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Dog-gone, Huck's been found

Mark Michaels is reunited with his hunting dog and pet, Huck. Huck ran away early Sunday morning after Michaels rolled the pickup the pair was traveling in. (Forum photo)

FARGO -- After three days of searching, Mark Michaels had lost hope.

He left the Fargo-Moorhead area Wednesday night to visit his mother in Minot, thinking he would never see his beloved hunting dog again.

Turns out, he just needed to sleep on it.

Huck the hunting dog showed up at a Clay County farmstead early Thursday morning, and by early afternoon Michaels had returned from Minot to claim his missing pet.

The 56-year-old from Burnsville, Minn., dropped to his knees and hugged the excited 2-year-old pooch, its wagging tail just a blur.

"Hello, baby," he gushed, then noticing a small gash on the dog's thigh. "Oh, you got a little dent on you, don't you? Yes, you do. Was that the barb that got you?"

"He looks pretty good. I thought he'd look a lot worse," Michaels said.

Huck got scared and ran off Sunday night after Michaels rolled his SUV while swerving to avoid a deer on Interstate 94 near Clay County 10. The dog initially jumped into his lap, but got spooked by the blood rushing out of Michaels' head from glass shards that hit him when his window shattered.

"He jumped out of the truck and looked back at me and just bolted," he said.

Michaels lost part of his scalp in the crash and needed more than 20 staples in his head, which was still bandaged Thursday.

When he got out of the hospital Monday, he started searching for Huck, knocking on farmstead doors and asking residents to keep an eye out for the dog. Strangers joined the search, putting in hundreds of miles, and even a helicopter was used.

One of the doors Michaels knocked on belonged to Mark and Sherri Anderson at 8413 120th St. S., about 10 miles southeast of Moorhead and half a mile from the crash site.

Michaels got a phone call from a dispatcher about 7 a.m. Thursday telling him a dog matching Huck's description was found.

Sherri Sanderson said her husband had walked their two collies when it was still dark outside Thursday morning. He was getting ready to leave for work when he looked out the garage door and spotted Huck about 10 feet away in the driveway, she said.

"He was barking a little bit, and since we've got lots of dog food, I got him a little bowl of dog food, and he came right in," she said. "And he was more than willing to come in."

Sanderson and her two children, Sarah, 14, and Luke, 13, kept the dog fed and entertained until Michaels rolled into the farmyard in his pickup about 1:30 p.m. Before greeting the dog, Michaels gave Sanderson a hug and thanked her profusely.

"A lot of people really were out looking for him, and he just happened to show up at our door," she said.

"Well, I thank you for hanging on to him -- very, very much," Michaels said.

"You're welcome," Sanderson said. "He's a sweetheart."

Huck is a Vizsla, an elite, expensive pointer-retriever that originated in Hungary. Michaels has owned the dog since it was a pup.

"He's like a Velcro dog. He's a house dog. He's not a kennel dog. He's a very loving dog, and he hunts. He loves to hunt," he said.

Huck will be sidelined for the rest of this hunting season. The dog yelped when Michaels grabbed a bump on its rump Thursday, and it could be a broken bone, he said.

"We gotta go see the vet right now," he said.

Michaels thanked community members who helped search for Huck and said he was "totally elated" when he heard the dog was alive.

The feeling carried into the reunion, as dog and master mauled each other with affection.

"I never thought this was going to happen," he said.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communciations Co. newspapers.