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Husky finds missing dog in K’hook

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    Contributed photo Kinderhook resident John Michael Varese credits his 8-year-old Siberian husky, Wiley, with finding Lilly, a partially blind dog who went missing in the town Feb. 3.
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    Contributed photo Lilly, a dog who was lost in Kinderhook since Feb. 3, was found Monday with the help of Wiley, an 8-year-old Siberian husky.
February 12, 2018 05:15 pm Updated: February 13, 2018 02:54 pm

KINDERHOOK — A dog that was lost for nearly nine days in the freezing rain, snow and frigid temperatures was found Monday thanks to the help of a Siberian husky with a good nose.

Residents helped search for Lilly, a 12-year-old Labrador-husky mix missing since Feb. 3, according to a Facebook post shared by hundreds of people.

“She disappeared off our back porch one day,” said Lilly’s owner, Debbie Johnson of the village of Kinderhook. “That is where she always sits. It’s like she vanished into thin air. The next day, we had a couple of search parities look, but they couldn’t find her anywhere.”

Johnson feared because Lilly has vision problems and often becomes disoriented, she may have become lost in the woods near her home.

“That was a big concern of mine — that she wasn’t going to find her way back home,” Johnson said.

Johnson received calls from people from as far away as Red Hook or Rhinebeck with some offering tips while others called just to see if Lilly had been found, she said.

“It was unbelievable the support and the number of people who were pulling for her that didn’t know her,” Johnson said.

It was with the help of another dog — an 8-year-old Siberian husky named Wiley — that Lilly was found.

Wiley’s owner Jon Michael Varese said his Monday began when he and Wiley went for their usual morning walk. Ice and rain made their usual route treacherous so the pair took a new route — Railroad Avenue.

The two were turning around and making their way home along Railroad Avenue when Wiley began to pull his leash toward a dumpster near the Kinderhook Public Works garage.

Varese followed Wiley, and that’s when he saw something strange beside the dumpster.

“I thought, ‘What’s he pulling me towards?’” Varese said. “Then, I see this thing next to the dumpster. At first, I thought it was a garbage bag. And then, I thought it must be an animal, and it hit me that this is the missing dog.

“I thought it was dead because that is what everyone was thinking,” he continued. “So we stopped and started to cluck my tongue to see if she was alive, and she moved a little bit.”

Varese, who did not know Johnson, called Johnson’s for help.

“He [Wiley] is always been prescient about these things, it seems,” Varese said. “He is a Siberian husky, but we’re thinking he might be part coyote because of his ability to track and find things. He is a very aware dog. He always knows what is going on around him.”

After being told of Lilly’s location, Johnson found her dog laying in a ball beside the dumpster, she said.

“Any dog owner feels that your dog is like your child and when your dog goes missing, it is a terrifying thing,” Varese said. “Wiley was missing once for a half-an-hour once and we were just frantic. When that happens to anyone, as a fellow dog owner, you feel it. To have it be my dog to be the one save the day for this family, I feel blessed.”

It was a happy ending many in the community were hoping for, Town Councilwoman Sally Hogan said.

“It’s amazing how a group of caring individuals came together in our town of Kinderhook to look for Lilly,” Hogan said. “We all spread the word on social media, word of mouth, walked our neighborhoods and it was Wiley, a beautiful dog, who found her. Our pets are family to us and we’re so happy she is back with her family.”

Even as temperatures dipped and cold weather set in, Johnson said she kept hope alive Lilly would turn up.

“We have had some bad weather, frigid below-zero temperatures, snow and freezing rain,” Johnson said. “She [Lilly] endured it all on her own out in the wilderness.”

Lilly was released by the veterinarian and was recovering by her favorite spot near the wood stove in her home Monday afternoon, Johnson said.

“I am grateful to Jon and Wiley for finding her for me,” she said. “Although we live in the same village, we didn’t know each other. We do now.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500 or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.