Video: Middletown's 'Gentle Giant' Bulldog Is Local Hero to Other Missing Pups
Middletown resident Carl Lokey and his American bulldog, Dozer, have reunited six missing area dogs with their owners since Lokey adopted the shelter dog more than two years ago.
Middletown resident Carl Lokey has come to learn a few key things about the 110-pound American bulldog he adopted from the Potter League For Animals shelter more than two years ago.
First off, it's more likely the dog was named "Dozer" for his love of sleep and lolling about, than for tearing through anything like a bulldozer.
Also, Dozer has a knack for bringing about the safe return of lost dogs.
In fact, he's so good at it that by word-of-mouth around town, Dozer so far has been enlisted in six missing dog cases. In all six cases, Dozer got his man or, rather, man's best friend.
"I never trained him to do this. He just does it," Lokey said with a shrug, while Dozer, who turned three years old on Monday, played nearby in a dog park with various four-legged friends of all sizes and colors. "Every dog breed is known for something or has a particular trait, or was bred to do a specific job. The American bulldog is known to be a protector, so maybe it's just ingrained in him?"
Lokey's general working theory is that Dozer's love for other dogs, combined with his size and desire to protect, makes him an instant friend and authority to other dogs.
A sort of dog whisperer who happens to be a dog.
"He's a gentle giant," said Lokey, who formerly worked for the Potter League. "At the dog park, he'll intervene if other dogs are fighting. He'd never harm another dog. Big dogs, little dogs, it doesn't matter. They all just love him too."
Lokey and Dozer's latest successful rescue took place Friday, when they recovered a missing beagle named Abby, who had been on the lam for more than a week in the YMCA area after she ran from her new owner during a walk. Abby was later spotted along the banks of the reservoir behind the Sea Whale Motel and Paradise Cleaners, but neither the town's animal control officer nor Abby's new owner were able to calm the skittish beagle or approach close enough to capture her. The quick pooch would tear off on a run through thickets and keep her distance. The owner made attempts several times a day, every day, at all hours of the day and night for more than a week. As a last resort, animal control officers decided to set out a humane dog trap in the area.
That's when Lokey's neighbor mentioned reading about Abby's plight and Lokey and Dozer got to work. They made four trips to the area near the trap site over two days last week.
Finally on Friday morning, from a good distance away, Dozer caught site of some movement near the trap and set off running, with Lokey following.
By the time Lokey reached them, Dozer was standing over Abby protectively. Abby was rolled over on her back, showing her belly, Lokey recalled. He simply walked up and put a slip-collar on. She never attempted to make a break for it and seemed most comforted with Dozer by her side.
It was a similar case that got Dozer started in the search and recovery business in the first place.
A local dog named Zella had gone missing, but had been spotted on a local golf course. Given Lokey's previous work with the Potter League, a mutual contact between the dog's owner and Lokey asked him to help out with Zella. Lokey took Dozer to the golf course where they could see the dog from a distance. Dozer ran to Zella, approaching in a non-aggressive manner, and Zella instantly "submitted," Lokey recalled.
"When they submit, they either roll onto their back or they just drop," Lokey explained. "There's that hierarchy with dogs. I think because of Dozer's size, they just see him coming and instantly see him as the alpha dog and they submit right away. Then I just walk up and put a slip collar on. It's actually really easy."
If Lokey knows the general area where as dog has gone missing, he'll take Dozer there and look around, let Dozer off-leash and give the command "search." Sometimes Lokey hides a treat in the area beforehand, but generally Dozer just goes on alert. The rest of Dozer's process is a bit of a mystery. Sometimes Dozer catches the trail by scent and other times he sees the dog.
"I think he's more interested in just meeting them," Lokey theorized. "Now, I'll bring a shirt or bedding from the dog's home and he'll first smell it so he knows who he's looking for. And I'll say 'search' or 'Where's the doggie, Dozer? Go find the doggie.' And he does. He wants someone to play with."
In the case of another missing dog, Lokey let Dozer off-leash on a wooded trail.
Dozer emerged a short time later chasing after the missing dog.
"It's kind of cool," Lokey said with a laugh.
He rescued Dozer from the Potter League shelter when he was just 10 months old.
"I knew he was going to be a big dog because of his breed. I told him he could stay with me as long as he didn't eat the cat, and so far he hasn't eaten the cat, so it seems to all be working out," Lokey said with a laugh.
Lokey said he has not set off to find missing dogs for rewards or payment. In each case, he's been glad to help, he said, noting his love for animals.
Lokey also runs a small dog-walking and pet-sitting service of his own. For more information about Lokey, he can be reached at 401-846-3207.
To see more of Dozer, watch the video in the gallery above.