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After surviving more than 11 days outside in the bitter cold, including a spell in which temperatures plummeted well below zero, a dog lost during the Duluth blizzard on Christmas Eve was found alive Monday morning.
Ham, a year-old bulldog belonging to Kevin and Meegan Holubar, was found whimpering on the front steps of Cheryl Lowneyâ€™s home on Jean Duluth Road about 6:30 a.m. Monday.
â€œI kept hearing these strange little noises but I couldnâ€™t figure out where they were coming from,â€ she said. â€œFinally, I opened the front door and there was this big face plastered on the windowâ€¦
I thought, â€˜Oh my gosh, this must be the little Ham dog.â€™ â€
After checking the dogâ€™s tags, Lowney discovered it was in fact Ham, but 30 pounds lighter than his regular 80-pound frame and dusted with patches of frostbite inside of his right hind leg and on part of his face. Despite the early hour, Lowney, also a dog-owner, called the Holubars right away.
â€œI woke up to phone call with someone saying they thought they had my dogâ€¦ obviously that kind of jolts you right out of bed,â€ Kevin said. â€œ
All things considered, for being out in the cold and in the elements for 11.5 days, itâ€™s pretty much a miracle.â€
The Twin Cities couple lost the dog, who was the ring bearer in their wedding this summer, while visiting family in Duluth for the holidays. Kevin Holubar took Ham out, on a leash, for a bathroom break Christmas Eve and lost the dog in the snowstorm. When he tried to run after Ham, Holubar was hit by a car and twisted his ankle and bruised his leg. Despite his injuries, Kevin, Meegan and their family and friends kept up the search. They spent all weekend looking for the dog and were out again this past weekend.
They received a glimmer of hope Saturday when they got a call from someone who said he spotted the dog while snowmobiling, but the Holubars still werenâ€™t able to track him down.
â€œWe never gave up hope,â€ Kevin said, â€œbut we obviously got a little worried when the temperatures got so cold.â€
The couple drove up to Duluth Monday to retrieve Ham, who they said still seems very tired and cold but is starting to show signs of his personality again.
â€œHeâ€™s a big kisser and when we first got to him, we bent down and he came over and licked our faces a little bit,â€ Kevin said. â€œThen he went back and sat by the heat register.â€
A trip to the vet Monday reaffirmed what the Holubars were hoping: That with some antibiotics and a special diet to help him gain back the lost weight, Ham will be fine.
â€œWe are just so happy to have our family back together again,â€ Kevin said. â€œHe is not leaving anyoneâ€™s eyesight for a long time.â€
The couple said they owe a lot of credit to Lowney, who turned down a $500 reward offered for Ham. Lowney said it didnâ€™t feel right accepting the money.
â€œThe reward was the good feeling I got,â€ she said. â€œWhen I called them with the news, said â€˜You made our New Year,â€™ and I said, â€˜You know what, I think you made mine.â€™ You donâ€™t know how happy I was to see them that happy; it was the best feeling.â€