It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a ... Flying Chihuahua?

Michigan couple says high winds blew their dog away from them.

April 28, 2009, 12:30 PM

April 28, 2009— -- It's a story right out of "The Wizard of Oz" except the setting is Michigan, not Kansas.

Bystanders at a Detroit-area flea market were stunned this weekend when high winds from a passing storm picked up a couple's Chihuahua puppy and blew her out of sight.

After two days of searching and consulting with a pet psychic, Tinkerbell was found almost a mile away in the woods dirty but unharmed.

Her owner's name? Dorothy.

"We were shocked when we found her," Dorothy Utley, 72, told The Detroit News. "You don't know how happy we were. We love her so much."

Joe Goldberg, manager of the Dixieland Flea Market in Waterford Township, where the Utleys are regular vendors, said he saw Tinkerbell, weighing about 6 pounds, blow away when he went outside to survey the damage wrought by the hurricane-force wind gusts.

"I saw a flash," he told "It lifted off. Gone."

A Rottweiler sitting nearby, he said, didn't budge.

"This dog was picked up at least 60 feet," he said. "It's just a fluke."

Goldberg said he has since reviewed the flea market's surveillance cameras for evidence of the incident, but none were trained on that spot at the instant Tinkerbell blew away. meteorologist Carrie McCabe told that strong storms in what she called a "bow echo" shape did pass through that area late morning into early afternoon Saturday, causing wind gusts of 65 to 70 mph in some places.

Although she couldn't say whether that would be enough to launch a Chihuahua into the air, McCabe said that, for comparison, tornado-force winds can start at 40 to 72 mph. Category 1 hurricane winds, she said, range from 74 to 95 mph.

The flea market's Goldberg said, "So much stuff was destroyed. We worked for two days cleaning stuff up."

And yet, he said, some fellow vendors closed up shop for the day to help the Utleys search for their dog, losing what amounted to a day's pay.

"She said, 'Oh my God, my dog blew away,' and 40 people ran over," Goldberg said.

Searching for Tinkerbell

Chuck Myers, another Dixieland vendor, said he was at his booth inside the market -- the Utleys sell outside -- when the storm blew through. As he went out to survey the damage, he heard about what had happened to Tinkerbell.

So he picked up Dorothy Utley in his truck and the two drove off in search of her dog, stopping to tell nearby park visitors and residents about what had happened in case they saw something.

"No way did I ever think they'd find the dog," Myers said, adding that he thought someone took her home or that she'd been killed.

Utley, he said, " was very concerned. She was talking about all the joy she brought to her life."

Tinkerbell, Goldberg said, had filled a void for the Utleys left by the deaths of their three sons.

Now that Tinkerbell is safe and sound, Goldberg said he expects her to become the flea market's newest attraction. "She'll probably be a celebrity forever," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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