Cindy Ross of Chesterville and her German shepherd, Shyla, are back together after Shyla went missing on May 3, 2018. “With us being so crazy and wanting her back so bad, we went after every lead,” Ross said about she and her partner, John Mason, chasing information that came their way over the past year. “I felt in my heart that she was out there,” Ross said. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

CHESTERVILLE — When her 4-year-old German shepherd went missing May 4, 2018, Cindy Ross was confident they would be reunited, even as the days turned into weeks and months.

“I’m an avid prayer, so I had faith that she would come back,” Ross said Wednesday afternoon. “Other than going out and looking for her from time to time, my hands were tied on what I could do. I just kept faith that we would be reunited.”

Ross’ prayers were answered early Wednesday morning when the dog, Shyla, was trapped in the Route 17 area of Rangeley, more than 50 miles from her home in Chesterville.

Ross said it was the persistence of volunteers with the Maine Lost Dog Recovery group, homeowners in the Rangeley area and concerned community members that aided in Shyla returning home.

On May 4, 2018, Ross’ mother had let Shyla out of Ross’ home at 261 Sanborn Hill R0ad, where her animals have 8 acres to roam and run free.

“Shyla has never run off of our property in all the years we’ve had her,” Ross said. “She’s an anxious dog, though, and it just happened to be hunting season.”

After gunshots went off, Ross said, Shyla bolted into the woods.

For the next several weeks, Ross heard reports that Shyla had been spotted in the Chesterville area, but nobody was able to capture her.

For more than a year, Ross, with the assistance of the Maine Lost Dog Recovery volunteer group, urged community members and homeowners in Maine to report any sightings of Shyla.

The Maine Lost Dog Recovery posted a flyer on its Facebook page and over the next several months, reports of Shyla sightings poured in from towns ranging from Gray to Pittsfield.

Then, on May 26, 387 days after Shyla went missing, homeowners in the area of Rangeley and Oquossoc reported seeing a black-haired German shepherd matching Shyla’s description in their yards.

Kathy Winslow, a retired horse farmer from Millinocket who has been volunteering with the Maine Lost Dog Recovery group since 2013, said she made the 3½-hour trip to the Rangeley area to set up her 60-inch trap in an area that Shyla had been frequenting. She dropped off food with a nearby homeowner who agreed to put out food every day near the trap.

“We set up a trap, put a cellular camera nearby that sends footage from the camera to our cellphones, and put food in the trap,” Winslow said. “A lot of times, dogs are concerned about going into something they can’t get out of easily. If you blow it and go quick and the dog’s not totally in the trap, they won’t go near it again.”

On Tuesday, she felt confident that Shyla was accustomed to the cage and that she could make a move to trap her.

“We were sitting around at midnight on Wednesday, watching live footage of Shyla, waiting for her to go in there,” Winslow said. “After weeks of waiting, she went into the cage and stayed and we were able to rescue her.”

Ross said she knew from the first moment she saw Shyla on the cellular camera footage that it was her dog.

“As soon as we were able to reunite with her, there was a lot of hugging and kissing,” Ross said with a laugh. “I was shocked at how healthy she looked. She goes to the vet tomorrow, but it looked as if she had been eating well and stayed healthy.”

When Shyla returned to her Sanborn Hill Road home Wednesday morning, Ross said her other dog — a beagle — and two cats were happy to reunite with her.

“There were happy reunions all around,” Ross said. “It’s been tiring these last few weeks, but at least there was a happy ending.”

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