The past week was full of awful shit: ISIS destroying years of history, beloved actor Leonard Nimoy dying, life-threatening bacterial infections on the rise, a mass murder in Missouri, THAT dress, Scott Walker existing.
But one story that didn’t make headlines is keeping me up at night. It’s about a lost dog named Sugar and the desperate search to bring her home.
From the information I’ve gathered—mostly via Instagram, where a huge push to #FindSugar is happening and where her owners Morgan Bogle and Scott MacDonough are posting updates—Sugar’s longtime dog walker lost her last Monday, another day of frigid temperatures in New York. It’s suspected that the walker was using drugs, and may have sold her for drug money.
“Five witnesses say he was [on drugs] and saw drugs on him,” Bogle told me via email. “He’s currently in the psychiatric ward.”
According to the New York Post, “the man flipped out while [Bogle] was away, kicking the front door of her apartment Monday while shouting and swearing, witnesses said.”
Here’s the worst part: Sugar’s dog walker might have sold her to a dogfighting ring. She’s a pit bull and, as we all know, pit bulls are the choice breed for dogfighting. "If he sold her it would be to someone who was involved in that type of activity. That’s the thing we’ve heard that most people buy pitbulls for illegally," Amanda Carter, a representative for Bogle, wrote to me in an email.
Bogle told me the dog walker has allegedly hired a lawyer and won’t give any information about where Sugar might be, while Bogle and MacDonough have hired a pet detective, created a campaign online, and hung fliers around the city. Bogle says the police aren’t assisting with the search, and that the dog walker was not arrested. She says they’re getting up to 100 tips every day, but none has been successful so far.
Sugar’s owners are also offering a $10,000 reward, no questions asked. Half of the reward was raised through friends and family, while Golden State Warriors basketball player David Lee donated the other $5,000.
If you’ve never had a dog, this story might not rip your guts out. But if you have, you know the way their eyes light up and entire rear ends shake with excitement. The way they tear through a park at top speed, full of uninhibited, wild joy. The way their eyes change with sadness or embarrassment after a scolding or trip to the vet. The way they look at the world as something to smell, taste, and explore. The way they learn to communicate with you through sounds and signals, a language all your own. The small moments of great happiness when they curl up next to you unprompted or sloppily lick your face. The fact that we’ll never completely understand them, and that it only makes them more special. The unlikely friendship. The magic.
Sometimes when I’m walking my dog, I look at him compared to the city backdrop and my heart wants to burst because he’s so small compared to his surroundings and so painfully adorable and so genuinely delightful to be around. He’s curious, playful, affectionate, sensitive, and wickedly smart. I teach him what I can, but every day I learn something new from him—how to be patient, how to be kind, how to communicate in a new way, how to nurture. I feel lucky that he lives in my house, that I can provide for him, that he seems to like me (and maybe even love me—dogs can feel it, science says!). He trusts me completely, and to earn that from a creature once-removed from wolves is exhilarating and oddly humanizing.
So I can’t help but think of my pup when I think of Sugar, and how devastating it would be to lose him—especially with the risk of horrific abuse.
If you’re in New York, Sugar (or “Sugy”), a pit bull, was last seen on February 23, possibly on 25th and 3rd. She might be wearing a blue sweater, and she has distinct white marks on her face and chest. According to her owners and loved ones, she’s extremely friendly and will come when called.
She was once rescued from an abusive situation, and could now be back in that nightmare. If you have information, please call or text 949-887-0283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
3/3/15 Update: Due to overwhelming response, the NYPD's ASPCA division is taking over Sugar's case. The family wants to make it clear that there will be no charges for Sugar's safe return.