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Deaf dog found a week after escaping hospital

lunaLuna, a deaf but resourceful bulldog mix who escaped from a veterinary hospital in New York and was missing for more than a week, has been returned to her owners.

A surveillance tape at Shaker Veterinary in Latham showed Luna pushed open her crate door on Jan 2. She went through several more doors and then managed to open the main door of the hospital by pulling down a handicapped handle and pushing it open.

After the dog, who had been at the hospital for a couple of days, was reported missing, her owners, Ralph Rataul and his wife, Shelley, put up an $800 reward, which included their money, a contribution from Shaker Veterinary Hospital and donations from friends.

A story on her escape appeared in the Albany Times Union, and concerned citizens in the area are believed to have left food out for the dog after hearing about her — Dee Dee’s Tavern, for one, which put out some prime rib. Over the weekend, 200 volunteers searched  for Luna, and family members and friends spent hours driving around  on lunch hours and after work looking for her, the newspaper said.

On Monday, a couple found Luna in their backyard in Loudonville — more than a week after her disappearance — a couple of miles from the veterinary hospital.

Recognizing her from a story in Sunday’s Times Union, the couple tried to lure Luna inside, but she resisted. They called the veterinary hospital and the hospital staff called Rataul, who came and picked her up.

“I’m overjoyed,” Rataul said Monday. “This is unreal. She’s home, she’s safe.”

The couple, who adopted the dog three years ago, had feared the worst, due to the dog’s handicap.

“She’s not an outdoors dog, not a hunting dog, but some instinctual stuff must have kicked in”  said Ken Wolfe, assistant director of the hospital. “Whatever she was doing, she was doing it right.” Luna lost 12 pounds but  was in good shape, the vet said.

The couple who found Luna in their backyard, meanwhile, turned down the reward money, asking that it go to charity. Rataul said half of the reward will be donated to the ASPCA and the other half to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

(Photo: Luna and owner Ralph Rataul. By Skip Dickstein/Albany Times Union)


Comment from bluhawkk
Time January 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

Luna – what a smartie!

Great story all around. Community placing food for her, volunteers hunting for her and once located the reward being refused in favor of charities.

Question: why did Luna feel the urgency to escape?

Good question, Bluehawkk, and I don’t know the answer. If it weren’t for her deafness, I’d theorize, fireworks, given it was on Jan. 2.

Comment from bluhawkk
Time January 13, 2010 at 10:42 am

Video of Luna

Comment from bluhawkk
Time January 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Added question: after being loose and on her own for many days, was it just an intense fear that caused Luna not to instantly recognize her human?

Comment from Phyllis Taiano
Time January 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Atta Girl Luna!!
we all know that door was opened for you. Your a good girl Luna – God Bless You and rest up!! oxoxoox

Comment from irma
Time January 14, 2010 at 10:27 pm

When i read this hystory,i felt very happy for Luna, and their owners,because i can understand their worries,I have a Dalmatian with the same condition like Luna.

Comment from John gordon
Time January 15, 2010 at 5:22 am

Luna your are home Baby as an owner of a deaf English Setter for 17 years when we had to put her down I know how special Deaf Dog’s are they are like glue or velcro to you and they are so very special !!!!

Comment from John gordon
Time January 15, 2010 at 5:33 am

You can not imagine how Special a Deaf dog is ! Our 75 lb English Setter ( Lady) was extremly special to us for 17Yr’s we Called her Velcro as where ever we went she was right next to us ! She was a very special part of our Family! We have since Rescued another English Setter that was abused and dumped and as much as we Love Tia nothing could ever replace Our Lady !!!!!!!!!!!

Comment from Phyllis Horne
Time January 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

I, have a deaf dog that looks a lot like Luna. Pearl is a white boxer. This story really touched my heart. So happy Luna is home and safe.