On Christmas Eve 2014, Betty Trodgon was on her way to Hartsville to board her dogs for the holiday. Then she was set to head to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to spend time with family.
But a car accident halted her plans. The accident was bad, and her son John Trogdon said her van was totaled.
Of the three dogs that were in the van at the time of the accident, only one, Charlie Brown, ran away.
“Charlie was petrified,” Betty Trogdon said. “He went in the opposite direction.”
She said Charlie, a Lab-shepherd mix, ran across a field into a wooded area.
By the time Betty Trogdon was done filing police reports and other information concerning the car accident, it was well into the afternoon.
She and her son Michael went back out to post signs in hopes that someone would see Charlie Brown. Christmas passed and Betty Trogdon devoted her time to finding Charlie.
“I went out every day. For about two months I went out,” she said. “I might miss a day, and then go back out for about two or three.”
Betty Trogdon searched and searched, but couldn’t find Charlie, the dog she once rescued from a drainage pipe near the Darlington Post Office nine years ago. She said several community members called and helped her in the search.
“There were so many people who would call her and would say, ‘I think I saw him. He was over in this point in Hartsville,’” said Betty’s granddaughter Emily Trodgon. “So she would go over and take water and food and constantly call him for hours.”
Still, no Charlie.
John Trodgon said he went out a lot in the evenings to look for Charlie, but he never showed. He began to lose hope.
“We did have a couple of sightings of dogs that looked just like him, but it wasn’t him,” John Trogdon said.
Emily Trogdon said her grandmother was so sad about the loss of Charlie that she took another dog into her home. John Trogdon said his mother began to accept that Charlie wasn’t coming home.
Of all of her dogs, Charlie was her favorite, Emily Trodgon said. She rescued him nine years ago when he was a puppy. The children of the family would ride him like a horse, and Charlie even assisted Betty Trodgon’s great-granddaughter in learning to walk.
“When my granddad was sick and dying, (Charlie) would sit beside him and my nanny and not leave their side,” Emily Trogdon said. “He was just an integral part of the family.”
He was missing until Aug. 2, over seven months after he vanished into the woods.
“I walk my three dogs in the morning for a short walk about 8 in the morning,” Betty Trogdon said. “And when I got back, Charlie was standing in the back yard.”
Betty Trogdon said she looked and saw the thin brown down standing in her yard, but it didn’t quite register at first. The other dogs didn’t even recognize him.
“And it was Charlie Brown. And he came in and just jumped on the doggy couch and was just so happy to be home,” Betty Trogdon said.
Charlie isn’t the type of dog to go with other people, so Betty Trogdon said she knows he walked home from Hartsville. John Trogdon said he believes Charlie’s walk home had something to do with a dog’s great sense of smell.
Once home, Charlie was nursed back to health, gradually.
“It’s so rare. I think it’s just a testament to how animals have hearts and they have souls, and they love you just as much and you love them,” Emily Trogdon said. “My nanny is one of the most loving and caring people on this planet. Her missing dog traveled seven months to come back home.”
John Trogdon said his mother is the dog whisperer of Darlington. Charlie has been home for a few weeks now, and is back to normal.
“We just missed him so much,” Betty Trogdon said. “I’m so glad he’s back.”