My colleague and friend Nick Carroll still can’t write about this, but when I think of Thanksgiving, I know it came in late May this year.
We sent Nick down to Charleston May 17 to cover the state track meet Friday night and Saturday.
A year earlier Nick had covered the same meet for the Mineral News-Tribune when he worked for that paper and he did something he always did.
He took Nittany along with him.
Nittany is Nick’s beautiful 10-year-old companion, but like many Weimaraner dogs, she suffers from separation anxiety.
So Nittany accompanies Nick about everywhere, as anyone who knows Nick knows, including work.
Nittany is in the Review office 2 or 3 times a day. In between she lounges in the back of Nick’s car, with a water bowl on the floor, a comfy blanket to lay on, heat or air on as warranted and a podcast playing to keep her company as she keeps a watchful eye on her world.
But the 2018 trip to Charleston for state track wasn’t a great experience for Nittany. Parking was a hassle and there was more concrete than a dog needed to deal with.
So this year, Nick boarded her with a dog-sitter in Pennsylvania that he regarded well because his girlfriend up there used it for her Weimaraner.
On Friday, Nick dropped Nittany off, drove to Charleston and began his coverage.
Around 8 o’clock we talked. Nittany had escaped the dog-sitter. He was distraught. I ached in compassion.
About 12 hours later, I called Nick to say if he needed to skip Saturday’s coverage in Charleston, go ahead. I never had to.
Nick arranged with a friend of ours to get the pictures we wanted and headed north before midnight Friday night. When I called he was in some woods or fields in southern Pennsylvania hunting his beloved companion.
He hunted all day Saturday. And he printed posters. And he got the word out on Facebook. It turns out that there’s a Facebook group for about everything — including lost dogs in the Shanksville, Pa., region and lost Weimaraners nationwide.
There was a Nittany sighting on Saturday afternoon near a high school about 12 or 13 miles from where she was boarded.
Nick shifted the location of some of his posters and kept searching all weekend.
He showed up at the office Monday morning. His head was barely in the game; his heart was miles away.
The break came late Monday afternoon. Somebody thought they saw her and sent a text message to Nick with a picture of a wandering Weimaraner walking down the side of the road in Bedford, Pa. It was Nittany and Nick was out the door and headed north.
Three hours later, we got the news. Nittany was back where she belonged, in Nick’s arms.
When he made it to where she had last been seen, he took off 1 direction and his girlfriend, Alicia, took off the other. When he spotted her loping along in a cow pasture, Nick climbed through an electric fence to go to her — and then climbed back through and held it open for Nittany to get to the car.
Our favorite newshound was worn out for some days, but then she had traveled about 45 miles in 72 hours — always headed south — before she was reunited with her best friend.
Like you all can imagine, I’m tearing up writing this. Nick still can’t talk about it easily and Nittany — well Nittany comes in the office 2 or 3 times a day and looks at me like she always has, which is to say like she expects her allotment of dog treats from the stash on my desk and her butt rub.
She just knows she’s where she’s supposed to be and now we all know she’ll do what she has to to be there.
And we’re all thankful.