Call him Harry Hound-ini.
When Speedy the Chihuahua escaped from his backyard in January of 2012, he pulled the disappearing act of a lifetime. Owner Lori Whitton was in the yard at the time, gardening, when Speedy sneaked out through a 3-inch opening in the gate.
“I didn’t even notice he had gotten out,” said Whitton, of Oklahoma City. “By the time I realized I needed to look for him, he was already gone.”
Although Lori and her husband, Don, didn’t realize it at the time, Speedy’s escape would be the start of a two-year odyssey. The tiny dog would crisscross the state before he finally came home, thanks to something even smaller than him: a microchip.
The Whittons adopted Speedy seven years ago as a stray. Although thin and dehydrated, he was immensely friendly, and they soon fell in love. Don christened the dog “Speedy.” It would prove to be an apt moniker.
Lori and Don had microchipped and tagged all their dogs as a precaution. Their other dogs tended to be homebodies, who, even if let outside, would stick close. It soon became apparent Speedy was different.
“He’s very adventurous,” Lori Whitton said. “He just puts his nose down and goes, but he usually only gets a few blocks.”
Speedy had escaped several times before, once disappearing for three weeks. Thanks to his tags with the Whittons’ phone number and address, he was always found.
But that January, Speedy had been having allergy issues and scratching at his neck, so Lori removed the collar to make him more comfortable.
At first, the Whittons were sure Speedy would be home again soon. But as the days, weeks, and months passed without a word, they grew worried, and their efforts to find him grew more intense. They put up posters and placed ads. Don sent Speedy’s picture to more than 100 veterinarians in case he showed up there. Lori visited the pound on her lunch break every day for three months.
“We were devastated,” Lori Whitton said. “We have an armoire upstairs, and every morning after he ate breakfast, he would go there and lie on his blanket in the armoire. We always keep the door ajar a little for him. After about a year, we finally closed it. Both of us cried when we did that.”
Lost and found
After two years, the Whittons resigned themselves that they would never see Speedy again. He was showing signs of aging when he ran away, and Lori worried he might have died. Then one day while Don was at work, she got a call from Norman Animal Welfare. The man on the phone told her something she never thought she’d hear.
“He said, ‘We’ve got Speedy,’” Lori Whitton said. “I don’t think he understood why I was so freaked out until I explained how long he’d been missing.”
She drove to Norman immediately. It was a jubilant reunion. Speedy leapt into Whitton’s arms; he was a little grayer but no less energetic and none the worse for wear. When Speedy got back to the Whittons’ home, one of the first things he did was go to his armoire for a nap.
Many parts of Speedy’s journey are still a mystery. He was found near Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at the University of Oklahoma by two students who took him to Animal Welfare, where the microchip was discovered. But another Norman woman thinks she had Speedy for about a year before that. In addition, he was wearing a vaccine tag from Midwest City when he was returned to the Whittons.
“I am so thankful we had him microchipped,” Whitton said. “If we hadn’t, we would never have seen him again. I can’t describe how much we love this dog. He just brings so much joy to our lives.”