WELLS — Now that Paisley’s home, there’s no more dog-gone problem in Wells.

“Oh! Look at her! She is so cute,” said 6-year-old Lily Vollor, catching her first glimpse of the 8-year-old English bulldog, who was missing for more than 10 days in January before turning up wet, cold and tired at a house 2 miles from her home.

On Saturday, Vollor and Vollor and scores of other well-wishers had a special “Welcome Home” party for Paisley.

Her owner, local businesswoman Barbara Dean, said she had to throw the party to thank everyone who helped search for Paisley.

Dean said Paisley bolted from her home after being spooked for hours by a high-pitched chirping fire detector in the garage that Dean couldn’t hear but Paisley clearly could: “She was shaking all night,” Dean said.

The search, fueled by posts on the Wells community’s Facebook page, seemed to draw in hundreds of people sharing information and hopes for her safe return.

Paisley was already a bit of a local celebrity, as the unofficial greeter at Dean’s business, the Cole’s Corner Country Shop on Route 1.

Dean pleaded for her dog’s return, offered a $1,500 reward and spent untold hours driving around and searching for her. Others were scouring the area as well, including Mark Rouleau of York.

“I drove all over, up and down access roads. I have an 11-year-old dog, Mr. Bogey, and I know how I’d feel if anything happened to Mr. Bogey,” Rouleau said.

Barbara Dean and Paisley pose with well-wishers in front of a photo booth at a welcome home party for the 8-year-old bulldog on Saturday in Wells.

As Dean greeted a steady stream of visitors, Paisley lapped up the attention and stayed tight-lipped about where she was during her January romp. A vet said she lost about 10 pounds and scratched her eye, but didn’t have any signs of frostbite and her nails were undamaged and long – so the vet’s theory is that she was “hunkered down” somewhere, according to Dean.

Helene Ahearn of Biddeford also did some detective work as she searched.

“I was driving everywhere I could think of. I went into any turnoff, showed pictures of her,” Ahearn said. “I even followed dog tracks back to people’s houses.”

With each day, it seemed a little less likely Paisley was coming back.

“Then it got so cold and I almost prayed someone did take her in,” Ahearn said.

Given how cold it was and how long she was gone, there was a theory Paisley was taken in by someone – something Dean countered with her “no questions asked” $1,500 reward offer.

And then – almost two weeks later – she just turned up.

Linda Collins said she was looking outside her door to check the weather one night in late January when a shape caught her eye – Paisley!

“She was all curled up on this throw rug we have outside the storm door,” Collins said. “She was soaking wet and just looking at me.”

Her husband, former state Sen. Ron Collins, said his wife was speechless and turned to him sputtering and waving when she realized Paisley was outside their door.

The couple brought her inside – where the “missing dog” flier was still sitting on the counter – gave her a can of dog food and called up Dean, who got the message as she was leaving a movie and rushed right over.

“(Paisley) was exhausted,” said Kerri Millian, a close friend of Dean’s who was with her that day. “She did wiggle a little when she saw us.”

The cake at the welcome home party.

At the party, she showed off her signature bulldog wiggle as she lapped up the attention from visitors. Dean had a hot chocolate station and a treat table packed with paw-print cupcakes, brownies, a sheet cake and other goodies. Paisley’s name was spelled out in 3-foot-high balloon letters over a bench where grinning visitors got their photo taken with the English bulldog.

People were dropping off gift bags for the pampered pooch – she had a “spa day” to get primped up for the party – and were invited to leave with gratitude gift doggy bags, thanking them for helping search, and filled with “Lucky Dog” lottery tickets and chocolates in some, or a wooden disk with Paisley’s photo on it and a “We believe in miracles!” message in others.

“This is so fun!” said Wells resident Bonnie Toone.

“It turned out well. People like that,” said Ron Collins, looking around the room. He has a pet theory about where Paisley may have been all that time. On the back part of their property is an old doghouse he built, with insulation and some hay inside. It might – just might – be where she “hunkered down.”

“A lot of people put in a lot of hours looking for that dog,” Linda Collins said.

 


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