Family holds out hope for finding Leo, one of two Bernese Mountain dogs missing since March 8.

JACKSON TWP. As the owners of a pair of missing Bernese Mountain puppies grieve the loss of one of the dogs, they remain hopeful his brother is found safe, though the outlook appears grim.

"It's not how we wanted things to turn out," said Lorri Beadling, owner of the 10-month-old dogs. "We're sad and broken-hearted, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for Leo."

Shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday, a man working on a property about a mile and a half to two miles from the Beadling family's home, spotted one of the dogs, Bear, close to the bank of a nearby pond, still wearing his blue collar. The man called Beadling's son, who notified the rest of the family.

The family retrieved Bear and continued to search for Leo, so far to no avail.

Beadling's daughter, Madison Beadling, posted on Facebook Tuesday that the morning the dogs went missing, the ponds were likely covered with a layer of thin ice.

"We're thinking Leo may just not have surfaced yet," her mother said Wednesday, adding that the dogs were always together. "They were never more than a couple feet apart. Wherever Bear was, Leo was."

"We're keeping an eye on the pond and other people are watching," she said, "but we're not giving up hope for Leo. Our greatest hope is that Leo is still out there (safe and alive)."

"Bear was an amazing dog who we loved so much," her daughter posted. "We will miss his big bear hugs. We thank God for our furry friend and the time we spent with him. He will be so missed. Furever in our hearts. We have not yet found Leo, and we are still holding out hope. My family and I want to thank each and every one of you for the love and support. Every phone call, every text, every message ... has been so appreciated. God bless."

 

Born May 5, the dogs went missing about 4 a.m. March 8 when Beadling's husband took Bear outside for an early morning bathroom break. Bear suddenly bolted from the yard, "probably after a deer," Beadling said, and as her husband opened the door to summon assistance, Leo pushed past him, running in the same direction as Bear, vanishing into the darkness.

The family has been joined in a search for the dogs for the past two and a half weeks by friends and strangers on foot, on Facebook and from the sky via drones.

The family, concerned that someone may have picked up the dogs and fearing they were taken to be used in a puppy mill, had announced a $1,500 reward for information leading to the safe return of their beloved pets, according to a March 14 Canton Repository article. The newspaper itself received hundreds of emails and phone calls, most of which shared the discovery of a pair of Bernese Mountain dogs found in Canada after an unfortunate encounter with porcupines.

Reach Lori at 330-580-8309 or lori.steineck@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @lsteineckREP