Birdie, a black and white English setter, is missing – and it’s tearing at John Best’s heart.
She’s not even his dog.
“She’s a very much -loved family pet as well as a good hunting dog,” Best said in a Monday phone conversation. “Her owners are very dear friends. She probably hunted with me more than them but even if it wasn’t a good hunting dog I’d be doing all I could to help find her.”
And that’s pretty difficult since Birdie is lost about six hours from his St. Louis home.
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Best, Jim Petersen – Birdie’s owner – and two friends were heading back to St. Louis from an Oklahoma quail hunt when they spent the night at a Wichita motel near I-135 and the turnpike.
The next morning, Jan. 17, one of the other friends opened a kennel door and Birdie and another setter owned by Petersen were off and running. A few hours later a Wichitan spotted the male and called the phone number on its collar. Best said they saw no signs of Birdie despite about six hours of hard searching.
One of the hunters spent that night at the motel in case Birdie returned to the scene of the escape. Maggie Petersen, Jim’s wife, has twice traveled from St. Louis to Wichita to search for Birdie, check animal shelters, post fliers and talk with locals.
She talked with someone who’d seen Birdie about a week after her escape. They’ve heard nothing since. Not knowing, Best said, is much of the problem.
He said Birdie was wearing a collar with ID information and implanted with an ID chip. If the dog was hit by a car Best figures someone would have called to let them know. Though he admits the odds are long he hopes somebody has simply adopted the sweet-tempered dog, figuring she was dumped. He’s hoping they find out she’s a beloved dog and contact Best or Petersen.
Best said he worries about the dog but also knows the pain his good friend, Petersen, is suffering. He also fears what impact current sadness could have on the friendship the four hunters have shared for several decades.
“It’s not only the loss of a very good dog,” he said. “this may well have altered a 30 year friendship. It’s pretty sad.”
Best is hoping people reading this share the information with others. Anyone with any information on Birdie can call John Best at 314-368-8429. Jim Petersen can be reached at 314-249-9353.