CALUMET TOWNSHIP | Kandi Sickles believed she had lost all but one of her champion show dogs in the fire Monday that destroyed her Elm Street home, but a phone call Tuesday gave her hope in the midst of her grief.
Larry, a 2-year-old Chinese Crested powder puff, was found wandering near the Family Video store at 1208 E. 45th Ave. by a woman who happens to be an employee of PetSmart in Schererville, said Vee Gallagher, Sickles’ mother.
“He apparently went through the woods to 45th. She stopped her car when she saw him and he was so scared he came right to her,” Gallagher said Wednesday.
The woman took Larry to the PetSmart store, where employees of Banfield Pet Hospital inside PetSmart scanned the dog’s microchip and discovered he belongs to Sickles.
A phone call sent the 42-year-old woman racing to the store to be reunited with Larry.
A firefighter who fought the blaze Monday night told Gallagher later that three dogs ran out of the house when first responders broke down the front door.
Woody, a 1-year-old Chinese Crested hairless variety, and Paige, a 1-year-old Shetland sheepdog, also escaped the fire with Larry, but are still missing.
The two dogs have been spotted near the house, but won’t approach the humans looking for them, Gallagher said.
“We can see their footprints, where they may have stopped to drink and where we think they slept last night,” Sickles said Wednesday.
Sickles and Gallagher have set up live traps usually used to catch wildlife such as raccoons and squirrels. They baited the traps with Kentucky Fried Chicken and hot dogs to attract the two dogs and placed blankets inside.
“We’re praying and praying that we find them before the cold weather sets in,” Sickles said by phone Wednesday afternoon. “Woody weighs only 9 pounds and he’s hairless. My other baby at least has fur. Maybe if they’re together, they’ll cuddle.”
Zoey, the Chinese Crested puppy that firefighters rescued Monday, developed a cough from smoke inhalation, but was given a clean bill of health by her veterinarian during a visit Wednesday, Sickles said.
There were 10 dogs in the home, including some canines Sickles was fostering from rescue organizations. She lost all of her possessions in the fire.
“Thank God that Kandi wasn’t at home when the fire broke out. She’d have been in the back of the house trying to rescue the dogs,” Gallagher said.