RYE, N.Y. -- This past Sunday, the Pagnani family of Rye celebrated Father's Day, their daughter Kristy's 13th birthday and the return of their beloved golden retriever, Kooper.
The 11-month old Kooper was found by Deanna Miller, a Harrison resident who heard barking in her backyard. His leash got stuck on a tree in the wooded area near the Hutchinson River Parkway. The woman's children recognized him from media reports and social media, prompting the woman to call the Harrison police.
"The police said 'We have your dog,'" Keith Pagnani told Daily Voice. "I said, 'How do you know that?' They said, 'We've got officers in the field and we've confirmed that the tags have your cell phone number on it.'"
The family had offered a $500 reward, but the woman who found Kooper asked that money be given to the Harrison EMS. The Pagnanis also gave $500 to the Harrison Police Department.
Keith said they could not be happier to have Kooper back. However, he was found in rough shape.
"He was hungry," Pagnani said. "He was skinny. He was dirty. But we brought him to the vet that night, got him checked out and he's doing well. (We're) introducing food back to him slowly because his stomach shrunk up a bit so he really can't handle a lot at once."
Kooper had been missing for eight days after he ran away June 7 during a fireworks display at Westchester Country Club.
"He basically just bolted," Keith said. "Right then we started that search, 15 hours a day looking for that guy."
This past Saturday, June 14, around 120 people got together to search for the missing dog with no luck.
Then, Sunday night Keith, who was searching with his wife in Port Chester at the time, said they received the good news from Harrison police.
After taking him to the vet, the Pagnani family went home, had a father's day celebration, birthday cake for Kristy and, "We finally all got some sleep."
Keith said they have had Kooper for about eight months. Before that all of their dogs in the last 25 years have been from the same breeder.
"It's from the same line, it's a very similar dog, in terms of disposition," he said. "it feels like we've had the same dog for 25 years."
The Pagnani family patriarch said they benefited from the social media blitz.
"It was incredible," he said. "The community support was outstanding. People we didn't even know. It struck a chord."
Since Kooper returned, people who have been following his story have sent dog food, play toys and other items to the family's home.