NARROWSBURG -- Sam, a black Labrador Retriever/Pitbull mix, is one and a half years old. That's roughly 10.5 in dog years. He runs in a goofy way, has squinty eyes, an arched back and long skinny …
NARROWSBURG -- Sam, a black Labrador Retriever/Pitbull mix, is one and a half years old. That's roughly 10.5 in dog years. He runs in a goofy way, has squinty eyes, an arched back and long skinny legs that parents Ryan and Marie Vaz say are growing before the rest of his body. The 85-pound pup is incredibly fast, usually accompanying Ryan on 10-mile runs.
On February 8, while getting him ready for a trip from his house in Narrowsburg to the Liberty Pet Ranch where he goes twice a week, something piqued his interest. Before Marie could blink Sam ran off, and has been missing ever since.
It has been difficult to search for him in the latest string of winter weather, with limited sightings.
A woman contacted the Vaz family after seeing a dog that looked like Sam running behind her car on February 10 in the Bethel/Swan Lake area near Hurd Road, before he took off.
Marie says on their trips to Liberty, Sam always looked out the window and watched the road. She believes he learned the route, which is why he might have ended up heading towards the Town of Liberty.
Sam loves the woods and does not like snow plows, so he likely won't be spending much time traveling along main roads.
Laura Turley, the owner of Dogstar BK, who trained Sam as a puppy, came up from the city to help aid the Vazs in the search. She says when people normally see a dog they are unfamiliar with, they try and chase it.
Do not do that, she says.
Turley recommended staying still or crouching to their position. The most important thing, even if you can't keep the pup in place until its owners arrive, is to snap a photo of them. While leery of strangers, Sam is likely to be very hungry, and throwing him a bite to eat might keep him in place long enough to do either.
People can also leave food out to see if it will attract Sam to it. If you are wary of doing this because it may attract raccoons or other animals, you could also cook some food on the grill or crack a window in the house while cooking.
In addition to Turley, members of the local community who've heard about Sam have also helped spread the word and offered advice if they've had similar experiences. Marie adds that the dog control officers in the Towns of Bethel, Cochecton and Tusten have been great. Also assisting in the effort are the Hound Hunters of NEPA, Inc., Liberty Pet Ranch Owners Matt and Tina Johnstone, as well as all the other “rancher” parents who've driven around helping look for Sam.
Ryan and Marie have only lived in Sullivan County for about a year, and in the midst of a pandemic, haven't had the opportunity to get to know a lot of people. But that's quickly changing.
“It's great to see there's this existing network of people who care about dogs,” said Marie, “that want them to be home, healthy and happy. They do whatever they can to make sure the dog is reunited with its parents, and that is really amazing.”
The most recent possible sighting of Sam was this past Saturday. The same woman who spotted him in Bethel left food on her porch overnight. When she woke up it was gone and the tracks in the snow looked like Sam's.
If you spot Sam, contact Ryan and Marie at 678-662-5448.