Blue-dini The Dog’s Disappearing Act

Will Gorman, Dudlee, Leigh Drachman, Blue and Greg Feutz. Coco Zickos photo

When a family’s best friend takes off for a sudden overnight adventure, the Wailua community goes all out to find the missing pooch

It takes a village to raise a child, and apparently it also takes one to find a beloved lost dog.

Leigh Drachman and Greg Feutz are forever grateful for the community’s efforts to find their rescue dog Blue, who was located 36 hours after he disappeared.

“The generosity of complete strangers, locals, farmers and ranchers was incredible,” says Drachman.

From the moment her dog disappeared to the moment he was found, people from across the island did as much as they could to help.

The story begins one evening when Blue joined one of Drachman’s neighbors, Wil Gorman, and his dog Dudlee for a walk on Kuilau trail in Wailua.

“He (Blue) and Dudlee were running around having a great time,” recounts Gorman.

In the meantime, Drachman and Feutz were heading to the Red Clay Jazz Festival.

Unfortunately, all it took was the sound of an ATV and the whiff of an enticing scent for Blue’s leash to slip from Gorman’s hands, and the former hunting dog took off from the trail and into the valley.

“His big, fat nose just tore into the air,” says Gorman. “He smelled something and I didn’t pay enough attention to the purpose his body had when he turned. I mean, he didn’t lollygag and wonder what was back there, he just split.”

When Drachman received the call that Blue had gone missing, she says her heart dropped.

“It’s so thick and it’s so steep,” she says regarding the valley where he vanished.

Drachman returned home immediately and went straight to the site where Blue was last seen. Neighbors already had caught wind of her loss via Facebook and were already accompanying her in her search.

“By the time we got home, I had people texting me and calling me from all over,” she says.

Gorman also was diligent in his efforts to find Blue and hopped on his motorcycle, talking to some 30 individuals that evening.

“I was in a 150-mph panic-stricken haze,” he says.

The hardest part for Drachman was worrying about the choke chain and leash Blue still had on.

“Our biggest fear was that he would get stuck,” she recalls.

Drachman didn’t get much sleep that night and continued her search first thing in the morning, leaving some of her shirts at the point where Blue took off in hope that he would recognize her scent. By this time, even more people were aware of Blue’s disappearance and they helped comb the trail, some even with their dogs in hope that he would return to the familiarity of other canines.

Drachman posted fliers everywhere, and she also borrowed a choke chain from a friend to bring with her as she searched.

“Because he epitomizes Pavlov’s dogs, he hears the chain and he just wants to go for a walk,” she explains.

Another night of fitful sleep passed before Drachman was finally reunited with Blue. It wasn’t until early the next morning while on the porch with Feutz grieving her loss that she received the call she was waiting for.

Neighbor Kathy Gerrish had found Blue.

“I was so excited and overwhelmed that I actually got to the top of the driveway before I realized I had left Greg on the lanai, but I kept going anyway,” says Drachman.

Gerrish says she had seen the fliers Drachman posted about Blue and went searching for him, making sure she was equipped with jerky in case she found him.

Blue was not far from where he took off, still dragging the leash behind him, when Gerrish discovered him.

“It felt great. I was really happy,” says Gerrish.

When Drachman finally reunited with her lost love, she was overwhelmed with happiness.

“I cried, I was so happy to see him,” says Drachman, who had only recently adopted Blue from Kaua‘i Humane Society but had already fallen in love with him. “Greg and I don’t have children, so he’s like our child.”

Blue hardly had a scratch on him, though he was very thirsty.

“He was no worse for the wear,” says Drachman.

Still, what impressed her most was the responsiveness of the entire community.

“People were very friendly and helpful,” she says. “They knew how we felt and asked what they could do to help. People chose to walk this trail; they could have walked any trail.”

As far as what Blue — named by Feutz, a Michigan football fan — was doing remains anyone’s guess.

“We have different theories,” says Drachman.

“He probably had a bachelor party where he knew he was eventually going to go home, and so he did all the stuff we won’t let him do like sniff at a bush for an hour at a time,” jokes Feutz.

Regardless of what he was doing, he is now fondly referred to as Blue-dini for his Houdini-like disappearing act.