Stolen dog’s return brings happy end to hard times

Published: December 11, 2005 | 2976th good news item since 2003

The past year has been such a trying one for the Gilliland family of Englewood, they were due for a good shaggy dog story.

They got it Saturday when they were reunited with their two- month-missing pooch, Summit, who wound up in Mexico.

The saga began on Thanksgiving of last year when Scott and Christye Gilliland’s son, Garrett, 2, was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor and given a 5 percent chance of survival. His parents took him on monthly trips to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., for care.

This past October when Christye took Garrett to Albuquerque to see the annual International Balloon Fiesta, someone swiped their English sheepdog from her brother-in-law’s backyard.

The theft of the family pet devastated Christye Gilliland, because Summit was a Christmas gift from her husband after her previous sheepdog, Rags, died six weeks after Garrett was born.

“They took him without having a clue of what he meant to us,” Christye said.

Devastated, Christye began searching. Neighbors across the street from where the dog was taken reported seeing a man remove the dog by force.

Everybody told Christye her chances of finding Summit were slim to none.

But that didn’t stop her from trying.

She contacted newspapers and television stations throughout the Southwest.

After returning to Englewood, she spent hours on the Internet, posting photos and contact information and searching hundreds of animal shelters and dog rescue organization websites.

“The dog meant a ton to us,” Christye said. “I wasn’t going to give up.”

Two months went by and still no word, until Thursday morning when a man who works at the Univision television station in Albuquerque called to say the dog had been found.

Apparently, someone had called the station to tell them that he knew a family who lived in Juarez, Mexico, who had the dog and wanted to return it to the little boy.

“I had lost so much faith in humanity,” Scott Gilliland said. “We just went nuts.”

The Gillilands returned to New Mexico on Friday to pick up their dog and returned home Saturday night. The dog was in great condition except for its fur being a little matted.

In Juarez, the woman who had bought the animal from a man had named the big, hairy dog Bubbles.

Christye said the woman had heard news reports about the missing dog and Garrett. “I’m doing this for the little boy,” the woman said.

The relieved parents, touched by the woman’s sincerity, bought her a sheepdog that is to be delivered today to her home in Mexico.

And Summit’s recovery wasn’t the only good news for the Gillilands. After undergoing a 12-hour surgery and two weeks in the hospital, Garrett’s tumor was gone and has showed no regrowth.

“It’s been miracle after miracle,” Christye said.

Published in Animals, Miracles
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