LAFAYETTE, Colo. -- Thousands of dogs run away from home each year and it’s a miracle when they make it back safely. A dog owner in Boulder County has an even more rare story with his dog.
Bosco, an 11-year-old beagle mix, ran away from owner Bill Ballato’s yard in January 2014. They lived in in Rhode Island at the time.
It was a small town, so everyone knew Bosco and knew what dog they were looking for. Ballato put up missing posters, and contacted police and animal shelters, but no one could find Bosco.
A few month after Bosco disappeared, Ballato relocated to Lafayette.
“There were nights, horrible nights that I wondered, especially after big storms. But something told me that he’d make it,” Ballato said.
Fast forward two years.
“I received a message from a friend of mine that is a Wesley, R.I., police officer saying, ‘Hey, I saw Bosco last night’,” Ballato said.
It turns out, Bosco had been living on the streets of a small beach town near the home he originally ran away from. Someone spotted Bosco, so Sheilah Graham set a trap and lured him in with treats.
“Bosco played a good game of chess. But I love chess, so it’s just a matter of narrowing down his playing field,” she said.
Graham does not work for a rescue, but she volunteers with Missing Dogs of Massachusetts. She has assisted in more than 70 rescues over the past six years. Until now, all of the reunions have been local.
Ballato is disabled, and Bosco is too old and afraid to fly. So Graham volunteered to make the 2,000-mile drive from Rhode Island to Colorado to deliver Ballato his long-lost dog. Once out of his cage, Ballato kissed Bosco on the snout to welcome him home.
“That’s the reward,” a teary-eyed Graham said. “It makes the 36 hours in a car worth it.”
“It is overwhelming just the care that people have for animals,” Ballato said of Graham. “I don’t even know what to say.”
Bosco is healthy aside from some extra weight he put on while eating out of the dumpsters. He will have to go on a diet. He also developed a benign tumor on his behind and will need surgery to remove it.
Ballato made the trip from Rhode Island to Colorado on her own free time. She was not paid for any of the work she did. She spent about $500 to bring Bosco home.
A friend of Graham's set up a GoFundMe account to reimburse her for all the work she did.