Friday, March 26, 2010

Koozie, Rhodesian Ridgeback/chow mix

Dog missing for days rescued on Lake Erie
By S Alexander Gerould
March 17, 2010

WESTFIELD When Nate Myers, his mother Dixie, and sister Amanda decided to take a walk along Lake Erie near Bourne's Beach, they had no idea it wouldn't be just a usual trek along the shore.

Nate, a fisherman, was checking on the conditions of the mouth of a creek which runs into the lake. Meanwhile, his mother and sister were busy taking photographs of the natural wonders lining the lake's shore.

But, out in the lake, something didn't seem right.

"They were taking pictures of the lake, and I happened to look out and saw a dark spot. I thought, 'What is that?'" Nate said. "I noticed it started moving. We have a pretty good camera, so we zoomed in on it and realized there was a dog out there."


Phil Frost lives near Evangola State Park and Farnham, about 30 miles away from Westfield. It was around mid-morning on Thursday, March 11, when he noticed his dog, Koozie, a Rhodesian Ridgeback and Chow mix, had gone missing. Frost filed a pet Amber alert online, plastered his friends' Facebook pages with messages asking if they had seen his dog and put about 200 fliers at area businesses around his home.

"I was searching the woods since Thursday afternoon for some time, every day getting out of the woods well after dark," Frost said. "I would get out there first thing in the morning."

Then, on Tuesday, he got a call from a friend about a dog which was stuck on the Lake Erie ice near Barcelona.

"My buddy called and said his mother saw the news and there was a dog (stuck on the ice)," Frost said. "So, I jumped on and I was watching it (the news). It was dark, but you could see the thermal image of the dog. I looked at it, and I knew right away it was her. I could tell from the silhouette, the way she moved. They said the dog had actually bit one of the rescuers and I said, 'Wow, that sounds like Koozie to me.'"

Frost then called the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office, who put him in touch with the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department.

"I called them and gave them a description. They called back and said they think they found my dog and sent me a picture," Frost said. "All I could care about was please let it be her. I must have said that about a million times. All I could think about was getting her home."


At first, Nate said he and his family were unsure of what to do, as they thought the dog's owner may have walked out onto the ice or was nearby. After a while, they decided to call the Westfield Police, who put them in touch with the fire department.

Soon, a rescue effort was under way, with Westfield firefighters donning wet suits and using a ice sled, while an Erie County Sheriff's helicopter and a rescue boat from Dewittville headed to the scene.

"It took a while to finally decide what to do," said Randy Edwards, assistant Westfield Volunteer Fire Department Chief. "We got our ice team out there and our ice sled. We had guys get their wet suits on, go out and try to capture the dog to get him back in. We just tried and tried and tried for about two hours."

After attempts by the Erie County Sheriff's helicopter to get close enough to the dog to scare it towards the firefighters and others, rescuers decided to call the rescue off for the night around 10:15 p.m.

"We went home and decided to come back today," Edwards said. 'We didn't want to do that (leave Monday night), but we didn't have much choice."

Around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, the rescuers returned to the dog, and, using the helicopter, lowered an individual to the ice using a lift. They were then able to capture the animal, but not before it ran off and rescue personnel had to chase it down. The dog was taken to a local veterinarian's office to be checked out.

"He was basically okay, a couple of minor problems," Edwards said. "The dog is in good shape and the owner is happy."


To everyone involved in the rescue, it couldn't have gone any better. They were able to rescue the dog and reunite someone with his best friend.

"To me, it was very rewarding," Edwards said. "Everybody said it's only a dog, but, to me, it's part of somebody's family. I was very, very happy that today we were able to finish the job off and have a happy ending out of it."

Frost was quick to express his gratitude for the work all the rescuers had done.

"I have so much appreciation for what these guys have done," he said, "all these guys risking their lives going out there on the ice and doing what comes natural to them."

He was also clearly overjoyed at having his dog back.

"It's a huge relief," Frost said. "I've been heartbroken since Thursday. I've had her for eight years since she was a 10 month-old pup. She's my baby. There's nothing better right now in the world for me."

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