This unlikely ending for beloved dog lost in East Dallas is the sanity break we all need

Hobie’s story is only light if you’ve never loved a dog.

Her story is also a much needed mental health break as we return to our post-vacation routine with a pandemic of stress and exhaustion weighing down on us.

Late on Christmas Eve, Hobie just needed to do his business in his backyard.

The humans at his Swiss Avenue home were absorbed in the chaos of finishing letters to Santa, wrapping the last presents, and bickering over guests and their own dogs in the right beds.

No one noticed when Hobie, 3, who knows how to open the back door when Audrey and Mike Schott are not available, crept into the fenced yard.

Hobie’s envy had struck just as the lame East Dallas holiday celebrants – after browsing their fireworks cache – began their barrage of moonlight shootings.

It must have sounded like the end of the world for the wayward, soft-eyed lab-beagle mix.

Christmas morning dawned with anticipation of all the new traditions Audrey and Mike had planned for 3-year-old twins Mae and Willa. Children and adults were ready; just like Hannah and Shiner, their extended family dogs.

What about Hobie, whom Audrey had supposed to have spent the noisy night curled up with his girlfriend Hannah?

In a memory punch, the Schotts recalled fireworks and gunfire. Although the 50-pound Hobie had never walked through the backyard door before, they knew if he was scared he probably could.

“He’s the coldest dog out there, but he can be so nervous and anxious when he’s in a new situation,” Audrey told me.

Mike and Audrey Schott with their dog, Hobie, and their two daughters, Willa and Mae, hug Audrey outside their East Dallas home.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

A quick search of the neighbors’ gardens turned up nothing. The identification of the surrounding blocks by car either. “That’s when Mike and I got a little more frantic,” recalls Audrey.

Hobie had been through a lot in his short life before. Abandoned as a tiny puppy and rescued on a Kentucky road, he eventually made his way to the Schotts’ house in Brooklyn, then moved with them to Dallas in 2019.

At six months pregnant with the twins, Audrey had decided she needed to have a dog. “You know how crazy these pregnancy hormones are,” she said with a laugh. “Fortunately, Mike was desperate to keep things happy. “

Unlike overcrowded animal shelters in much of the country, fewer dogs are available for adoption in New York City. So the Schott’s used the Petfinder adoption website to track down a pooch in need of rescue.

They named him Hobie, after the gentle and confident guardian of others in Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch. He was a big brother to the twins, very protective and invaluable to a family who, Audrey laughs, can be a “hot express.”

Audrey and Mike grew up in Texas but left the state to pursue their careers. He works in finance; she teaches music. After the twins were born in Brooklyn, they decided it was time to come home. The girls needed more space – and so did Hobie.

On this Christmas morning, Audrey and Mike knew they couldn’t sit down during the festivities while this most special family member was away.

Hobie the puppy, just after his adoption by Audrey and Mike Schott.  Rescuers found him abandoned around 3 months old on a road in Kentucky.
Hobie the puppy, just after his adoption by Audrey and Mike Schott. Rescuers found him abandoned around 3 months old on a road in Kentucky.(Family photo)

“We’re not good at hiding our emotions,” Audrey told me. “It would have been worse for the girls if I had been there, sitting and worried and trying not to dissolve in a puddle.”

Leaving loved ones in charge of Christmas, the couple spent the day desperately trying to find Hobie, who wore a green Christmas holly bow tie and red Scottish tartan necklace and tag.

Because Hobie was microchipped through Home Again, the company has released information about his disappearance. The Schott’s have posted information and photos on the Nextdoor app.

Pet Detective Bonnie Hale, who primarily deals with missing cats, offered some great advice. Audrey and Mike have printed and posted hundreds of eye-catching flyers and posters throughout East Dallas.

In the first few days after Hobie’s disappearance, an army of animal-loving volunteers tried to help, though few even knew the Schott family.

