Christmas was still a week away. Haley Pittman was busy at her home in Pflugerville planning the holiday for her two young children. But one phone call would change even the best toy she had wrapped for her daughters, Hanna, 6, and Harmonie, 3.
It was Judy Hallmark from the Erath County Humane Society.
“I said, ‘We have a dog with a chip that we have traced back to you,’” Hallmark said. “She started crying.”
Pittman’s canine, a seven-year-old Mastiff mix named Maynard, disappeared more than two years ago from her parent’s farm in San Saba while she saved enough money for a pet deposit.
“I left him at my parent’s for three weeks,” Pittman said. “When I went to pick him up my mom said he was running the ranch, which was 200 acres.”
Pittman began a frantic search for Maynard.
“I called the pound every day. I put fliers out and ads in the newspaper,” Pittman said.
After weeks of searching, Pittman was convinced that Maynard had digested poison from a neighbor’s farm, which aimed to keep coyotes away from livestock.
“I was just terrified he had gotten into that,” Pittman said.
But Maynard did not digest the poison. Instead, he wound up more than 90 miles from the family farm - two years later.
“I just can’t believe this is happening,” Pittman said.
Maynard was turned into the pound on Dec. 11 by a young male who found him wandering at a local gas station.
“I started working last week on (finding his owner) and I would call phone number after phone number and they said, ‘No record, no record,’” Hallmark said.
Finally, after nearly a week and some of Maynard’s magic tricks, Hallmark was forced to ask a friend for assistance.
“He has already let all the other dogs out,” Hallmark said. “Maynard is quite a Houdini.”
Birgit Sommer, vice president of the Erath County Humane Society and owner of Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, took Maynard home and began a search for his human family.
“I was working on it for about four hours,” Sommer said. “I finally had a hit with the Austin City Shelter and had a record of the dog from 2002. It took another few hours of tracing and e-mailing and calling, but I finally found someone with the record.”
The record stated that Maynard had been adopted in May 2002 near Austin.
“I got him when he was little and paid $75 for him,” Pittman said. “I registered him with the chip.”
And Pittman is thankful for the chip because it brought Maynard back home.
“I haven’t had any more pets since him I was so heartbroken,” Pittman said. “I’m so thankful to have him back.”
Pittman traveled more than three hours to retrieve Maynard Friday. She signed the papers and made a donation to the Erath County Humane Society.
“I’m very grateful you guys found me and took the time, you didn’t have to do that,” Pittman said. “So I came prepared to give back.”
Maynard headed home to become the best Christmas present the Pittman family could have possibly received.
“(Hanna) said, ‘I’ve missed my dog,’” Pittman said. “It is a Merry Christmas to me.”