BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Ten days ago, Paul Flentge looked at the world differently. He was more cynical, skeptical – he didn’t see the good in the world as much as he focused on the bad.
But all that changed for the well-known Hawaii author because of a dog that was lost.
He cherished his Belgian shepherd puppy Sadie, and often took her hiking with him on various trails around the island. But she ran away on a Nuuanu trail 10 days ago after an aggressive, much larger dog, scared her, and she disappeared down a hill and into the woods.
Flentge set out to find her, and after he had no success, he continued his search day after day.
Every morning before the sun rose until the sun set, Flentge searched the Nuuanu trails in the mountains where Sadie had run away. He talked to dozens of people he met along the way and posted fliers with her picture. He spread clothes and other items that smelled like him and left food in hopes she would be attracted to those locations and stay there.
Along the way, as many as 18 people – some he did not even know – joined the search to find her, and more people helped those people look.
Some 800 people called Flentge over the last 10 days since Sadie was lost asking what they could do to help. There was the policeman, the mailman, the bus driver, the pig hunter and many, many others who joined in the search. People prayed for him and Sadie and one even called a Pet Psychic to help track her down.
A realtor touched by the story about Sadie in Hawaii Reporter offered a reward of $500 to the person who could find her – and eventually others contributed, increasing it to $3,000.
One woman Flentge had never met donated 40 McDonald hamburgers (for Sadie) and a survival pack for Flentge and the dog in case she was found.
But with many leads and no results, the days went by and Flentge became more frantic.
He already cancelled his mainland book tour, where he was going to promote his books “Chopping Ice” and “Path of the Wolf.”
Today, after 10 long days of searching, Flentge got a tip he was waiting for – Sadie was spotted going down a trail in Nuuanu.
He followed the lead and the two were reunited.
The man who called the tip in will get the $3,000 reward, Flentge said, in addition to the satisfaction that he was responsible for helping to bring Sadie home.
“People, when it comes to their pets, have so much empathy that it is overwhelming at times,” Flentge said in an interview Hawaii Reporter.
He said the search evolved into a huge community effort that “really touched him” and “changed him on the inside.”
“Lots of times in the past I have seen the worst in people. I was really skeptical – I was cynical. Now since this happened, I see that just about anyone has a measure of good.”
In an email to his many volunteers who helped in the search, he said: “Thank you all for the love, concern, support, all of your caring. It was beyond anything I could have imagined.”
He said he still is getting calls from people making sure he found Sadie and then offering to help take down the posters with her picture.
“People at their best!” he said.
Sadie was immediately whisked off to a veterinarian today so an injured foot could be examined. She lost 8 pounds, he said. But Sadie is fine other than needing a good bath, a good meal and a long dog nap.
Flentge, who lost his share of weight too, said he is done hiking for a while. “Ten days, ten pounds. … I’ve never been happier,’ he said.
Great job and greater happiness now that Sadie is home! Prayers answered.
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