Okeechobee community helps search for missing dog

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
After being lost in the woods for three days, Madelyn made it safely home to the arms of her owner, Judge Bill Wallace.

OKEECHOBEE — Recently, citizens of Okeechobee turned out in droves to hunt for the lost puppy belonging to Judge Bill Wallace. Little Madelyn, a beautiful long-haired dachshund, disappeared from her home on Friday afternoon, Jan. 10, while Judge Wallace was out of town.

As soon as it was discovered that she had wandered off, a search was mounted, with friends, family and even strangers helping to look. Madelyn is a shy little thing, and Judge Wallace knew she would be unlikely to approach anyone she did not know and the area where she was lost is home to many predators, but he never gave up hope that his little girl would make it home.

Judge Wallace said Maddie is a hoarder and loves to take his belongings and hide them, so he thought if he put some of his T-shirts out in a two-mile radius of where she went missing, she might find one of them, and she did. On Saturday morning, one of the shirts was gone. The judge and his family, along with what seemed to be half of Okeechobee, spent the day searching for her, and Judge Wallace prepared to spend the night alone out where he had left the shirt.

He had hired private investigator Jamie Katz and, though she wasn’t scheduled to arrive until Monday morning, she and Judge Wallace spent quite a bit of time on the phone brainstorming ideas on how to find Maddie. The plan was to remove all search parties from the woods and for Judge Wallace to stay the night on the ground where the shirt was taken. They felt she might go back to check in. The judge would stay without a tent, a fire or a vehicle so that she would be more likely to pick up his scent.

Before he hit the ground, he took off his shoes and walked from the location of the shirt to the house and back again, about a mile. He did this to lay down a scent trail. Ehricka Wallace searched around the house, and soon saw a small white animal coming toward her. It was Madelyn! She is in remarkably good health, and Judge Wallace said he is very grateful for all the help he received in looking for Madelyn.

“I have said it before and I will say it here now, I am blessed to have you all in my life,” said the judge.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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