The strange, mysterious saga of Baby the dog appears to be over. If only dogs could talk.
Mike Heath, a homeless man whose therapy dog helped him with psychological issues, reported that the dog, Baby, was stolen in May. Heath posted fliers all over south Minneapolis, where the dog was believed to have been taken, and showed up at the Star Tribune looking for assistance.
On Wednesday morning, Heath and Baby were reunited with the help of a south Minneapolis shop owner, Toni Johnson and her sister, Andi, who took in the dog and sought out Heath.
“Who’s this dog? Who’s this little guy?” Heath said as Baby jumped up and down on Heath’s leg, barking ecstatically.
If there was any doubt Heath had found his dog, Heath pretended to shoot the dog with his finger.
Obediently, Baby slumped to the ground.
Bloomington police had attempted to find the dog for two months, but the stories were fuzzy because the people with Heath were drug abusers and Heath said he suffers from memory problems and ill health. Heath said a woman, who had a history of prostitution, took his dog and brought Baby to a house where drugs were sold.
Their case is now closed.
As he fought back tears and held Baby outside the Bloomington Animal Shelter, Heath said “I never gave up, but I thought someone would fall in love with him and want to keep him.”
The Johnson sisters saw the dog Monday with two boys across the street from their shop, Turquoise Vintage, near 39th and Hiawatha. The boys said they’d found the dog wandering the streets and didn’t know what to do with him. Toni Johnson brought the dog home, gave him a bath and began an internet search.
She was alerted to stories of Baby’s disappearance and took Baby to the Bloomington Animal Shelter. Then Johnson got ahold of Heath and picked him up and brought him to the shelter for the reunion.
Baby’s adventure recalls the movie “Benji”: stolen from a cheap suburban motel, led away to a drug house, missing for two months. Several times, people helping to look for Baby sat outside known drug houses in south Minneapolis, handing out fliers or business cards. Baby finally was found roaming the streets. Too bad he wasn’t wearing a bodycam.
“I’m just excited to get these two back together,” said Toni Johnson, wiping away tears.
Since the Star Tribune first published a story about Heath’s search for the lost dog, readers have raised money for Heath and even helped him get much-needed heart surgery. An anonymous reader got Heath into the social system, and he is now in transitional housing and hopes to get approval to keep his dog.
Readers even offered a reward for the dog, but Toni Johnson said it will be donated to lostdogsmn.com, where they first posted news that Baby had been found.
At times Wednesday, Heath seemed overcome with emotion as Baby snuggled and licked his face.
“Are you happy, boy? Yeah. Did you think I forgot you?”
Follow Jon on Twitter: @jontevlin