Dry socks a sad reminder of missing pet for former SV resident

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Nicole Calabrese’s socks are too dry.

Where the trails of water from Maude’s dish should be, there’s only dry floor, and Nicole misses her baggy-lipped boxer and the soggy socks that happen after Maude’s had a good slorp, slorp, slorp, dribble. There’s the missing click, click, click of doggy toenails. And those soulful eyes staring up at her in expectant, unconditional willingness.

Maude has been missing for over two weeks now. Her pet dog disappeared from Olmsted County’s Root River Park on the morning of Dec. 28 while Rochester resident Calabrese, a 2005 graduate of Kingsland High School and daughter of Anthony and Sharanne Calabrese of Spring Valley, was going on a usual run around a loop at the park, a place with which Maude is familiar. She noted that her pup is occasionally prone to “chasing squirrels and bunnies,” but that she’s very devoted to her human, so to find that she’d simply disappeared was surprising.

“I’ve had her since she was a puppy, and she’ll be 4 years next month. She’s just full of joy, energy, very in tune with the mood in the room…it’s a partnership,” Calabrese said. “She relies on me for everything, and I rely on her for laughs, consoling, snuggles. We were on a two-mile loop of the Root River Valley. We were actually out walking, and she likes to stay within sight of me, and I like to stay within sight of her, but after about a minute, I turned around and she was gone.”

Maude, unfortunately, left her identification at home that morning. She’s doesn’t have an identification chip and her tags had just fallen off that morning. She’s wearing just a Vikings collar.

“I’m definitely concerned about her short hair as temperatures get cold. I understand that dogs are resourceful and go into survival mode, and I think she would eat odd things if she were desperate,” Calabrese said. “She’s very friendly, but she can be timid when meeting new people – she does not do the ‘alpha’ dog.”

Calabrese spent the next four to five hours at Root River Park searching for her canine, ultimately having to go home without her. The former Spring Valley resident now works and lives in Rochester.

“Eating and sleeping are not going well,” she said. “The last two weeks, at night, I set an alarm so that every couple of hours, I check my phone in case I miss an update on the Finding Maude Facebook page.”

The Facebook page Calabrese created now has approximately 1,300 members and has served as a forum for people who have been assisting since Maude’s vanishing.

“I’ve been getting a lot of really good ideas from people in the group, and there was a lead that came across Spring Valley from someone who thought they’d seen her from his truck at the curve between Lime Springs and Chester, and I got a phone call within five minutes,” she said. “There were one or two people from Spring Valley out there…we spent about three days out searching, had a camera set up to see if we could catch her. A lot of people from Spring Valley, Chester and Lime Springs were out looking, and the Lime Springs and Chester Sportsmen’s Club opened their club for us to use as a warming place and for us to gather and re-strategize.”

There’s currently no sign of Maude, but there are neon green signs that Calabrese and the hundreds of volunteers who are helping look for the wayward doggy posted along roads, streets and at intersections. Furthermore, Calabrese has enlisted the expertise of The Retrievers, a dog recovery group that has provided a case manager who has experience tracking lost dogs and who offers support and advice to volunteers.

“It’s the number of people who have helped, who have offered to help, people I don’t even know. Camp Companion and The Retrievers have helped. My case manager from The Retrievers has ideas and strategies, and between them and Camp Companion, we’ve sent out about 4,000 mailers to Chatfield, southeast Rochester, Racine, Lime Springs and Chester,” she said. “People in Spring Valley have been so helpful. Whoever has contacts has been calling people and contacted them on my behalf. My dad has put up posters all over Spring Valley – in the businesses, grocery store, the restaurants, the banks. I graduated from Kingsland High School in 2005, so I haven’t lived in Spring Valley for quite a while, but the number of people who’ve offered to help and shared on the Facebook page is incredible.”

Calabrese listed some of the advice that she’s gained from dog recovery experts such as The Retrievers if someone has a sighting: Sit down on the ground and don’t make eye contact or call for them. She recently read that people might try crying quietly, too, and carrying treats is helpful.

She encourages people to join the Finding Maude Facebook page, or if they see her, to call her at 507-696-0942.

For now, Calabrese waits, waking up every few hours to check her phone for messages because the nighttime is short the whuffle, whuffle, whuffle of her dog’s breathing, the floors are too quiet, and her socks stay too dry.

“She’s my girl,” she concluded.