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JAY EDWARDS

One of the better stories I heard recently was about a woman named Monica, whose dog Hazel disappeared three years ago from her home in Iowa. One day recently, Monica was checking out different stories on social media when she came across one that told of a brewery in Bradenton, Florida, that, in trying to help the local animal shelter, agreed to put pictures of some of the dogs that are available for adoption on their beer cans.

As Monica looked at the cans and the different faces of homeless dogs, she stopped suddenly and said out loud, “Oh my gosh, that’s Hazel!”

“She was always getting out,” Monica told CNN. She said the day they lost Hazel (now known as Day Day in the Manatee County Animal Shelter), the 60-pound dog knocked her over to get out the door and kept on going. Two years later she had made it to Bradenton, 1,700 miles away.

Hazel will be reunited with Monica, who now lives in Minnesota, so don’t be surprised if Hazel makes another break for the Sunshine State one day soon.

Speaking of Iowa, Hazel’s story might remind you of the days when the faces of missing children used to show up on milk cartons. In 1984, a dairy in Des Moines, Iowa, began printing the photos of two missing boys, ages 12 and 13, who had gone missing while delivering papers for The Des Moines Register. A year later, 700 dairies across the country had adopted the practice. While many of the missing kids were never found, including the Des Moines paperboys, there were some happy endings. Like the case of 7-year-old Bonnie Lohman, whose mother and stepfather had taken her away from her father when she was 3.

Since she was not taken by a stranger, it was not a typical abduction case, but her father somehow managed to get her photo on the milk cartons. Bonnie lived in Spain as well as Hawaii with her mother and stepdad and was rarely allowed outdoors. One day, she was visiting the grocery store with her stepdad and she saw a milk carton with her photo on it. As she did not know how to read, she couldn’t read that above her photo was written “MISSING CHILD.” Her stepfather bought the milk carton, cut out Bonnie’s image and let her save it, telling her to keep it a secret.

But one day Bonnie accidentally left it at her neighbor’s house along with her bag of toys. The neighbors called the police upon discovering the photo, and Bonnie was reunited with her father. In the late 1980s, pediatrician Benjamin Spock issued a warning that the cartons terrified small children at the breakfast table with the implication that they, too, could be abducted. The practice began to fade and became obsolete when the Amber Alert system was created in 1996.

I might have benefited from a beer-can program for missing dogs, as our last dog, Gus, tended to light out from time to time. A better name for him might have been Luke. And I have no doubt he could have eaten 50 eggs. But Gus never showed up on any beer cans, craft or traditional. He did take a serious liking to what floated inside the cans, however.

On one of those great escapes he made, he didn’t quite make it as far as Hazel, but he did get a couple of miles and was adopted by a family who lived in a big, beautiful house. They had renamed him Busbee, and when I showed up one rainy day to claim him, no one, including Gus, aka Busbee, aka Cool Hand, seemed very glad to see me.

Jay Edwards is a freelance columnist who

can be reached at chips7591@gmail.com.

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