NORTH ADAMS -- About two months after watching a lonely dog wandering across a snow covered field, Fran and Phyllis Gaule are happy to be the adopters of that wandering dog.
Her name is Maya, and she was the subject of an intense dog hunt for seven months after she wandered away from her owner last July in Adams.
Fran Gaule, a retired electrician, had been following the search for Maya on Facebook, but didn't realize it was the same dog.
Eventually though, as Maya kept wandering through the field, he realized who she was and contacted North Adams Animal Control Officer Carrie Loholdt.
They set up a feeding schedule to bring Maya closer to his house.
"We left out some food every night, and she had to have a stuffed toy," Fran Gaule said. "She would stop by, chow down the food, grab the stuffed toy and take off into the woods."
Eventually, the search team successfully trapped the smallish hound dog and brought her to Hinsdale veterinarian Dr. Keith Beebe for recuperation and treatment.
Then, at the beginning of last week, the Gaules brought Maya home for good.
Now Maya is settled in, and getting along famously with her new family, which includes miniature poodle Ollie and beagle Toughie. She has settled in on the couch, which has become her new throne.
At night, "she climbs into bed before I do," said Phyllis Gaule. "She snuggles right up."
After getting over the new intruder's presence, Toughie and Ollie have bonded with Maya, and often play together with, that's right, stuffed toys.
"She's got a whole bag of stuffed toys," Fran Gaule said.
When she was brought to Dr. Beebe's office, Maya was skinny and had a limp, suffering from worms and Lyme disease.
Since then, medication has beaten back the disease and her limp has disappeared.
"We thought she'd be skiddish, but she's as nice as could be," Fran Gaule said. "Now she's content to eat -- she eats a lot -- and to sleep on the couch."
The Gaules take special precautions when it's time to go out. She wears at least two leashes, in case one slips.
"We've got to be careful for a while," Fran Gaule noted. "If she got away again, the community would kill us -- she's not our dog, she is the community's dog. She's just boarding with us."
Maya has had a few visitors -- people that had been feeding her and following her misadventures on Facebook.
"You can't blame the people interested in Maya," Fran Gaule said. "People were praying for her and looking for her all winter long."
And she has plenty of food. After Maya was adopted, food donations came rolling in. Included in the donations was plenty of canned salmon, which she has been eating all winter thanks to the volunteers and searchers.
"People were so wonderful," Phyllis Gaule said. "Tractor Supply Store donated five cases of dog food and treats."
Nowadays, she doesn't chow down her food like she did in the wild.
"I think she knows she doesn't need to rush it anymore," Fran Gaule said. "And I give her a lot -- she needs to put a little weight on."
So after seven months on the run through one of the coldest winters in memory, Maya is living a pampered life, sleeping on the couch, playing with her friends and her toys, and eating salmon everyday.
"I'm so glad she made it through the winter," Phyllis Gaule said. "She's really laid back. A very good dog."
And maybe someday, somebody will find Maya's hidden cache of stuffed toys somewhere in the woods of North Adams.
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