When Rob Lucier’s terrier, Waffles, disappeared in Lower Queen Anne, he got help from residents and found her — her brown coat dyed black — with a homeless woman.
When Rob Lucier’s terrier, Waffles, went missing in Lower Queen Anne last week he did what many pet owners do — uploaded images on Facebook, hung up fliers, posted a story in a neighborhood blog and asked police for help.
But the response Lucier and his family received was remarkable; complete strangers helped track the 1½-year-old cairn terrier to a homeless woman, who is believed to have dyed the dog black in attempt to conceal its identity.
Lucier explained that on the morning of Sept. 15 his mother-in-law tied Waffles up outside Metropolitan Market and went inside. When she returned Waffles was missing.
“She obviously panicked; she asked the store if they saw anything,” Lucier said, adding that a store manager went through surveillance images with them. They saw someone take the dog, but because of the way the camera was pointed they could only see the dognapper from the knees down.
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Soon after Waffles disappeared, Lucier began receiving calls from people saying they saw Waffles with a homeless woman often seen in the neighborhood.
Lucier kept searching, even heading to Pioneer Square to hand out fliers on Saturday morning. While there, he said, he received a call from a woman who said she had seen his dog in a restroom at the Seattle Center Armory. She said she saw a woman “washing paint off the dog,” Lucier said.
“It didn’t make any sense so I got on my bike, went up to the Armory building and talked to a security guard. He said a woman was trying to dye a dog in our bathroom.”
The security guard told Lucier he asked the woman to leave, he said.
While he was at Seattle Center, Lucier’s mother-in-law called to say that she had found the woman, with a black terrier, in Lower Queen Anne. She had called police and had summoned help from a stranger to follow the woman.
Lucier pedaled to the scene and confronted the woman.
“She said, ‘This is my dog; why are you following me?’” he said.
Lucier admitted he “had a moment of doubt” when he saw the black dog.
“She looked like an older dog. Waffles is not yet 2 years old,” he said.
Lucier said he called his dog by her name and she “perked up.” When Lucier reached down to pick up Waffles, inhaling the stench of hair dye, the woman pushed him, he said.
It was then that Seattle police officers arrived and separated the woman and Lucier, interviewing each of them to find out who was telling the truth. Officers took Waffles to a nearby veterinary clinic to have her microchip scanned; it showed she was registered to Lucier.
Officers detained the woman, who said she had owned the dog for a year and a half, according to a police report. “Officers noticed black dye on her fingertips, but she said this was related to her work as a painter,” the report said.
Lucier said he didn’t want to pursue criminal charges.
“We knew at that point she was homeless. She’s someone who needs help,” he said.
Since returning home to Lucier, his wife and their two children, Waffles has been a little more timid and after multiple baths hasn’t returned to her golden “wafflelike” color, Lucier said.