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"Tater Tot" Found As Dozens Join Search

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By Jim Fennell For UnionLeader.com

Manchester, New Hamshire – A potentially heartbreaking story ended happily for a Vermont couple yesterday afternoon when they were reunited with one of their dogs.

Tater Tot, a 6-year-old yellow lab, was found alongside the northbound side of Interstate 93, not far from where she had bolted after the car she was riding in rolled over Thursday evening.

Judy and Bob Sylvia, a Manchester couple who decided to help look for the dog after reading the story of Tater Tot’s disappearance, spotted the dog curled up near a fence by Exit 9, about a mile north of where the accident occurred.

“I don’t think you could ask for much more,” Tater Tot’s owner, Trish Dale of Warren, Vt., said of the reunion.

On Thursday, Dale suffered a concussion and a broken nose when she fell asleep and lost control of the Audi she was driving home from a medical appointment in Massachusetts, she said. Two of her four dogs, Tater Tot and Buddy, were in the back seat, and both ran from the car after the accident.

Buddy was found quickly, but Tater Tot darted across the highway and out of sight.

Dale’s husband, John Dale, put out word through the local media that he was going to search for the dog yesterday and would welcome any help. He said about 100 people, including Cassandra Gatsas, wife of the city’s mayor, showed up about noon to help look for the dog.

John Dale said Gatsas, who is on the board of directors of the Manchester Animal Shelter, had sent out e-mails to people and had posted messages of Facebook.

“I thought how wonderful this is,” John Dale said. “Where in the world could something like this happen?”

The Sylvias, who own three yellow labs, said they decided to drive around the area to look for the dog after reading the story in yesterday’s New Hampshire Union Leader. Bob Sylvia works for Precision Towing and Recovery and said he had been to enough accident scenes involving animals to feel confident that the dog would still be close to where the accident happened.

The Sylvias met up with John Dale near Stevens Park and told him they were sure Tater Tot hadn’t roamed that far. That’s when they set off for the highway, entering the northbound side at Exit 8 and slowly driving along the road until they saw the dog. Bob Sylvia said Tater Tot took off into the woods when they pulled over, but he was able to track her path.

Sylvia said he called John Dale’s cell phone to tell him the news. John Dale arrived with Buddy, who accompanied Bob Sylvia into the woods to look for Tater Tot. The dogs, born about a year apart, are from the same parents and both compete in AKC obedience shows.

Sylvia said Tater Tot responded immediately to Buddy’s cries and barks, bounding over a hill for a happy reunion.

“The two of them were so excited to see each other,” John Dale said.

Tater Tot was taken to the Veterinary Emergency Center of Manchester on Karl Drive. Trish Dale said the dog had a puncture wound on her left hind leg and was limping on one of her front legs.


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Erlene Rollins
Erlene Rollins
10 years ago

So glad the dog was found alive. We had a same type accident happen here in Wi. on I 90-94 Near the Wi Dells and the people were out in droves looking and did find him but wasn't alive. I don;t know for sure but I think might have been hit by a car after the fact. Anyway the outcome wasn't a good one. That is why I am so happy that this turned out so good.

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