STOCKBRIDGE — When a big white dog resembling the abominable snowman showed up in the Windsong Plantation neighborhood in Stockbridge, residents didn’t know what to think.
The 2-year-old Great Pyrenees took up residency there in June. For months, neighbors tried to catch him.
The dog, named Oscar, fled to the area in June after his mom, Brook Bailey from McDonough, was in a car accident in front of Piedmont Henry Hospital. Oscar was in the car and ran when rescuers opened the vehicle’s door.
Bailey’s injuries were severe enough that medical officials transported her to Grady Memorial Hospital via helicopter. All that time she knew her dog had escaped and there was nothing she could do to help.
“Oscar got tossed around quite a bit in the accident,” Bailey said.
Bailey’s husband began distributing flyers in the area, letting people know about Oscar. The couple contacted animal control and used social media to spread the word about Oscar. Bailey checked the internet daily with the hope he had been spotted.
For five months, the Windsong community looked out for Oscar. They fed him, put out fresh water and watched from a distance as he made his daily rounds through the neighborhood to eat and play with their dogs.
Some were aware of Oscar’s story, but many just saw a dog in need and provided care, all the while he evaded capture.
That is until Claudia Alvarenga was able coax him into her home. Throughout the summer, the two got to know each other, eventually building enough trust that Oscar accompanied her into her house one day.
Unaware that Oscar was “wanted,” Alvarenga hoped to keep him. When she wasn’t able to, she called her friend and neighbor Mitzi Assing, asking for help. Not knowing Oscar had a family desperate for his return, Assing arranged for Oscar to be placed with the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Atlanta. However, before they would accept him, they told Assing she would have to turn him over to animal control for a mandatory hold.
“I didn’t want to do that,” Assing said. “This poor, sweet dog had been through so much and was just starting to trust. I hated to do it, but it turned out to have been the best possible thing for Oscar.”
When Oscar arrived at Henry County Animal Care and Control, Director Gerry Yoder and animal control officials knew who he was.
Bailey had stayed in touch with the facility, checking often with them for any Great Pyrenees dogs that had been picked up.
“My heart got so happy when I got the call from animal control,” Bailey said. “All that time he was gone I figured someone had taken him in. My only hope was that he was safe. I never expected to get him back.”
Bailey said she’s grateful for the Windsong community.
“They cared for him and helped out so much,” she said. “Oscar is such a sweetheart, and I’m really glad to have him home.”
Oscar was healthy, but had collected a whole lot of dirt, sticks and bugs in his thick coat that had become matted.
“We shaved him down and he’s doing really well,” Bailey said.
Bailey said she’s still recovering from her accident. In July, she suffered a stroke and is getting by “day-by-day,” but having Oscar home is a big help.
“It’s rare when something so good comes out of something so bad like the car accident,” she said. “I really never thought I’d have him home again. He’s a big part of our family, and I’m so happy.”
As for the Windsong community, many were expressing their joy on the neighborhood Nextdoor website.
“I’m so happy for a bit of good news! Kind people make the world a better place!” said Sheila Hall.
Susana Kyle called great neighbors “priceless.” Others exclaimed, “Hallelujah!”
Daniel Thomas was happy Oscar was finally home, but said he was going to miss the “ghost” in the neighborhood.
Assing said the care, loving and eventual capture of Oscar was a “beautiful community effort.”
“We all came together and so many people came to love him,” she said. “We’re glad he’s home with his crew. It was the best ending for everyone.”
To celebrate Oscar’s rescue and return, the Windsong community held a special reception for Bailey, Oscar and her family on Saturday. Residents got the chance to meet his mom and pet the big white dog who had become a part of their lives.