By Jeff Todd
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A restaurant owner says his dog went missing after a bizarre encounter with a man.
“All the other doors are locked, lights are off,” said Matt Vogler. “Pretty much as soon as I walked out I knew Rue was missing.”
Vogler says he normally closes his restaurant on Tuesdays. He was in a back office when his girlfriend was inside the kitchen and encountered a man who had entered through the hard-to-find backdoor. They exchanged words in both English and Spanish.
“There’s too strong of a coincidence and correlation when he broke in to the back end of my restaurant, trespassed onto my land, and when my dog went missing. It’s too tight of a time frame,” Vogler said. “She described him as 5-foot-7, Hispanic gentleman, in middle to late 30s, wearing a Denver Broncos jersey.”
When friends and regular customers found out the dog was missing they’ve taken to social media to share Vogler’s plea to get the dog back.
“When I heard that (Rue went missing) I thought, ‘Something is wrong, that’s not Rue,’” said Hunter Shriner, a regular customer who has even adopted one of Rue’s offspring. “The only time I’ve ever seen Rue leave this property was when Matt was in the car with me and we were driving down the road and Rue was chasing us down the road because we forgot to put him in the car.”
The 5-year-old Louisiana catahoula wasn’t like a normal dog. Vogel has posted videos of the dog racing down ski slopes, endlessly retrieving balls or sticks, and showing an Olympic-level jumping ability.
“He was insanely athletic. One of the most agile dogs I’ve ever seen. It feels like a bad dream. I can’t acknowledge he’s not here,” said Vogler.
“There are so many people who come here and everyone who comes here knows Rue. He greets you at the door, walks you to your table and hangs out with you the whole time you’re here,” Shriner said.
Vogel has offered up $5,000 for a reward if the dog is returned.
“$5,000 is enough for someone to turn in your neighbor. At $5,000 maybe they figure out a way to get him back regardless,” said Vogler.
“There’s a reward out there that’s probably more than, if someone took the dog, what they’re going to get for him. So I hope he comes back and we’re going to have a great big party with Rue,” said Shriner.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.