CHESHIRE — It’s been about a month since the Artes family was reunited with their beloved four-legged companion — an affable, easy-going English bulldog named Charlie.
Charlie, who the Prospect family had taken with them for a July 3 fireworks show in Shelton, broke free from his harness that night, scared by the loud sounds.
“I ran after him,” John Artes recalled. “But It was so dark out I ended up not being able to see him.”
Charlie was missing for 35 days, until he was reunited with his family early last month.
His family searched during the time Charlie was gone, placing posters throughout Shelton and elsewhere, posting photos on social media and even doing interviews on area television stations. The family had almost given up hope, until early last month, when a couple in Shelton spotted Charlie in a stream behind the Wal-Mart store on Bridgeport Avenue.
“They called the Shelton animal control. And they [animal control] called me, and said, ‘I think we found your dog, he looks just like your poster.’ I freaked out,” Artes said.
Artes’ in-laws live in Shelton. They visited the animal shelter and confirmed it was Charlie. He had lost a significant amount of weight — 19 pounds. But Charlie was otherwise healthy and happy to be reunited with his family, Artes said.
Charlie is normally docile and not scared of loud sounds, like thunderstorms.
“So we didn’t think he would get scared of the fireworks,” Artes said. “Unfortunately, of course, he did get scared of the fireworks.”
To celebrate, the owners of The Cheshire Cat and Dog Too, 1320 Waterbury Road, planned a party on Sunday in Charlie’s honor. The event was also a way for the Artes family to say thank you to the community, who John Artes said, “has done so much for us, helping find Charlie,” who is now one year and three months old.
“So many people wanted to meet Charlie,” Artes said, adding he is grateful to Heather and Howard Bearz, the store’s owners, for wanting to host it.
“Everyone is excited Charlie was found,” Howard Bearz said. “We wanted to have a big party.”
Heather Bearz said she’s seen Charlie in the store a couple of times since his return.
“He looks good. He’s back to his normal weight,” she said.
Artes described being reunited with Charlie as being one of the happiest days in his life, other than when his children were born and his wedding day.
“It’s amazing that Charlie survived. It was so hot during that time period. Him finding that stream and staying there saved his life,” Artes said.