Blind man’s missing guide dog found in Vancouver

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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A visually impaired Vancouver man was reunited with his missing guide dog Monday after the dog wandered off early Sunday morning.

Blake Hardin, 28, was sitting on the porch of his house, 2500 E. Evergreen Blvd., about 1:30 a.m. Sunday when he went inside to put something away without his guide dog, Beethoven, a 10-year-old Labrador retriever with a white coat.

About a half an hour later, he realized Beethoven wasn’t by his side and so went outside to get him, only to find him missing.

“I walked around the neighborhood for a couple hours seeing if he would come, yelling his name,” Hardin said. “He’s gotten out before, but this is an unfamiliar area. This is not my home.”

Hardin and Beethoven moved to Vancouver from Alabama earlier this year so Hardin could attend the School of Piano Technology for the Blind.

Hardin is visually impaired and relies on Beethoven to get around. After the Lab went missing, he reached out to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington and Clark County Animal Protection and Control.

He and his friends made fliers and put them up in the area, hoping that someone would find and return Beethoven.

Search-and-rescue dogs also scoured the area, said Cheri Martin, the school’s executive director.

Hardin said that Beethoven wasn’t wearing his guide dog vest and was wearing a chain without any tags, so Hardin worried about where the dog would end up.

But before Hardin went through another night of worry, social media helped connect Beethoven with his handler.

The dog had reportedly wandered to the 1300 block of Z Street, where someone had taken Beethoven in. A neighbor soon recognized the dog from a story posted to The Columbian’s Facebook page and notified the family.

Soon after learning the news, Martin drove Hardin to the residence less than a mile away to bring Beethoven home.

“I’m definitely happy he’s back and happy he was safe and nothing happened to him,” Hardin said.