A No-Holds-Barred Search

Bryan and Michele Gosman, with their son, Richard, lost their 5-month-old puppy, Rex, and have hired dog trackers to help find him. Janis Hewitt

    When Richard Gosman, a 7-year-old from Montauk, was asked if he liked living in his new house, which he and his mom and dad moved into in mid-September, he said he’d rather be living in the woods with Rex, his 5-month-old German shepherd puppy who went missing on Oct. 1.
    Bryan and Michele Gosman have been posting signs all over Montauk, with some in East Hampton and Amagansett. They’ve also sent more than 2,000 posters with Rex’s picture to every veterinarian’s office across Long Island and in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland from a list they obtained from a company online.
    Mr. Gosman, of Gosman’s Fish Market, usually took the puppy to work with him each day in the dock area. For some reason on Oct. 1, Rex stayed home, and the family thinks he may have decided to travel on his own to his master’s place of work.
    The puppy is one of three dogs the family owns that are allowed to roam freely in the spacious, slightly confined backyard, which borders a nature preserve. He has never wandered off before and always stayed with the other dogs, a mixed-breed rescue from Puerto Rico and another shepherd.
    The family has searched for days. While Mr. Gosman was rambling through the woods calling Rex’s name, he was bitten by an insect and his hand swelled terribly. His doctor thought it may have been a spider bite, and Mr. Gosman was hospitalized for two days. Bored in the hospital, he started Googling information about lost dogs and found that one can hire scent-tracking dogs to help find a lost animal.
    Upon his release, he and Ms. Gosman made several phone calls and ended up hiring four tracking dogs from Maine — a Belgian Malinois, a Labrador retriever, a hound mix, and a bloodhound. The dogs were brought to the new house on Beech Hollow Lane and were given several of Rex’s toys, blankets, and other items specific to Rex’s scent. Several items were swabbed and put in Ziploc bags for the dogs to sniff while tracking.
    The Belgian Malinois picked up Rex’s scent and led the crew to an area about a mile away from the Gosmans’ house, to the Edward Albee Foundation, a barn-type building with several outbuildings near Falcon Road. The Labrador confirmed that the scent was Rex’s. But from there the scent dropped, leaving the Lab’s trainers and his owners with the impression that Rex had been picked up. No one staying in the foundation had seen the dog.
    Days later, on Friday, several young residents who had seen a poster of the missing dog were playing paintball in the woods near Big Reed Path off East Lake Drive, several miles from the Gosmans’ house. They said they had seen the dog and called out to him, but he ran off, slightly skittish. They mentioned to Mr. Gosman that there are several other dogs they often see in the area. After that sighting, the Gosmans started visiting the area every day, calling out Rex’s name.
    On Monday, Ms. Gosman went back there to search again, and she came upon a group of landscapers. They said they hadn’t seen a dog, but as she was leaving, one of them stopped her and said he did remember seeing a shepherd-type dog on Friday in the same area.
    The couple hired a new set of scent-tracking dogs from Connecticut, and they were able to detect Rex’s scent in the woods, where the others had thought they had seen him. “The trainer told us she could be almost 100-percent sure the dog had been in the area,” Mr. Gosman said.
    Since Big Reed Path is near the Deep Hollow Ranch, which is now leased by Patrick and Kate Keogh, who also own a shepherd, the Gosmans got in touch with them and learned they were away — their dog could not have been the one the landscaper had seen. Besides, the Keoghs’ shepherd is much older and bigger, while Rex weighs in at about 50 pounds.
    The Gosmans said they could not believe the support and help they have received from the Montauk community. “It’s like everybody’s looking for him,” said Ms. Gosman. The family is offering a big reward for Rex’s return, and no questions will be asked. They just want their puppy back, especially Richard, a second grader at the Montauk School who prays nightly for his return.
    “I just hope that if someone has him that they’re taking good care of him and not hurting him. He’s just a dopey, friendly puppy who was loving life,” Mr. Gosman said.
    Anyone who has seen the puppy or knows anything pertaining to his disappearance can e-mail Ms. Gosman at montauk27@hotmail.com or call her at 631-335-5102.