When Penny Blackwell came home from work on the evening of Sept. 25, her visiting parents told that her two golden retrievers, 4-year-old Baxter and 6-year-old Bailey, were missing.
Her initial reaction was not one of surprise.
"I said, 'Oh, well, you know, they've gone missing before,' and they said, 'They've been missing since 10 o'clock this morning,' and I said, 'Oh, boy, that's not good,'" Blackwell of Sandwich, Mass., said Thursday.
Blackwell's husband had taken the dogs swimming that morning, then put them on a double leash and left them outside for a few minutes. When he came back, they were gone.
She looked for the dogs for days, and posted announcements on Facebook.
"People brought their dogs to help try sniff them out and just had absolutely no luck at all," she said.
A week went by. Then two. Still no word.
On Saturday, while Blackwell was away at a conference, she received a text from a good friend. The text read: "Give me a call I think I have one of your dogs and I was like, 'Wow, really?'" she said.
Through a series of fortunate events, Baxter had found his way to the home of a man who knew Blackwell's friend.
Blackwell picked Baxter up Monday, but couldn't find Bailey. Baxter was tired, so Blackwell took him home to rest.
The next day, she took Baxter back to the home where he had been found. Behind the house was a trail leading into the woods.
"So I thought, 'Hmm, I wonder,' so we went back up that trail," Blackwell said. "We were just kind of walking along and all of a sudden Baxter started to guide me off the trail and into the really, really thick woods and there was poor old Bailey, his leashed all tangled up in the bushes with Baxter's collar hanging off the other end," she said. "The poor thing. He was so happy to see me I could barely get his leash untied. He was trying to jump all over me and lick me. It was quite the reunion."
Both dogs were checked by a vet and were fine after their adventure, she said.
Blackwell got Bailey as a puppy as a birthday present from her husband, who adopted Baxter later.
She's grateful for how the story ended.
"I had truly lost hope that I would ever see them again and I just think it's amazing that I got them back and I really think that if it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't have gotten them back," she said. "Everybody that saw that on Facebook was messaging me, texting me, calling me offering to help. The support was just unbelievable, from total strangers."
As for her wandering dogs, Blackwell said she's considering outfitting them with GPS collars.