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Email leads to happy end in real Shaggy dog story


ANCRAM–Likely lured by sights and particularly the smells that erupted long before spring officially arrived, three dogs set off on exploratory expeditions earlier this month and they all ended up lost.


Luckily, they found themselves in their directionally-challenged positions in various places in Ancram, which has proven to be a good place to be a lost dog that wants to get found.


Two of the canines were initially traveling together, a black lab called Shaggy and a Bernese mountain dog, whose name could not be immediately dug up. The pair was spotted on the move together in a field off Route 82 the same night the mountain dog showed up just down the road at the home of Ron and Cathy Osofsky.

The Osofsky’s own and operate nearby Ronny Brook Farm, so town Supervisor Art Bassin speculated at the March 15 Town Board meeting that the dog was in search of some ice cream. Mrs. Osofsky told The Columbia Paper this week that she went to the door to let her own dog out that night, when what may have been the biggest dog she had ever seen greeted her on the front porch.


Though she couldn’t think of anything that compared in size to the animal that she described as “tall and massive,” information about the “large breed” on the American Kennel Club website ( says it originated in Switzerland and was used as a “draft animal” to pull carts.

The dog had no collar and was mostly black with some white on its face. Mrs. Osofsky said she was hoping it would be gone by the next morning just because it was taking up so much space. But the dog was still there and stayed for much of the next day.

Her granddaughters were visiting at the time and were amazed by the size of the dog. Word of the hairy visitor made its way to Supervisor Bassin, who sent out a message to his townwide email list to try to find its owner.


In the meantime, Dale Boyles, who lives on Jennifer Lane off Poole Hill Road, said by telephone Wednesday that her husband found a black lab out by their garage on a recent Saturday morning. He brought the friendly dog inside and it nearly “knocked the wall down” wagging its tail, she said.

This dog was wearing a collar that had a rabies tag on it bearing the name and address of a veterinary practice on Tuckahoe Road, Eastchester in Westchester County. Coincidentally, Mrs. Boyles’ sister lives in Eastchester, so she called and gave her sister the tag number and the name of the vet, which turned out to be the same vet her sister uses for her animals.

The vet checked it out, gave the sister the address of the owner, who lives in Eastchester and at Mountain Top Farm in Ancramdale. Mrs. Boyles eventually got in touch with someone at the farm, known locally as “the castle” or “the mansion” on the hill overlooking the Ancramdale hamlet, and soon Dick Hoyt, a caretaker there, was on his way to pick up the black lab, subsequently identified as Shaggy.

It seems that Shaggy and the mountain dog were pals and both had taken leave of their mountain top digs for some lowland escapades. Mr. Hoyt successfully retrieved them both.


The third dog in the tale is a four-year-old black lab named Max, who lives with Candy Mason on Roche Drive in Ancramdale. Ms. Mason reported Max missing to animal control and Supervisor Bassin, who put out a townwide email missing dog alert. Ms. Mason noted in an email that Max had not returned home after visiting the neighbors as was his usual routine.


Though the supervisor’s email alerts have served to reunite many a rambling rover with its owner, in the end Max did not require the services of humans to bring him home. He found his way there on his own a couple of days later. Ms. Mason wrote in an email that she wasn’t sure where he went, but she was sure glad to have him home.


In other business at the March 15 Town Board meeting:


*The board along town officials from Taghkanic and Copake heard a lengthy presentation about a shared services program from Glenn Smith, who serves as building inspector/code enforcement officer/zoning enforcement officer for Austerlitz, Canaan and Hillsdale. As reported earlier in The Columbia Paper, Mr. Smith hopes to get more towns in on the shared services savings he calculates they can realize.


*The board appointed Donna Hoyt an official member of the Town’s Zoning Revision Committee at the request of Councilman and ZRC Chairman Hugh Clark. Mr. Clark reported that the ZRC has met 90 times since March 2010 with each meeting lasting two hours. He calculated that in meeting time alone committee members have devoted 180 hours to their mission. Mrs. Hoyt, who, up until now, was not a committee member, but just an interested community member, had attended 86 of the 90 meetings–a 95% attendance rate. Because Mr. Clark runs the ZRC with the idea that, “nobody has a monopoly on good ideas,” and allows discussion from the floor, Mrs. Hoyt has regularly asked questions, given suggestions, participated in board deliberations, submitted a helpful map and even voluntarily took a Land Use Training course. Mr. Bassin said the action would be “well-deserved recognition” of Mrs. Hoyt’s efforts and everyone voted in favor.


To contact Diane Valden email



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