath L. Ash, who serves the towns of Lowville and Martinsburg.
Roxie, a medium-sized, female mixed breed, had made her way more than 60 miles from her Dolgeville home in Herkimer County to a porch in the town of Martinsburg. And previous treks Roxie had made through Lewis County via car indicates she may have known exactly where she was heading. Her owner, Richard C. Smitty Smith, said he owns a camp in Alexandria Bay where they travel almost every weekend.
Mr. Smith said he expected to leave last Friday as usual and let Roxie out about 3 p.m. She was able to leave the yard, he suspects, because dead or weak batteries in her collar allowed her to escape his invisible fence.
When she didnt return, Mr. Smith got in the car and began a local search.
I bet I put 200 miles in looking for her, driving around his neighborhood for several days, he said. By Tuesday, he decided to go to his camp, figuring that if she was found, he would receive a call since she was wearing an identification tag. He wasnt particularly worried, though; Ive been here before, he said.
About a year ago, Roxie ventured out on a similar route. She was found about 40 miles away on Hinckley Reservoir after six days.
She was sleeping on a party barge, Mr. Smith said. I guess she figured, This is a boat; that guy must be here somewhere, as he and Roxie spend a lot of time on his boat on the St. Lawrence River.
Mr. Smith said Roxie shows signs of separation anxiety when shes away from him, such as when he leaves her in his truck while he is in a store.
She follows me everywhere, he said. When I am in the yard, she is always right here. When she cant see him, he said, she is desperate to find him.
About three years ago, she pulled an especially desperate stunt when he locked her in the camp in Alexandria Bay and went on a boat ride to Canada.
It wasnt long before he got a call from a woman asking if he owned a dog named Roxie.
She scratched through a screen on the second story and jumped out, Mr. Smith said. Roxie then swam about a half mile up the river to another island.
There was a woman in a boat and there was Roxie, paddling behind her, he said.
When Mr. Ash picked Roxie up Wednesday morning on Glendale Road, he discovered her identification tag and called Mr. Smith. Mr. Ash was surprised to discover Roxies journey had started five days before.
While waiting for Mr. Smith to retrieve Roxie, Mr. Ash held her on a leash.
Shell respond to me if I call her name. Shes a little curious, but then you can tell, shes like, Ive got places to go, Mr. Ash said.
When Mr. Smith arrived Wednesday afternoon, the dogs demeanor changed immediately. She perked up, barked and clearly was happy to see him.
Mr. Smith isnt certain of Roxies age but estimates she is about 13 years old. He adopted her from a shelter in 2002. Ironically, he said, her tendency to run away is probably why she was in the shelter to begin with.