CRESTVIEW — When Buster and Belle come home, they usually bound from the car to the front door. However, unfamiliar with their new home in northeast Crestview, Courtney and Aaron Huffstutler’s pooches bolted into the woods after a day outing.
Giving more meaning to “home delivery,” a pair of nearby Papa John’s Pizza employees helped reunite the dogs with their anxious owners Thursday morning.
“We took them to the beach Sunday and we pulled back up to the house,” said Aaron Huffstutler, who last week moved to Crestview from Gadsden, Ala., with his spouse, Courtney. “For ten years, they usually run straight to the house. I opened the car door and, this time, they bolted straight to the woods.”
“We’ve only been here a week,” Aaron said. “We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know anybody.”
After three days, Buster, a Staffordshire and Labrador mix, and Belle — “she’s kind of a mutt,” Aaron said — were found late Wednesday night by Miranda Garnett and her boss, Scott Winstead.
“She found them all the way over on Airport (Road),” Courtney Huffstutler said. “She knew she better pick them up because that’s a dangerous road.”
“Miranda was on her way to work and I had just got off my shift,” Winstead said. “I helped her get them into the car. Buster was huge! We drove around trying to find someone who lost the dogs. Miranda felt bad enough for them and she wanted to do the right thing. I had just lost my dog recently so I know how they (the Huffstutlers) must feel.”
While Garnett took Buster and Belle home to Baker for safekeeping, Winstead, who had taken photos of the dogs, worked on “found dogs” posters. Aaron Huffstutler worked on posters of his own.
“I put out over 200 fliers around town and put it on Craigslist,” he said. “It’s funny, because I told my wife and she said if I had put on the flier there was an eight-month pregnant lady looking for the dogs, there’d be an APB (all points bulletin) out all over town.”
Courtney, expecting the couple’s first child in January, said her husband’s fliers and website posting paid off.
“(Wednesday) night about 10:30, a lady over in Baker called and said, ‘I know it’s late and I’m sorry, but I got your dogs,’” Aaron said.
Winstead said Garnett’s rescue was typical of her caring nature.
“Miranda is such a sweet girl,” he said. “She’s always trying to help out people.”
The dogs seemed excited to reunite with the couple the next morning, Aaron said.
“Oh my Jesus, they ran around and around for an hour, I think,” he said.
Aaron Huffstutler said the experience has been a crash course in discovering the warmth of their new hometown.
“I met a lot of good people since this happened,” he said. “Everybody we talked to promised to look out for the dogs. One older man said he’d keep an eye out for them during his morning walk.”
As for the adventurous dogs, Buster and Belle won’t be quite as free to explore on their own outdoors.
“I promise you, from now on, I’m hooking them to their leashes and they aren’t running to the house on their own any more,” Aaron said. “I learned my lesson.”
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.