SKOWHEGAN — When Kerstie Bush of Bangor found her lost dog at the Somerset Humane Society shelter in Skowhegan last week, she cried.

Running Bear, her 4-year-old Australian shepherd, which had been missing for more than a month, did the same thing.

“He jumped up and down like a spring and he started talking to me, telling me the whole story of what happened,” said Bush, 19. “When I saw him, I couldn’t hold back my emotions, and I just started crying and crying. He cried with me. He was so happy.”

Christine Coolidge, who was on duty at the shelter in Skowhegan when Running Bear was brought in as a stray, agreed.

“She brought her grandfather in to look at another dog, and when I brought them out to the dog room, she looked and she said ‘Bear?’ and the dog cried. Have you ever seen a dog cry?” Coolidge said. “He was whining and wagging his tail. It wasn’t a regular dog barking. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not a bark; it’s just a constant whine.”

The story of how Bear got from Bangor to Skowhegan started when the dog went to visit Bush’s husband’s grandmother in Hartland in August. Bear ran off and didn’t come back.


Bush, who is studying at the University of Maine at Augusta to become a veterinary technician, said Bear is a therapy dog for her husband. Losing the dog was twice the heartache, she said.

“After a few weeks I went with my papa – his dog had just passed away – to the animal shelter to get him a new dog,” she said.

Bush said she first tried to find a dog for her grandfather at the Bangor Humane Society shelter, but it didn’t have any dogs that he wanted. The Somerset shelter’s Facebook page showed a photograph of a dog that resembled the dog the grandfather wanted, so they drove to Skowhegan, she said.

Meanwhile, Coolidge said, the county animal control officer brought in an Australian shepherd on Sept. 18, having found the 40-pound dog as a stray in the town of Corinna. Coolidge said they looked through the shelter stray dog reports and found that someone from Bangor – Bush, as it turned out – had reported her dog missing.

That’s where the confusion – and ultimately, the serendipity – comes in.

Shelter workers called Bush and left a message saying they had a stray that matched the description of her missing dog. Bush misunderstood and thought the call was from the Bangor shelter and never bothered to call back.


The next day, Sept. 19, Bush and her grandfather showed up at the Skowhegan shelter to inquire about a dog named Azalea, a pit bull mix – the one they had seen on Facebook – that most closely matched her grandfather’s former dog.

“They came in, and we have a white board with the dogs that we have here and their descriptions,” Coolidge said. “She looked up at the board and said, ‘I lost a dog like that,’ ” she said. “The same girl we called about the stray came in to look at Azalea.”

Bush looked at Bear and said, “That’s my dog,” Coolidge said.

And it was.

Bush said she was not charged a fee, but she said she wants to make it right with the shelter that reunited her with her lost Running Bear.

“I am going to be donating some stuff to the animal shelter since they helped my dog,” she said.

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