Search, rescue of Regina and Benny Jensen’s German shepherd Puppy involved many generous individuals

By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer

Regina and Benny Jensen adopted a 4 1/2-year-old German Shepherd named Puppy. Puppy’s owner was forced to give him up because he had lost his home in Santa Barbara and had to relocate.

“I had been aware of this dog for a couple of years,” said Jensen. “As a trauma therapist, I had observed the dog who had a barking problem. So, when Puppy’s owner had to give her up, I volunteered to take her. She was put into my car by her owner and I suspect that she ran away in an effort to find him.”

Jensen said she could understand why Puppy took off.

When the recently rehomed German shepherd Puppy ran away, there was no current picture of the dog for the “missing” poster, so a picture of a lookalike dog was used instead and posters were hung not only locally, but in neighboring towns as well. Contributed Photo

“When we first got her, she was shaking with fear at being given away by her owner and didn’t understand what was happening. She had not yet had the time to bond with us or to realize that this was to be her new forever home, as we had only had her for little more than a day,” explained Jensen. “Our backyard is completely fenced in and it was astonishing how she escaped. When my husband, Benny, gingerly opened one of the gates to check on another gate, Puppy darted out from behind him and she was off and running.”

After looking all over the neighborhood for her, the Jensens reached out for some professional help. Information on Puppy’s escape traveled like wildfire with people coming from Santa Maria and Los Angeles to help look for her, even staying overnight.

“Camilla Persson of Vandenberg Village was the first one to help me,” said Jensen. “She faithfully kept my spirits up and informed me of possible sightings, encouraging us to remain hopeful and do what needed to be done to find and catch Puppy.” 

Persson suggested that Jensen get in touch with Stephanie Statom.

“Stephanie tirelessly made and distributed extremely large posters that she made herself that had been designed by Jenn from Dog Days Search and Rescue, in Los Angeles, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, volunteer-based, animal search and rescue group whose primary focus is to help lost animals reunite with their owners,” Jensen said. “There was no current picture of Puppy for the poster, so a picture of a lookalike dog was used instead and posters were hung, not only locally, but in neighboring towns as well.

“While Stephanie talked to people and mapped out the area that Puppy seemed to have chosen for her new home in the wild, we set up a feeding station, as Jenn had suggested. A neighbor, Carolyn, who lived on Alamo Pintado, graciously gave us special permission to set up a feeding station at her place. I bought Puppy’s favorite dog food and now we just had to wait and see. Jenn drove all the way from Los Angeles to set up a dog-trap and camera and slept in her van all night. And Debra from Santa Maria flew her drone with an infrared camera to see if they could find her. Julia De Sieno found a shepherd, but it was a male.”

Days turned into weeks, with no Puppy sightings, but after 23 days of constant searching, a miracle happened. 

“It must have been the work of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, or why else would the dog suddenly turn the other way and run along Alamo Pintado Road all the way to Buttonwood Farm where Stephanie had posted one of her posters?” Jensen said. “How could staff members at Buttonwood, Lee Gottheimer and Noah Hunt, have been so quick-thinking after seeing the shepherd, to close the door of the barn into which Puppy had run, and then, dash to the poster to find out where to contact us? It was a miracle. 

“Benny and I rushed over to Buttonwood and there in the barn was the fugitive Puppy, half-starved, skinny and shivering, but alive … we are so happy she is home. Now we are just trying to fatten her up and let her bond with us. She is doing much better now.”

But Jensen’s question is: “What might have happened if all those sweet people had not helped, together building this golden net of support and caring? Every phone call makes a difference! We would not have found Puppy if not for the community of people who came together to help. I am eternally grateful to everyone.”

This is a tale with a happy ending but Jensen cautions, “Listen to the professionals. They know what they are doing and exercise extreme caution. Dogs like to run!”

In appreciation to all those who helped out, Jensen is giving out gift certificates for $100 to her Good-as-New store in Solvang, which is filled with “high-end resale items.” If you didn’t already get one, or a donation, contact Jensen at (805) 688-6909.