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After wife’s highway death, a search for dogs


For five straight days, Greg Wong returned to the lonely stretch of highway on Wyoming’s prairie where his wife was killed, searching not for closure but for Sammie and Maddie, the two small dogs traveling with her.

Hours after state police on May 30 called his home in Laramie, notifying him that his wife, Susan, had been killed  on Highway 487, Wong made the first two-hour trip, arriving at 2 a.m., just as a tow truck pulled the SUV his wife had been driving from a deep ravine.

Police told Wong that his wife apparently lost control of the vehicle. It rolled over three times and landed in the ravine. Police told him no dogs were found inside the vehicle, or in the area.

Wong told the Casper Star-Tribune that as soon as he got the news, it was as if he heard his wife’s voice in his head, saying “find the dogs.”

“I guess a lot of it didn’t soak in,” he said. “…You get to that point where you almost turn into a zombie. You are afraid to start thinking about it too much because emotionally you can’t handle it. I kept focusing on ‘you have to find those dogs.’ In a way, I was thinking my last connection to my wife was those dogs.”

The first night he drove up and down the highway, shining a portable spotlight. Then he got out and walked, calling for the Yorkie and the Cairn terrier, neither of which he expected would stand much chance against coyotes, rattlesnakes or other predators in the area.

The second day, Wong was back at the crash site, 40 miles south of Casper, with a friend and some of the dogs’ toys. Again he walked up and down the highway, calling their names and squeaking their toys.

On the third day, he met up with the owners of Cold Nose Investigators, whose canines search for cadavers, missing people and lost pets. A shelter worker had suggested the company to Wong.

Cathy and Curt Orde brought their golden retriver, Zoe, an adopted Hurricane Katrina refuge they’d trained to track scents. After getting a whiff of the terriers’ bed, she immediately picked up a their trail near the crash site.

After following the dog for more than two miles, they came across signs of the terriers — tiny tracks and excrement. But it was getting dark, so they decided to set up a kennel and leave food and bedding inside. Just as they were getting ready to leave, Maddie, the Cairn terrier came out of the bushes. Except for scraped and irritated paws, she seemed to be fine.

Wong took Maddie home, and the next day got a report that Sammie had been spotted. He drove to the site again and met up with the pet detectives and Zoe, who led them to a drainage pipe.

Sammie was in it, but wouldn’t come out. They set up a trap, baited with food and left. Sammie, sometime that night, went in, and the next day Wong drove north again to reclaim the Yorkie.

Finding the dogs, Wong told the Star-Tribune, brought him some comfort and allowed him to maintain a connection with his wife; and searching for them, he suspects, gave him something to focus on other than his devastating loss.

“It made my wife’s death a little easier to take,” he said. “I didn’t have to bear it all at once. I had a mission.”

(Photo: Sammie and Maddie, with Zoe, the Golden Retriever who helped find them; courtesy of Cold Nose Investigators)


Comment from feefifoto
Time June 8, 2009 at 9:24 am

Oh! What a touching story.

Comment from bluhawkk
Time June 8, 2009 at 1:06 pm

In a world swirling with tragic outcomes, this is the best.

Thanks Greg Wong for your persistence.

Comment from theresa
Time June 8, 2009 at 3:40 pm

I’m glad you got back your fur kids. I am very sorry for the lose of your wife. you are in my prayers