All the best to Reba and Tom!
Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for this article.
Dog returned to ‘speechless’ Chicago panhandler
Pet had been missing since Sept. 7
By Gerry Smith Tribune staff reporter
11:38 PM CDT, September 22, 2007
For two weeks, Tom Finley was in a daze, holding fliers with a photo of his friend and asking passersby in the Loop if they had seen a blond husky/terrier mix with a limp.
“It was hard to sleep,” he said. “Hard to eat.”
On Saturday, the well-known panhandler received a gift no amount of loose change could replace when he was reunited with Reba, who had been missing since Finley, 69, left the 12-year-old dog outside a McDonald’s at South Franklin Street and West Jackson Boulevard on Sept. 7.
“I’m speechless,” Finley said during a press conference at the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago, where Reba strained on the leash and barked at photographers.
Since Reba disappeared, Finley had received an outpouring of support from the public. Office workers printed up fliers of the missing dog and a woman gave Finley a prepaid cell phone to field calls in the search. He said he received “hundreds” of calls from people claiming to have seen Reba.
“Some would call and say they’d spotted her or they had her,” he said. “Sometimes I thought I heard her myself.”
Finley believed Reba was taken by someone who thought he couldn’t care for her. Officials at the Anti-Cruelty Society would not identify the woman who had returned Reba.
“She was in tears,” said Nadine Walmsley, an official with the Anti-Cruelty Society. “She just handed us the dog. We honored our part. No questions asked.”
Finley said he already forgave the woman, if she had been the one who had taken Reba.
“I thank her from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
The Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago will offer the 30-pound canine a lifetime of free veterinary care, starting with an appointment on Tuesday, Walmsley said.
“Reba’s an older dog and she’s got some real issues,” Walmsley said. “We’re going to find out what the problems are and try to address them the best we can.”
Finley, who has been homeless before, has been living in a studio apartment on the North Side for about four months, he said, scraping together the $550 rent with monthly Social Security checks.
The reward fund for Reba’s return, set two weeks ago at $500, has grown through donations to an undisclosed amount, Walmsley said. The woman who returned the dog would not accept the reward, and so it will be given to Finley, Walmsley said.
But as he crouched down to let Reba lick his face, Finley declined to put a price on his friend’s return.
“I’d be lost without her,” he said. “She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”