By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

A lot of the work I do for the Gazette is built upon informing or helping others in the community. This publication has provided a means for local voices to share their stories, and while I know this service has grown in reach over nearly two years, I suppose I didn’t truly grasp what I’ve created until I needed it myself.

Last week, my dog, Stardust, went missing.

It was an accident. A gate left open during landscaping, but nevertheless, my dog saw that as an opportunity to have a “grand adventure” at the cost of a few more grey hairs for me.

I had no idea any of this had taken place. I was in Dallas getting ready to attend my nephew’s birthday. I literally turned off my car in front of my sister’s house when the Missus called with the news. It would have taken me over an hour to get back home. A lot can happen in an hour.

I run a regular alert on the Gazette’s social media called “Lost Pet Alert.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: Either people contact me, or I find a pet owner in immediate need. I’ve sent out alerts for dogs, cats, birds, and once even a lost pig. The shares of such stories are often generous. I’ve heard from some of the owners the Gazette has helped in finding their lost pet. Personally, nothing makes me happier to hear. It shows how news, when used properly, can be effective.

And now here I was, forced to write an alert for myself. It was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever had to type.

I was still finding places to share the alert wherever I could when I got the call from an unfamiliar phone number. It’s a strange mix of hope mixed with a sinking stomach. We live by two busy roads where cars regularly race down the streets well past the speed limit.

“We found your dog,” the woman over the phone said. “We saw your post, and the photo matched her (Stardust’s) description.” Within thirty minutes of making the post, Stardust was back home with the Missus, the dog later described to me as happily panting and looking like she had a wonderful time.


That little jerk.

Stardust had a great experience. My stress level did not. – Family photo

But I’m happy to be able to jokingly call my terrier escapee a “jerk.” To find a moment of humor at the end of this particular story. I know not all of these stories end happily, and the losses affect me more than I publicly let on, because I hate failing people. But I keep trying.

Last week’s events have left me with a lot to think about, and has changed perspective about how I view *motions to the site* all of this. I’ve always wanted the creation to be bigger than the creator. I do this publication for other people as a means to help make where I live a better place. Sometimes, it actually works.

I didn’t expect the Gazette to help me in a time of need. I realize the site has outgrown my earliest goals, and it’s definitely not about me. It’s about the people that support it. Or share it. Or simply read it. It’s become a community built off of friends and people I’ve yet to meet or know their name. It’s a community of “Us.”

A stranger helped my family from having a bad weekend, and I need to ensure that experience will be available for others who stop by to see what the Gazette is all about. It goes without saying the pet alerts will continue, but I think it’s time to expand the concept and see where else we can best help the place we call home.

I’m open to ideas as we explore new options.

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