Dog is returned to owner after 9 month 150 mile trip

Staff writer

It is hard to find something more heartwarming than a little girl reunited with her best four-legged friend. That is exactly what took place Tuesday at the home of Judy Dannenfelser near Marion County Lake as she helped return Titan the Great Dane to his owner, 3-year-old Kiera DeJaynes.

The story began nine months ago in Easton, nearly 150 miles away from Marion. Patricia DeJaynes had let Titan and the other family dog out to play outside their country house. Because Great Danes are shorthaired dogs, Titan slept inside but enjoyed playtime outside during the day.

“We never had a problem with them running off,” DeJaynes said. “One night one dog came home and the other one didn’t.”

DeJaynes said they contacted local shelters to see if his microchip had been read but never heard anything, so they gave him up for dead.

“We thought because of his age, six years old, that he probably had a heart attack while out running around,” Patricia’s husband, Jeff DeJaynes, said. “Six is old for a Great Dane. We explained to Kiera that he was not coming home, mourned and everything. Never did we think he would be found, especially not after this long.

“Our other dog was so depressed Titan was gone that we went and adopted another dog to be his companion for fear he would be so depressed he would die.”

However, he was noticed Sunday night by Mary Beth Bowers, who spotted Titan in a ditch along U.S. 77 near her house, nearly 150 miles from his.

“I was heading into Marion when I saw him,” she said. “I was afraid he would eat our chickens so I called my husband to lock them up. He went to search for the dog that night but never found him.”

Instead, Titan found them the following morning.

“The dogs started barking like crazy, and we had just woken up so my husband went to check it out,” she said. “When he came back inside I asked him what it was and he said there was a horse in the yard.”

Bowers was able to capture Titan and called Dannenfelser who has had previous experience with large dogs.

“I called Judy, and within five minutes she was at my house to pick him up,” Bowers said.

Dannenfelser took Titan straight to Animal Health Center, where he was checked out and given a clean bill of health. It was there they discovered Titan was microchipped. A veterinarian was able to trace Titan’s owners through the chip and send them a message that Titan had been located.

While waiting for the owners to call, Dannenfelser took Titan home where he was finally able to relax and eat and make himself right at home, which he did by taking up a sizable portion of Dannenfelser’s bed Monday night.

“He slept all day Monday on the couch,” she said. “I think he was exhausted. That night I made him a bed near mine and before I could even get to my side he was already up on the bed. Between him and my two schnauzers it was like a coffin. Titan is a big dog.”

DeJaynes said she received notification Titan had been found at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

“We have been up since then we were so excited,” she said. “A few weeks ago I had gotten an e-mail from the micro chip company asking if I had updated his information lately. I thought very seriously about calling them and telling them the dog was dead, but for some reason I didn’t. Thank goodness I didn’t!”

The DeJaynes made the three-hour trek to Marion to pick up Titan Tuesday afternoon. Titan immediately buried his head in Jeff DeJaynes’ lap. He only budged to accept a pet from Kiera, who was grinning from ear to ear.

“He is her dog,” DeJaynes said. “He was my guard dog when I was pregnant; they were inseparable after she was born. He is the best friend a little kid could have.”

DeJaynes said when she asked Kiera if she remembered Titan she responded, “Yes. He’s my pillow.”

DeJaynes remarked how much weight Titan had lost during his time away.

“He was starved as a puppy, he was 9 months old and weighed only 30 lbs. (that is about 30 pounds underweight for a Great Dane that age) since then he would get really anxious when we didn’t have food out so he was used to eating what he wanted,” she said. “He was no small dog when he ran off. I bet he’s lost 40 lbs.”

She said he looked to be at about the perfect weight for a dog his size.

After strong urging from Kiera, Titan was loaded into the back of DeJaynes’ car for a more comfortable ride home with his family and a few more gray hairs then he had nine months ago. DeJaynes suspects that once home Titan will pick up right where he left off, “couch surfing” and being a nice warm pillow for Kiera.

Dannenfelser said she would not have minded keeping Titan because of his sweet and gentle personality, but knew he would be much better off with those who loved him first.

“Thank God he was micro chipped or he might have never found his way home,” Bowers said.

She equated Titan’s journey to the movie, “The Incredible Journey.” The movie follows two dogs, Chance and Shadow, and a cat, Sassy, who travel cross-country in search of their humans.

“I wish he could talk,” she said. “Maybe with the press we can get someone to come forward to fill the gaps from the time he left until the time I found him Monday.”

Because of Titan’s shorthaired coat, Bowers believes that he might have been taken in by someone during the extreme cold spell that covered the state two weeks ago.

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