Mystery solved about missing dog that filled need for two families

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Linda Slark was tending to her store on June 28 when some customers came in with a dog walking behind them. Slark thought the chihuahua belonged to them, but they said it didn&squo;t and the dog stayed. Slark owns Smoke Signals Trading Post in Columbus on West Mills Street and said she immediately had a connection with the dog so took her home with her that night. Slark fell in love with the tiny, tan chihuahua and named her &uot;Babe.&uot; At the time Slark was going through a rough time and the dog was the comfort she needed as the day she came was a day after the 38th anniversary of her father passing away. Her father&squo;s nickname was &uot;Babe,&uot; so Slark saw it fitting to name her new friend the same. &uot;Babe&uot; fell in love with the Slarks too and hung out in the store everyday. She had her own bed and her new dad, Homer Slark even fed her fried veal. &uot;Babe&uot; slept in between the couple every night and would roam the store during the day inside and out. She never left. That is, until five months later. The Slarks were frantic on the day before Thanksgiving last month when &uot;Babe&uot; had disappeared. The Slarks thought for sure someone had stolen the dog since she&squo;d never once ran off. The Slarks placed an advertisement in the Bulletin and considered a hefty reward for the recovery of their dog. Homer Slark said he searched everywhere for the dog and was angry thinking that someone had stolen her. Linda Slark said the day before &uot;Babe&uot; disappeared, &uot;Babe&uot; was acting strange, though. &uot;The day before (Babe) didn&squo;t want to lay with me,&uot; Linda Slark said. &uot;Babe&uot; wouldn&squo;t eat that day as if she knew she had somewhere else to be, Linda Slark said. Five months earlier Shane Blackwell, who owns Mountain View Barbecue in Columbus and lives off West Mills Street in Columbus let his dog, &uot;Precious,&uot; out and she never came back. &uot;Precious&uot; had never left in the 10 years Blackwell owned him and he was frantic. He and his dad, Boyd Blackwell, searched everywhere around town. &uot;Everywhere but here (the Smoke Signal),&uot; Blackwell said. The Smoke Signal is almost directly across the road from the Blackwell&squo;s home. Blackwell says he was up almost all night the first night, even wearing night vision goggles and after weeks of searching Columbus he finally determined that someone must have taken her and she wasn&squo;t coming home. &uot;It was like losing a kid, I&squo;m not kidding you,&uot; Shane Blackwell said. &uot;My kids were heart-broken.&uot; &uot;Precious&uot; was given to Shane Blackwell for his 21st birthday. Blackwell&squo;s dad really loved &uot;Precious&uot; and she spent a lot of time with him, Shane said. &uot;She would always come to Daddy when she wouldn&squo;t go to anybody else,&uot; Shane Blackwell said.&uot;He about drove himself crazy looking for &uot;Precious. He would always say, &squo;I wish we knew where Precious was.&squo;&uot; Boyd was diagnosed with cancer in the meantime and his health began to decline. On Nov. 26, Shane Blackwell said his wife called him at the restaurant crying. Shane said he just knew his dad must have died, but his wife was really calling to tell Shane that &uot;Precious&uot; came home. &uot;Precious&uot; came to Boyd Blackwell&squo;s house that day and ran right up the porch, into his room and jumped into the bed with him. &uot;You should have seen the way he (his dad) lit up,&uot; Shane Blackwell said. Boyd Blackwell died the next day with &uot;Precious&uot; between his legs. Boyd wasn&squo;t responding much to anybody the day &uot;Precious&uot; returned, but Shane said his dad, &uot;scooped her up.&uot; Shane says once someone took &uot;Precious&uot; off his dad&squo;s bed and &uot;Precious&uot; barked and went crazy until they put her back with his father. The advertisement brought the missing dog story to a close. Blackwell said after his dad died, he was told about the ad in the paper. He looked at it and didn&squo;t know what to think, but he thought that couldn&squo;t be &uot;Precious&uot; because &uot;Precious&uot; is home. After talking to Mike Edwards at the Bulletin, who had been in contact with both owners, the case was solved. Blackwell family members visited the store and by this time the Slarks had been told where their missing &uot;Babe&uot; had gone. The Slarks say they are glad to see she made it home. Linda Slark says she feels like &uot;Babe&uot; came to her when she needed her and &uot;Precious&uot; came home when Boyd Blackwell needed him. The Slarks now have a new chihuahua named &uot;Angel,&uot; who lives with them and hangs out in her bed at the Smoke Signals store just as &uot;Babe did. &uot;Angel&uot; just happens to have some similiarities to &uot;Precious,&uot; and not just because they are both chihuahuas. &uot;Angel&uot; is &uot;Precious&squo;&uot; grand-daughter. Shane Blackwell says his father bred &uot;Precious&squo;&uot; son and had two puppies. After Boyd&squo;s passing, Shane&squo;s family took the puppies to the Foothills Humane Society in hopes of finding them a good home and later told the Slark&squo;s about the puppies. Shane said if he&squo;d known all this, he would have just brought both the puppies across the street. Linda Slark said &uot;Angel&squo;s&uot; papers say she is a little over a year old. Coincidentally, or maybe not, &uot;Angel&uot; was born on Nov. 27, 2007, exactly one year to the day before Boyd Blackwell died.


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