PEKIN — A Pekin college student and her beloved dog were reunited this week, 36 hours after she watched Marley escape from her backyard, get struck by a car and bolt away in panic.
The 2-year-old pup is bruised but healthy. Amanda Tochalauski, 22, also is recovering from the ordeal, as she dwells on the lesson she can add to her mass communication studies.
Facebook worked faster and better than the hundreds of fliers Tochalauski taped to lamppost in a two-mile radius around her North Fifth Street home.
But in either case, it took a flock of Pekin citizens to help her find Marley.
“All of my neighbors were looking” for the large German shepherd-pitbull mix after she took off at about 9 p.m. Sunday, Tochalauski said. “It was amazing how everyone came together.”
Marley’s and her owner’s odyssey began when Tochalauski let her out into the backyard of the home she shares with her father and brother in the 500 block of North Fifth, then found moments later that the dog had somehow opened the yard’s fence gate. She ran outside, spotted Marley standing in the middle of Fifth and called for her.
“She turned around and she immediately got hit” by a car. It pinned her under its front bumper and pushed her about 20 feet before stopping.
“She got up running, went down Catherine Street and disappeared.”
With Tochalauski’s first shouts for her dog, “People came out, kids on bikes,” but three hours of search were fruitless.
After four hours of sleep, she was back on the streets, searching “nooks and crannies” as she posted 250 fliers. She stopped to attend a 6 p.m. college class, then searched again until midnight, when tornado-bearing storms swept in.
The communications student didn’t turn to Facebook that day because, she figured, her neighborhood is filled with older people who don’t follow social media.
A close friend corrected that mistake by contacting the city police department, which posted the flier carrying Tochalauski’s pleas for help, complete with Marley’s photo and phone numbers to call.
They were answered at 8 a.m. Tuesday, when golfers at Parkview Golf Course spotted a dog that looked like the one pictured on the Pekin Police Department’s Facebook page.
“I first saw it on Facebook” as well, said Steve Funk, golf superintendent for the Pekin Park District. “Then I saw one of the posters” on his way to work that morning.
When the golfers reported their sighting, Funk also spotted Marley and called one of the flier’s phone numbers, bringing Tochalauski flying to the golf course about two miles from her home.
“We got in a golf cart and spotted her,” Funk said. “I tried to approach, but we didn’t even get close” before Marley took off again, out of the course and across Broadway. “We went bombing across Broadway” in pursuit.
They finally caught up with the loping dog on a residential street, and Marley finally recognized her master’s voice.
“She was crying, pretty darn happy, and the dog was happy, too,” Funk said.
He went back for Tochalauski’s car as she stayed with Marley. As they drove away, Marley “had her head out the window, as happy as she could be,” Funk said.
If Marley gets away again, Tochalauski will turn to Facebook as well as fliers, she said.
In the meantime, “We’ve fixed the fence gate.”
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin