NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — Kola, a Lab-Shepherd mix, is deaf, has cataracts, arthritis, and no sense of direction.
He’d never wandered away from his home in New Castle in all his 15 years until last Thursday night. The temperature was just 18 degrees.
“You just keep looking out the window thinking, he’s gonna come back,” says Joe Henry, who raised Kola from a pup.
Henry, his wife Tommilynn and their daughter Elianna didn’t sleep much over the weekend as they combed the woods and made calls.
Four miles away on Friday morning, Jill Jones was on her way to the gym when she spotted Kola lying on a ramp near the Wal-Mart in Union Township.
Calling to the dog, she got no response.
“It looked to me like maybe a small deer. He was covered; his back was covered with the snow,” said Jones. “So I got up to him and just prayed he wasn’t going to bite me.”
Trying to pick him up, she found he was frozen to the ground.
“Like his hair was kind of actually starting to stick, like icy, to the ground,” said Jones.
Prying him up, she placed him next to her in the passenger seat.
“As soon as I got him in the car he kind of looked at me, and kind of gave me that face of “Oh, thank you!” Jones says laughing.
“We tried to test his ability to stand, testing his neurologic function,” says veterinarian Dr. Melanie Sunmey. “When I did that, he collapsed.”
Jones delivered Kola to her veterinarian at the Animal Medical and Surgical Center in New Wilmington.
After some chow, medicine and a warm bunk, Dama Fraley put out an “all-points bulletin” for the dog on Facebook.
“We got over 350 responses,” she said.
One of them led to an emotional reunion on Monday.
Dr. Sumney says that Kola “started barking, and kinda bouncing on his front legs, wagging – happy.”
“You hear so many bad stories, and you think the world’s a crazy place,” says Henry. “It’s refreshing to know there’s so many good people in the world.”
As for Kola, he can scratch another item off his bucket list.