“It was overwhelming in a good way, after Hobie’s disappearance how many people came out and said, ‘I’ve seen the flyers and I’m watching your dog,'” Audrey said. “How many asked what they could do to help, those who watched at night, who called with tips.”

At one point, Audrey drove to McKinney after seeing a photo she was sure was Hobie. She ended up with a broken toe – when a door opened on her foot – but learned nothing about her missing pet.

A face mask hangs from the rearview mirror of a parked car in Richardson.

Other sightings were closer to home. Descriptions of a stray animal spotted in Old East Dallas, first near Planet Fitness on Columbia Avenue and then in Buckner Park, included details apparently unique to Hobie.

But that dog left before Audrey and Mike could find him.

The Schott’s knew that stories like Hobie’s often don’t have happy endings. With the arrival of New Years Eve, it was difficult to keep the research momentum going. “Our hopes were down,” Audrey said. “We were tired.”

They also developed cold symptoms.

In anticipation of a family horse-drawn carriage ride with friends – a celebration booked weeks earlier – Audrey and Mike took COVID tests; both were positive.

“Our minds have been crushed,” Audrey said. “We both felt defeated in so many ways.”

Hours later, an area code number 888 showed up on her phone as Audrey bathed the twins. Thinking it was spam, Audrey let the call go into voicemail.

It was the microchip company.

One of the Home Again volunteers who received the original notice regarding Hobie spotted a dog matching his description in Everglade Park in the Buckner Terrace neighborhood.

The park is 10 km southeast of the Schott’s home, across Interstate 30 and many busy thoroughfares away from Swiss Avenue.

Mike immediately jumped into the car with some leftover prime rib and Hannah, Hobie’s dog buddy who belongs to Audrey’s parents. At the park, a man walking his own dog looked at Hobie’s photo and pointed to the nearby softball field.

“This is him, this is him,” Mike said through tears when he called Audrey to tell her he was watching Hobie alongside another dog, a mix of white and gray.

The pet sleuth had warned the couple not to call or rush to Hobie if they found him. So Mike sat down quietly, still a few feet from the dogs.

Finally, Hobie cautiously moved over to Hannah – and the prime rib. The more the two sniffed, the more animated Hobie became. At one point, Mike said, Hobie seemed to recognize, “Oh, Mike is there too.”

In an instant, “Out of the Wild Hobie” dropped his mask and “Domestic Hobie” was back.

Three-year-old Willa takes a dog treat from her father, Mike Schott, while her mother Audrey watches Willa's twin, Mae, feed Hobie on Monday.
Three-year-old Willa takes a dog treat from her father, Mike Schott, while her mother Audrey watches Willa’s twin, Mae, feed Hobie on Monday.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

Hobie and Hannah were ready to go home, but despite Mike’s best efforts, he couldn’t coax the third dog into his vehicle, and she eventually ran away.

All the while, Audrey and the twins – who most of them thought Hobie was “off on an adventure” – were sitting in the driveway waiting for their dog to return.

“Hobie immediately started wagging his tail,” said Audrey, still in tears a few days later from their good fortune. “He was so, so tired. But it was the same Hobie.

The dog’s only injury was a slightly chewed right paw because it probably got stuck in a fence. He came home, missing only his festive Christmas bow tie.

That night the parents, twins, Hobie and Hannah all slept in the same bed. Thanks to the pain medication for his injury, Hobie barely noticed the New Years Eve fireworks and gunshots.

For now, bungee cords secure the Schotts’ slight opening to the backyard door, and they’ve ordered a dog collar with GPS capabilities.

Audrey and Mike divided the $ 2,000 reward they offered between the Home Again volunteer and the dog walker who indicated Hobie’s whereabouts. But they think they owe a debt of gratitude that they will never be able to repay to the dozens of people who have stepped up to help.

“Communities, when they come together, can be amazing. People are basically good, ”Audrey told me. “People want to help other people. … There is good in the world. It sounds so basic, but it’s so important.

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