A few weeks ago, Crystal Lake resident Hawley Haleblian was scanning through the Community Harvest Facebook page when one photograph caught her eye.
It was a photograph of the Community Harvest's mascot, Simon, visiting Two Amigos Landscape Co. that jumped from the screen. Simon, a stuffed scarecrow, was sitting next to the statue of a big black dog.
"I looked at the photo and said that's my dog!" said Haleblian, who hadn't seen the statue in more than 20 years. "The minute I saw it I knew it was mine. I texted my kids and told them to get on Facbebook. They saw the picture and said 'that's your dog!'"
Haleblian eventually picked up the phone and left a voice message for Maria Ortega, an owner at Two Amigos. She briefly explained how she saw the photograph, and believed the dog was one she lost years ago. By the end of the voice message, the tears began to flow.
"I lost it on the phone," Haleblian said, with a small laugh. "I couldn't help it. I tried not to cry, but I did."
More than 40 years ago, Haleblian first saw the big statue of the Russian Wolfhound, covered in black porcelein glaze, at I.Magnin's antique shop in Chicago. She brought her grandmother, an antique collector herself, to the store and she fell in the love with the statue, too.
"I fell in love with it, and she fell in love with it," Haleblian said. "She bought it and put it on her porch for 10 years in Macomb. When I built a house on the north side of (Crystal Lake), she gave it to me as a gift."
Haleblian kept the statue in the entryway of her house for another 10 years. But then she and her first husband divorced, and, in the process of selling their house, she placed some of her belongings in storage - specifically in a friend's barn.
"A couple years passed, and I never saw it again," Haleblian said. "The stuff in the barn was disposed of over the years. I didn't know where it all went."
After leaving the phone message for Two Amigos, Haleblian said she never heard back from Ortega. But word about her long lost dog sighting spread among volunteers at the Crystal Lake Food Pantry and Community Harvest.
Haleblian and her husband, Haig, owners of Exceed Flooring, give Community Harvest and the food pantry free storage space at their store located at 5186 Route 14 in Crystal Lake.
Unbeknownst to Hawley, the Community Harvest volunteers were working behind the scenes to reunite her with the statue. Judy Pelinski and Cate Williams, working with Ortega, coordinated a reunion of the two.
On Friday, the trio surprised Hawley when they had the big black dog - which has suffered a crack and a bit of damage over the years - delivered to Exceed Flooring.
"I cried when I saw him," Hawley said. "I couldn't help myself. I'm going to fix him....he's going home with me."