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Dog Finds Home After Surviving Wild For More Than 2 Year

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A dog-gone good story of survival - a dog escapes her kennel at a West Virginia hunting club and spends the next two and a half years traveling hundreds of miles before finding a new life in Broome County. 

Sadie, an American foxhound, started her incredible journey in 2014 and for the next couple of years, she lived in the wild, traveling miles a day, eating roots and twigs to survive. 

“Think about how far that is. How many creeks and rivers and roads that she had to cross." 
— Jamie Szenher, Sadie's co-owner

In January 2017, Town of Chenango Dog Control Officer Linda Hamilton was contacted after several residents saw a dog with a coyote trap on its right hind leg. 

"For the next five months, I just kept trying to get her. She had travel to the Town of Maine and then to Maine-Endwell, and then finally we got her in Endicott. She was carrying the trap on her foot for a month and a half, that I know of, until her foot died and then somebody actually located the trap with her foot in it. It was an illegal coyote trap," said Hamilton. 

It wasn't until June 22, 2017 that Hamilton finally captured the injured dog. 

"There’s been several sightings in the north side of Endicott and Maine-Endwell area. I bought a track phone and put up 200 posters," said Hamilton. "Sightings were coming in left and right." 

Sadie was taken to a rescue in New Jersey where she was vetted and fixed. When Hamilton found her, she was wearing an orange collar with an ID. They traced the ID to a hunt club in West Virginia. 

"They were told of the story about what happened and they didn't want her back," said Hamilton. 

That's when Hamilton decided to adopt the homeless dog.

Sadie, who has only known life in a kennel or in the wild, wasn't used to living in a home or human contact.

"I mean she’s a happy dog, but when you pet her, she doesn’t really understand what getting pet is," said Jamie Szenher, Sadie's co-owner and Hamilton's boyfriend. "She’s gotten better with it."

"[She's learning what love is?]- Yes," answered Hamilton and Szenher. 

After losing her right hind paw to the coyote trap, Hamilton contacted Cornell University in the spring of 2018 in hopes that they could provide Sadie with a possible prosthetic.

"She was using that limb a little bit. It was just the bottom of her foot that was missing," said Hamilton. "But it was causing irritation and bleeding so they told she needed to get a full amputation or use the prosthetic."

They decided to see how Sadie does with a prosthetic, and to their relief, she did great, according to Hamilton. 

So how did this dog survive two and a half years in the wild?

"I am pretty sure she ate a lot of animal droppings a lot of tree bark," said Hamilton. 

They also believe Sadie was able to survive by eating the cat food people placed outside for strays. But, they will never know for sure how she managed to overcome everything Mother Nature threw at her. 

"Last year, we had over 3 feet of snow in one day and we didn’t hear from her or no sightings for 10 days. Heard nothing. And then all of a sudden someone calls in and saw her. She survived and we thought she died," said Szenher. "How do you survive that?"

And even thought Sadie now has a new 'leash' on life and a bright future ahead of her, Szenher said her past still comes back to haunt her. 

"She has nightmares. She’ll have nightmares I would say every single night," said Szenher. "She is shaking, running, twitching a lot in her nightmares. So, I could just imagine where that’s from"