On July 21, around 2:15 in the afternoon, Zeek, a 9-month-old German Sheperd puppy was playing with a few other dogs at the Zemke farm up in the Agency Plains outside of Madras, while his owner, Greg Fletcher, and Ron Zemke were visiting.
Fletcher said they went inside for a glass of water and when they returned, Zeek was gone.
The pair began to search for the puppy, but little did Fletcher know that the next few days of searching would turn into a story about the character of a farming community.
"He's a puppy and it's on me. You just feel guilty; it's like losing a kid," Fletcher said. "I had to find him."
Fletcher, who lives in Culver, drove out to the area and spent two-to-three hour shifts searching for Zeek on the Plains, while Zemke also searched around asking neighbors. Fletcher said that when it was all said and done he had spoken with nearly 20 different people across the farms in the area.
"This is farm time; the clock is ticking and they still take time," said Fletcher. He said it was amazing that the farmers up there, at one of their busiest times, would still take time to talk with him and see what they could do to help.
He said he certainly could have been seen as a bother to some of them, coming back more than once to see if they had any more news for him, but he was so grateful for their help.
Word spread as the farmers called their friends and the story was posted on Facebook.
"Everybody is kind of watching out for each other," he said. "They're busy and yet they would give you a couple of minutes of the precious time they had."
Eventually, thanks to the help of the community, letting Fletcher know if and when they had seen the dog, he was able to track Zeek down three days later.
At the Chotard farm, Fletcher spoke with two guys who were out in a tractor. He said there was somewhat of a language barrier between the three of them, but despite that, the pair were able to tell Fletcher that they had seen the dog and lead him a little ways away from where they were, right to Zeek.
It was July 24, at 2:30, and Fletcher said that Zeek wasn't looking good. He had dropped about 10 pounds and was in need of food and water. But all the same, it was a huge relief to find him and Fletcher was thankful for everyone's help.
Zeek is back to his normal self now, after a couple of weeks, and Fletcher is happy to have him home.
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