Louisiana dog found in New York two years after owner thought she was dead

Published: May. 14, 2012 at 8:11 PM CDT|Updated: May. 28, 2012 at 4:22 PM CDT
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Two years and thousands of miles separated a Baton Rouge man from his dog. He thought his little friend was dead, but on Monday, May 14, they were reunited at a family member's home in River Ridge.

Ben Gautreaux stooped as an unfamiliar truck pulled into the driveway of his great-aunt's home. His wife Stephanie and his cousins looked on as the door opened and a two-foot-tall blue Great Dane emerged.

He called "Bluebelle, Bluebelle" and the large dog leaped and tugged at her leash. "Let her go!," he yelled. The massive dog ran into the open arms of the man who raised her for the first four years of her life.

Gautreaux never expected to see Bluebelle again. "I thought that she was put to sleep," he said.

Bluebelle and his other two Great Danes had a knack for getting out of his fenced-in yard in Baton Rouge. "They picked them up a couple of times and they said that if they picked them up again then they would be a threat to society," he said.

After a neighborhood adventure two years ago, things looked bad for the now six-year-old dog. She had an additional mark on her record after protecting her puppies from a neighbor's Rottweiler that had gnawed through the Gautreaux's fence.

"They said either they were going to put all of them to sleep or they were going to put her to sleep," he said. Gautreaux had no choice but to accept the judgement and thought his canine friend was gone, until he got a call from Buffalo, New York two weeks ago.

"I said well my dog is dead and they said no, we have your dog here," Gautreaux said. They identified Bluebelle with a microchip Gautreaux had put in after the first time he found her and her cohorts 17 miles away from home.

Instead of being put down, she somehow ended up with another family that moved to New York. That family moved to an apartment where they couldn't keep her and she ended up at a shelter there.

For a while she was called Lucy, but Bluebelle found her real name before even coming home. The Buffalo SPCA director fostered her for six weeks. "Margaret took her home first and she looked at her and she said no you're a southern belle, I'm going to call you Bluebelle," said Chris Silverstein.

That was before they found the microchip with her name embedded.

"What are the chances of two people naming her the same thing?" wondered Silverstein.

Chris Silverstein became Bluebelle's truck driver.  "I heard our local SPCA doing a radio show regarding a lost dog from New Orleans found here in Buffalo and they were trying to find a way to get her home," Silverstein said.

He lived in New Orleans for a while and owns a New Orleans style restaurant in Buffalo. "Jumped on the phone, called up, volunteered because I was coming down anyway. She's a wonderful dog," he said.

Bluebelle was doing okay up north. "She was pretty happy there, but she needs to be home with her family and this is a perfect ending for it," Silverstein said.  "She knew she was in the south right away. Her entire attitude changed. She was a lot more animated and quite a bit happier I would say."

She's definitely at home. "I wanted her to run to him, just a nice warm greeting like that. It was perfect, as much as I could ask for," said Silverstein.

Bluebelle's microchip is the only reason the Gautreaux's learned of her whereabouts. After getting involved in her story, Silverstein says he will be getting his dog chipped as soon as he gets home.