AMES, Iowa - A U.S. Navy veteran's missing dog has garnered the interest of thousands on social media more than a month into the search process.
"Surprising, honestly that he hasn't found his way home, or that we haven't had a lead," said Jathan Chicoine.
That's how Chicoine describes feeling after being more than a month away from his best friend, Jack. He rescued Jack in 2009 while working with the U.S. military in Afghanistan; Jack was a "war dog" there, helping keep vermin and other wildlife off the Forward Operational Base Chicoine worked on.
"It's been a little bit of an emotional roller-coaster," he said. "In the sense that we get a really positive lead - what we believe to be a credible lead - and you know, go out and search, and then the excitement of, 'Okay, we're going to see him today.' And then the letdown, of, 'It's not going to be today.'"
It was December 5 when Jack wandered a bit too far from his home in Ames. Chicoine took to social media to get help - nearly 5,000 shares later, he's received some leads, but he's still without his best friend.
"Over time we've kind of been able to make sense of a story of what he's doing," he said. "Originally he was moving what seemed like 15 miles a day, today it's more like 6 miles."
Chicoine says he knows Jack is still alive - both because he's a war dog and resourceful, and also because several credible leads recently have proven so. The kindness of Central Iowans have allowed Chicoine to borrow a drone, get a free plane ride, and even hire a team of search dogs, all in the name of finding Jack.
"I'm definitely overwhelmed with the amount of people who have been willing to support this search," he said. "I've joked that I could probably write a book about the stories I've heard from people."
He's heard from people who are just like him; people who lost their four-legged friends, too. Some having found their best friends, and some, sadly, not. It's the story of a man reuniting with his best friend that tugs on the heartstrings of social media, giving a Facebook page he set up to provide updates on Jack's rescue more than 2,000 "Likes."
"And we need to really maintain that," he said. "People following it, sharing it, because who knows, somebody could be at there, and really see Jack, and give us that real-time lead. And we could bring him home."
The most important thing Chicoine says you can do if you think you see Jack is to take a picture. He says he's received many leads without a picture attached, and that can be hard because oftentimes leads go nowhere, and distract too many people from other important locations as they focus on the area described in the tip. Text Chicoine at 605-202-0101.