Army Sgt. Vincent Sotello arrives in Fresno today to start a four-day holiday leave. His Christmas wish? For his family and friends to greet him with his 3-year-old husky, Dallas.
Unless a Christmas miracle happens in the hours just before Sotello's plane lands, Dallas won't be there to welcome him home. The dog ran away Nov. 21 -- and despite a month-long search has not been found.
"I am truly saddened by my dog being gone," Sotello said. "Since I have been deployed overseas since last January I haven't been able to see my family or my dog in over a year, and I was looking forward to being with everyone including my beloved dog Dallas this holiday season."
The dog was a gift to Sotello's fiancée, Gabriella Rivera, three Christmases ago. They named her Dallas because Sotello is a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas generally stays in Loma Linda with Rivera, who is going to school there to be a physical therapist. Rivera brought Dallas to Fresno for a Thanksgiving holiday at Rivera's family home near Cedar and Ashlan avenues, and that's when Dallas ran away.
The efforts to find Dallas include Sotello hiring pet detective Karyn TarQwyn. Since 2005, TarQwyn has worked full time assisting pet owners in locating missing pets and has pioneered the art of "K9 Profiling." She's currently based in Lodi.
Dallas has been spotted several times over the past month on the east side of Highway 180, and she appears to be moving in a northeast direction. TarQwyn estimated Dallas has covered about four miles a day.
"We are always behind the dog," said TarQwyn. "Huskies are a roaming dog, so it is common for them to travel this far."
The search has gone from the intersection of Chestnut and Clinton avenues to Highway 180 and Clovis Avenue. Along with tracking Dallas by using TarQwyn's search dogs, the family has placed posters at the last known location in hopes someone will spot Dallas and make a soldier's holiday wish come true.
"We received some calls about sightings of Dallas but none of them have led us to her. Although it is possible for someone to currently have Dallas in their possession, we are being hopeful that she will be returned to us or found roaming around," Sotello said.
A reward is being offered for the return of Dallas. If you have any information, call (559) 259-7532 or (559) 284-0700 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sotello returns to duty in Ft. Eustis, Va., after Christmas. He hopes his holiday wish comes true and that he will get to see Dallas before he leaves.