Family uses $1,000 to draw attention to missing dog

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Debbie and Ted Coalter's offer of a $1,000 reward for the return of their Yorkie terrier, Winston, gives an inkling of how much he means to them. It also is calculated to get someone's attention.

The Coalters began running an ad in the Southeast Missourian this week offering the hefty reward for the tiny 5-year-old silver, tan and brown dog lost in Cape Girardeau's Mount Auburn Road area.

The Coalters, their children -- Laura and Jason -- and Jason's wife, Lesley, and their friends have been combing their Chateau Drive neighborhood since Winston disappeared Feb. 10. They have spent many hours posting fliers with his image everywhere an empty space could be found and handed out more fliers in the Westfield Subdivision. They have given fliers to their mail carrier and UPS deliveryman.

The reward is the latest step in their desperate campaign to bring Winston home. By making the reward so substantial, the Coalters hope to make it profitable to anyone who knows what has become of him.

Winston should have part of a blue leash attached to his collar. He also will be known by his ability to stand on his hind legs, to open purses to get gum and cigarettes, to run very fast, and to be very loving.

When the Coalters hosted a Latvian exchange student a few years ago, it was Winston who helped her get over her homesickness, Debbie says.

If someone has taken Winston in, she acknowledged, "It would be hard to give him up."

It has been hard for the Coalters.

"It's like losing a member of the family," Debbie said.

They have received two calls from people who saw the fliers. The first caller claimed to have seen Winston at a car wash on Mount Auburn Road, but that was a day earlier. The second person had spotted a dog near St. Mary Cathedral School that looked like Winston. Racing there, they saw a small dog with its back to them. When it turned around and wasn't Winston, Laura started crying.

Chewed through lead

Winston disappeared at 3 a.m. Feb. 10 after being let out the front door of the Coalters' home on his lead. The lead was staked into the ground. Winston was gone a few minutes later. The cloth lead had been chewed in two.

Neighbors have said they hear coyotes howling at night, but the Coalters don't want to think the worst. They heard Winston bark once while in the yard that night, but it wasn't a distress bark, Debbie says.

"We want to hold onto the hope that somebody does have him."

Twenty-two-year-old college student Laura recalls how Winston cheered her up if she felt bad. "He was always real loyal, and he gave kisses all the time," she said.

"... I miss him."

The Coalters believe things happen according to God's will. Ted says perhaps Winston has found a home with someone who has cancer or needs him badly.

"If it's meant to be, we'll get him back," Debbie said.

Anyone with information about Winston is asked to call 450-7554.

335-6611, extension 182

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