By MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
TRAVERSE CITY — When Carter Kassab visited his grandmother recently with the new beagle mix his family adopted from a dog rescue facility, Linda Kassab did a double-take.
"I saw that collar and said, 'It couldn't be,'" said Linda Kassab, who recognized the collar as one that was on a dog she rescued more than a year ago and took to a different shelter. "Who has a powder blue collar?"
Linda Kassab said she was driving to a garage sale on Harry's Road in July 2011 when the dog walked in front of her truck. With traffic on the road heavy, she stopped to pick up the dog, which wore a powder blue Martha Stewart collar without tags, and drove it to a nearby house. When no one answered the door, she brought the dog to the Cherryland Humane Society.
Fast-forward to August 2012, when Carter, 9, of Elmwood Township, found a dog named Moses on an online database of adoptable pets and went with his dad to see him. The small beagle mix with the distinctive blue collar was living at the Pine Cone Farm dog rescue facility on Harry's Road, just outside Traverse City.
"It was love at first sight," said Linda Gottwald, owner of the rescue farm. "The boy loved Moses and Moses loved the boy."
It wasn't until a few weeks later, after Carter and dad Jeff Kassab adopted the well-mannered, eager-to-please dog, that Linda Kassab began to put two-and-two together.
"Carter came over with the dog to visit. I was in and out doing stuff so it was four hours later when I sat down and really looked at him," said Linda Kassab, of Lake Ann. "My daughter-in-law called to check in with Carter and I said, 'Where'd you get the dog?' and she said, 'Pine Cone Farm on Harry's Road.' I said, 'Where's that?' I never even knew it was there."
After calling Gottwald to tell her the story, Linda Kassab learned that Moses had indeed gone missing from the rescue farm back in July 2011.
"We'd only had him for a few weeks and I came home one day and I couldn't find him," said Gottwald, who had just returned from the store and presumed the dog had squeezed between the pickets in her fence. "I went crazy, looking in the corn fields for him. Most people around here, if they find an escapee, they know it's mine. So I thought maybe, maybe someone had picked him up and taken him to Cherryland. Sure enough, I called Cherryland and they had him. They only had him for a few hours and they'd already given him a new name. He was already up for adoption."
Gottwald reclaimed the dog and took him back to her rescue farm, where she later adopted him out to a local family. But after a year the family returned him, claiming he was an "escape artist." That's when Carter and his family came along.
"I wanted a new dog and he was going to be mine," said Carter, a Willow Hill Elementary School fourth-grader and a fan of the movie "Underdog," which stars a diminutive beagle named Shoeshine.
Now the two are inseparable, playing fetch, working on tricks like jumping, and taking walks on the nearby TART Trail. Moses, whose new middle name is "Ten Commandments," even sleeps on Carter's bed.
"Whenever Carter leaves the room, Moses howls," said Maya Kassab, Carter's mom.
So far, the mellow beagle shows no inclination to wander off again, Maya Kassab said. But just in case, Moses now wears dog tags. And he's never left unsupervised in the family's fenced backyard.
For the two Lindas, it's finally a mystery solved.
"I always wondered who picked him up," Gottwald said.