Please Help Find Deceased Truck Driver’s Family Find Missing Dog

Missing Dog

This is an article from The Tampa Bay Times.  It’s about a truck driver who recently passed away while out on the road.  After he passed away, a fellow truck driver offered to drive the man’s dog home to Utah.  The truck driver was walking the little dog when he got loose at a Tampa-area Walmart. Please read this article and let others know about this story.

TAMPA — On a stretch of Nebraska highway last week, a woman lost her husband. Thirteen grown children lost their father. And a tiny dog named Taz lost his way.

Home was Salt Lake City, but Taz had a job. He rode shotgun beside Larry Wright, 68, a long-haul truck driver who plucked him from puppyhood six years ago and showed him America.

They seemed right for each other. Wright, a retired jockey, weighed 118 pounds. Taz, a miniature pinscher, weighed no more than 6.

They were inseparable until last week when Wright, who hadn’t been feeling well, parked the rig on the side of the road. He left the window cracked. He got out, walked a few steps and collapsed.

The phone rang in Mesquite, Nev., where Wright’s wife of 28 years, Kairle, was staying with her sick father. The officer told her Wright had suffered a massive heart attack. He was not expected to survive.

“Where’s his dog?” she remembers asking.

“I have him,” the officer said. Taz was bunking with police dogs.

Almost nothing was in Kairle’s hands. There she was in Nevada, her dying husband air-lifted to a Colorado heart hospital, his truck and cargo and their dog in Nebraska.

She didn’t know if her husband even heard her voice when the nurse held the phone to his ear. She missed his last breath.

“He was the love of my life,” she said.

She couldn’t bring him back.

But she knew instantly what she could do. Get Taz.

• • •

From the trucking world came an offer of help.

A trucker in Cheyenne, Wyo., who had known Wright, would drive Taz out of Nebraska.

At first, Kairle thought the trucker, whom she knew only as Rocco, was headed west from Florida. It was the opposite: He was headed east to Brandon, where he had a load to deliver to the Walmart store at 1208 E Brandon Blvd.

Before she knew it, Taz was en route to Florida. Rocco called from the road with updates.

The calls consoled Kairle, 57, as she took care of other matters.

She found someone to haul her husband’s stranded payload to Tennessee.

She arranged his cremation, and the family planned a wake with Wright’s favorite Elvis music. They wrote an obituary. Taz was mentioned before any other relative.

Born Aug. 22, 1943. Died July 18, 2012. While driving his semi truck, accompanied by his faithful companion Taz …

Everyone wanted Taz to come home.

“He’s the only thing left of my Dad,” said Wright’s daughter, Sherri, 46, of Boise, Idaho. “Any warmth that is left of my Dad’s life is in this dog.”

Wright’s ashes arrived home on Tuesday.

That same day, the phone rang again. It was a call from Rocco the trucker.

“How’s my dog? Is he eating better?” Kairle asked.

“I lost him,” came the response.

Outside the Brandon Walmart, Taz had slipped out of his collar and raced away.

The trucker searched. He called Animal Services. Volunteer Nancy Latimer tried to help. Kairle made sure Taz’s microchip file was up to date. The Wright children posted ads on Craigslist. They started a Facebook page called Help Get Taz Home.

None of it worked.

On Wednesday, Kairle wrote this on Facebook:

I miss you, Larry. Please, honey, you got to help me get through this. Help me find Taz. If you are listening, help me. It’s like losing you all over again.

Finally, it came to Kairle.

She put off her husband’s memorial service.

“My whole life has changed,” she said. “If I don’t do this, I can’t go forward. My husband never quit on me in 28 years of marriage. He never quit on me and I can’t quit on him.”

• • •

It is Saturday.

The morning will bring planeloads of travelers to Tampa International Airport, each with a purpose.

One woman will arrive after three flights and 11 hours of overnight travel from Utah.

She plans to go to the parking lot of a Walmart 2,300 miles from her home.

She plans to call out the name of a dog, hoping her voice will make a difference.

“This little dog, he deserves to be home with us,” she said.

“I deserve to have him home with me.”

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Staff writer Patty Ryan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382. By Patty Ryan, Times Staff Writer

Have you seen Taz?

Taz, shown with Larry Wright, his owner who died last week, is about 6 years old, weighs about 4 to 6 pounds and has a microchip. He has not been neutered. He’s black and brown, with white spots on his chest.

He was last seen outside the Brandon Walmart, 1208 E Brandon Blvd.

Kairle Wright can be reached at (801) 671-7886. She’ll be in the Walmart area searching on Saturday.