SALEM, Ore. – Everyone wants to know where Sara’s been, but Sara isn’t saying.
There are a number of possible scenarios that could explain how the border collie/Australian shepherd mix – who went missing in Aumsville in the spring of 2010 – turned up in Utah three summers later.
Did she walk? A more likely possibility is that Sara was picked up by a trucker or a new family who later moved to Utah. Regardless of where the pup has been or how she got there, Sara is finally home.
She’s the same dog her family knew nearly three years ago; she has the same mischievous brown eyes and what can only be described as a sweet smile on her muzzle.
She has mellowed over time and is a bit heavier, but there is no mistaking: She’s their Sara.
Kristin Riccitti was at home in Aumsville when the phone rang.
She answered and a young voice came through the receiver. It was Natasha Busboom, a veterinary technician in Kearns, Utah.
“She asked if I had a dog named Sara,” Riccitti said. “I had to think for a minute. It was bizarre. It was an out-of-the-blue phone call.”
After the initial shock wore off, Riccitti burst into the room where her husband, Marcus Riccitti, was napping and said over and over again: “You’re never going to believe this!”
Sara had been spotted Aug. 18 wandering through a far-flung canyon near Kearns. She was brought to West Lake Veterinary Hospital, where Busboom scanned the black and white pup for a microchip. Sure enough, a number popped up.
The clinic waived the kennel fee and waited for instructions for Sara’s return to Oregon.
In 2010, the Riccitti family – Marcus, Kristin and their five children – came upon hard times. They moved in with family in Salem and asked a friend in Aumsville to watch Sara until they were able to reorganize their lives.
But Sara, who has a history of wanderlust, just couldn’t stay put.
The family was heartbroken. Kristin had adopted Sara at 6 months old. The dog had comforted Kristin’s oldest son, who is autistic.
“I had given up all hope (of finding her),” Kristin said. “We looked hard for a good year.”
Eight hours after Kristin received the news that Sara had been found, a stranger who knew a friend of Kristin offered to bring her home.
The family gathered curbside at a park in Troutdale on Aug. 26, watching for a Chevy pickup with Washington plates. Kristin was nervous. Would Sara recognize them?
A silver truck pulled to a stop at the park. Lydia Ayers got out and lowered the tailgate, and there was 6-year-old Sara, looking confused. Her doubt turned to joy as soon as she leaped from the truck.
She wiggled and wagged, barely able to keep four paws on the ground. She endured long, tearful hugs as her family surrounded her. She did old tricks for Marcus; first one paw, then the next. Sara’s mischievous brown eyes shined when Kristin asked her a question she’ll never understand: “What have you been up to?”