12 January 2010

Deaf Dog Found, Reward Money Donated!

The couple who found Luna in their Loudonville backyard a couple of miles from the veterinary hospital where the deaf dog escaped have turned down the reward money. Instead, the couple who asked not to be identified, want the money to go to charity.

After Luna, a bulldog mix, disappeared Jan. 2, Ralph Rataul and his wife, Shelley, put up an $800 reward, which included their money, a contribution from Shaker Veterinary Hospital on Maxwell Road and donations from friends.

Luna was found at 12:30 p.m. Monday in the backyard of the couple's Springwood Manor Drive. The street runs alongside State Police Troop G headquarters on Route 9 across from Siena College.

Rataul said half of the reward will be donated to the ASPCA and the other half to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society in the name of the couple who found the family pet.

The couple tried to get Luna inside, recognizing the dog from a story that appeared in the Sunday Times Union, but Luna resisted. So, they called the veterinary hospital and the hospital staff call Rataul.

Luna, who was adopted three years ago as a rescue dog and was probably deaf from birth, saw Rataul but didn't immediately recognize him. "At first she was scared, but then realized it was her dad," said Ken Wolfe, assistant director of the hospital.

Rataul said Luna backed into a corner where two fences merged, barked at him, and he feared "she was going to bolt at any time." But slowly she realized who he was and approached him, and when she reached him, jumped on him.

"I'm overjoyed," Rataul said at a Monday news conference. "This is unreal. She's home, she's safe." The couple feared the worse, primarily because of the dog's handicap. She can't hear someone calling her, nor traffic.

"She's not an outdoors dog, not a hunting dog, but some instinctual stuff must have kicked in" for her to survive, he said. "Whatever she was doing, she was doing it right." Luna dropped 12 pounds but despite the ordeal she was in good shape, the vets said. She weighted 65 pounds when she took off.

"She's going to be on GPS all the time now," Rataul quipped.