By: Ronda Snyder
The Town of Sidney with approximately 4,500 residents is located between Waterville to the north and Augusta to the South. It’s a small tight nit community made up of farms and small neighborhoods. Sidney, Maine was incorporated on January 30, 1792 and was named after English author, Sir Philip Sidney.
There are no street lights in Sidney (there are a couple of blinking lights but no actual red, yellow and green lights) though if you’re driving down West River Road, you may have to stop and wait for a cow crossing. The small general stores in town, Middle Road General and Annie’s Variety, are places where people gather to talk with their neighbors and the staffs of both stores know most everyone’s names and their usual orders.
On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, Emilee Smalley posted on the community town page about a missing dog named Finnix aka Phoenix. Smalley took it upon herself and spearheaded a social media campaign to help find Finnix and bring him home to his family, Finnix’ family doesn’t use social media so Smalley organized daily searches for Finnix including posting search areas and having volunteers meet up at the Sidney ballfields to get search assignments. Smalley gave continuous updates and asked for help from Sidney residents. Smalley was unwavering in her quest to find this pup as were the residents of Sidney. Smalley says, “With the current environment and everyone seemingly on one side or the other, I had no idea if any of the people agreed or disagreed on issues. They were simply there helping to search and we all came together with a single purpose. It was beautiful to come over the hill at the ballfields and see everyone gathered together to help search for Finnix. Why can’t we be like that all the time?”
Finnix was rescued from Russia 3 months ago by his owners. He lived most of his life on his own and they believe his paws were caught in a bear trap which was the reason for his amputations. Finnix uses prosthetic devices on his front legs to help him walk. One of the prosthetics was found near the owner’s property. The residents of Sidney were determined to help find this dog who tugged at the heartstrings of the town.
Dozens of Sidney residents donned their orange outerwear and searched for Finnix near his home and as one area was searched and cleared, the search area was increased working outwards. The search was daunting and difficult as many areas of Sidney are deeply wooded. This continued until Saturday, November 13.
On November 13, 2021, Sidney resident Lisa Goodrich and her 10 year old son, Trentyn, got ready to spend another day searching for Finnix. Lisa and/or Trentyn went out every day to search for Finnix once the call for help was posted by Smalley. Lisa and Trentyn met with other searchers at the ballfield on Saturday but decided to set out on their own. After several hours with no luck, they returned home but Lisa couldn’t get rid of a nagging feeling that she needed to head back out to search. With Trentyn in tow, Lisa again went back out to look for Finnix.
Lisa and Trentyn returned to search an area where they had been the day before. Lisa says “something in my heart told me to go to the top of the bank again. My son had just uttered a prayer asking God to help us find Finnix when we heard whimpers and whining from deep in the brush.” The day Lisa and Trentyn found Finnix is also the anniversary of her father’s death and she believes she had some extra “help” in locating Finnix.
Lisa immediately called the owner and told them she believed they had found Finnix but he was very deep in the brush and she thought that he was tangled up and couldn’t move. Finnix’ owner showed up on the scene with his missing prosthetic and together they worked through the brush to reach and untangle Finnix.
Finnix was tired and dehydrated but in overall remarkably good shape after spending 5 days missing in the woods. Finnix’ owners are private folks who are overjoyed to have this special dog back with their family. Thanks to the residents of a small Maine town coming together to help one another, this story has a beautifully happy ending.
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