Molly and Savannah Todd knew when the daily 2 p.m. alarm went off that it was time to feed their dog and get ready for an afternoon nap. Henry, the English bulldog their family had for more than 18 months, helped the nearly 3-year-old autistic twins with lots of things like that. But now Henry is missing and Mary Todd, the twins’ mother, says the girls are not the same.
“They know he’s gone somewhere,” Mary said, noting that the girls have social disabilities and are non-verbal due to autism. “They would go get his food every morning because that’s part of their daily schedule – being autistic, schedules are a big part of our daily lives – so they’re missing him and they’re very concerned. They have signs they give you signaling they’re frustrated like banging their heads or putting their hands to their head.”
Henry has been missing since Aug. 6. That day, like they do every morning at the same time, the Todds put Henry out to use the restroom and have breakfast in their fenced yard on Peach Orchard Road in Southern Highland County. But they were in a rush that Sunday morning because they were going to a Cincinnati Reds game. They left home briefly and when they came back 20 to 30 minutes later Henry was gone.
“Which really kind of freaked us out a little bit because it almost seems like someone was watching because we do it the same every day,” Mary said.
There were no breaks in Henry’s fence. Half his food was gone, which is unusual because he usually gobbles it down. Ice cubes were still melting in his water bowl.
The Todds purchased Henry as puppy more than a year and a half ago when the twins were starting to crawl. They picked a bulldog because they were told bulldogs were gentle with kids, and Mary said Henry was a gentle as they come.
“We spent money to get the girls a dog they could grow up with and he turned into something amazing. It was like he was supposed to be there,” Mary said.
The more time the twins spent with Henry, Mary said, the more their world opened up. They played fetch with him in the house. They started interacting more with their therapist and making more eye contact with the family.
“They’d give him big hugs and kind of lean on him and they don’t even do that to us,” Mary said. “He has helped them come out of their shell a bit since we got him. They really miss him, and I think one of the hardest things as a parent of a non-verbal child is knowing something is wrong and you can’t do anything about it.”
Henry is an adult male and weighs about 80 pounds. He is colored white, black and tan. He has an a infection on his feet, which is not uncommon in bulldogs, and needs medication. He has a microchip, but is not neutered.
A lost dog poster the family had made says anyone who sees Henry should not chase, call or whistle at him because that could scare him and make him run away.
“I’m hoping someone will see this story and know that he belongs to our girls and will have the heart to give him back,” Mary said. “Our greatest fear is that he’s locked up in a cage somewhere and is not getting medication. I hope someone takes him to the vet, they scan his microchip, and we get him back.”
Mary said the family has been doing everything it can to find Henry. Their flyers, made by HelpingLostPets.com and LostDogsOhio.com, have been placed in most nearby towns. They have been on Fox 19 News. They have filed a report with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office. They have placed Henry’s story on Facebook and it has been shared across the country and internationally. They’ve had people offer to put up reward money.
Henry was large part of the twins’ daily schedule. They fed him when they got up, again at 2 p.m., and once more at 8 p.m. before they went to bed. But more than that, he was their friend and was opening them up to things they had never experienced before.
Mary says that if they could get him back, she believes it would lighten them up again.
Anyone with information can call Mary night or day at 937-402-1399.
“It’s sad to watch them go through their daily schedule and it’s not the consistency they’re used to having,” she said. “A piece of our family is gone and we need that piece back. He just made everything work really well.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.