Vet’s dog goes missing

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A man’s best friend is missing. Vietnam veteran Nick Ford’s service dog is lost and nothing has been right for the veteran since.

Hooter, a 4-year-old black and white Fox terrier and Jack Russell mix, helps sooth Ford’s anxiety from PTSD.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Belen resident Nick Ford, and girlfriend, Ann Rupprecht have been searching for Hooter since he went missing last week.

“I haven’t been the same since I lost him,” Ford said. “Nothing has gone right since he’s been gone.”

Hooter is an accredited service dog with the New Mexico Veteran’s Association Health Care System.

Ford, a resident of Belen, went to the veteran’s hospital in Albuquerque on Tuesday, Aug. 13. He took Hooter, as he does wherever he goes, but on the way home that day, Ford had a reaction to a new medication and passed out at the Belen Rail Runner station.

The next thing he knew, it was Wednesday morning and he was in a hospital bed at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque.

Ford doesn’t know who called for the ambulance or what happened to Hooter.

As soon as he was released from the hospital, Ford and his girlfriend, Albuquerque resident Ann Rupprecht, began searching for Hooter.

They have been posting fliers all over the Belen train station neighborhood and they have gone door to door, looking for the lost pooch.

Several children and a few adults have told Ford they saw the dog around Wisconsin, Michigan and Washington streets, all east of the Rail Runner station.

“I love him,” Ford said. “Every day we’ve spent a minimum of six hours looking for him. People have seen him, but nobody has called me.”

Ford and Rupprecht have also called most of the veterinarian clinics in the county and the Valencia County Animal Shelter.

“We’ve met a lot of real nice people going door to door,” Ford said. “I mean, some good people — they’re really concerned.”

Rupprecht said Hooter was wearing a blue collar with a rabies tag on it, and the dog is distinguished by his small, misshaped nose that might be a birth defect.

Hooter is very friendly and loves children, but his larger role is an necessary medical aid for the former U.S. Marine.

Ford said he’d like to get Hooter back “yesterday.”

“He’s like his child,” said Rupprecht. “That’s how much Hooter means to him.”

The little service dog was last seen around Joe’s Barber Shop on Reinken and Wisconsin streets near the Rail Runner Station. A generous reward is being offered to anyone who returns Hooter.

If anyone has information or know where the dog is, call Nick Ford at 203-0620, or email nickwindchaser@yahoo.com, or call Rupprecht at 319-4546.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.