BOWDOIN — It was the final blow in a two-month fight to bring home a beloved member of her family.

It was also the last phone call Lisa Nazarenko ever wanted to answer — especially as nearly 50 volunteers were mobilizing to scour the countryside around her Bowdoin home Saturday morning in search of her four-legged friend who wandered off in early May.

Cappuccino, a 12-year-old yellow Lab Nazarenko owned since it was just a pup, was found dead by a neighbor less than one mile from her Lewis Hill Road home near the Sabattus town line.

“I’m doing the best I can,” Nazarenko said through tears Sunday evening. “It’s like a big black hole. How do you go forward?”

A champion of four-legged friends everywhere, the traveling cardiac nurse spent thousands looking for Chino, including offering her 2007 Buell motorcycle, valued at $13,000, as a reward for anyone who found the dog. Additionally, friend Peter Ruby, owner of Sabattus Disc Golf, offered a one-year membership to his course as part of the reward.

“It just happened yesterday. It’s still all a blur,” Ruby said Sunday evening. “We were trying to get everything organized. It all happened all at once.”

Ruby and Nazarenko’s father bore the mournful task of identifying the dog’s body discovered curled up beside a local brook so close to its home. He said the news hit the army of animal lovers gathered at Nazarenko’s home very hard.

Chino had been missing since May 3, when Nazarenko returned home from her job at Central Maine Medical Center to find the dog had left the yard. When her longtime companion didn’t return, she started a massive search effort that included hiring professional dog trackers from Maryland, placing ads in local papers and buying banners for turnpike ramps.

Ruby said it was hard to determine how long ago Chino died, since he and Nazarenko searched the area where the animal was found just recently.

Nazarenko never let naysayers get her down or dampen her hopes of finding Chino. She said people would often call and tell her to “give up” or that “the dog is probably dead.” She never gave up on Chino, although she wishes now it would have been a happier homecoming.

“Thank God I didn’t give up. I’d have never found her,” Nazarenko said.

While deeply saddened by the loss, Nazarenko finds solace in the fact that Chino was laid to rest next to her companion of 10 years, Bosco, a 14-year-old chocolate Lab who died two years ago. Nazarenko was already in the process of building a stone wall memorial around the area where she laid Bosco to rest.

She never expected to be adding to it so quickly. But, on the other hand, she is at least somewhat relieved that she is able to reunite the two.

“They were inseparable,” Nazarenko said. “They slept together. They were only separated when Bosco died.”


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