7/29/07 A Boy and His Dog
Tommy Kelly and his dog Screwball were a pair like that.
On January 26, 1999, 17 year-old Tommy disappeared from his home in Oregon. His remains were found in a nearby orchard creek bed on June 12, 2000, almost 18 months later.
Screwball just turned 18 years old and was in very poor health. His vet recommended he be put to sleep. Tommy’s dog was an important connection for Vicki to her son Tommy. With mixed feelings, Vicki took Screwball for his last vet visit.
When someone you love is missing, or has passed away, in Tommy's case, possessions of theirs, especially something living, become ties to that person. Losing that possesion, opens wounds that may have partially healed, or at least that'd been set aside, as life goes on.
Vicki Kelly, Tommy's mother, shared the moving story about a very special dog with us:
"Tommy’s 18 yr old basset hound Screwball has traveled to "Rainbow Bridge", where I know Tommy is waiting for him. He was such a special and loyal dog. The day after Tommy went missing, we noticed that Screwball was no where to be found. Because we so hysterical trying to locate Tommy, we called the pound and hoped Screwball would return. The next day we saw a sign down the road from us saying “Found Basset Hound”. It was Screwball. He had walked 2 miles in freezing January weather.
We brought him home, but later that night when we let him out to do his “biz” again he disappeared and a few hours later the same people where he was found called again and said Screwball was back. We were forced to chain him, and didn’t understand why he kept taking off until 2 days later when the news did a story on Tommy’s disappearance. The house he kept going to turned out to be where Tommy was last seen alive.
Screwball became famous in the news here as the dog who searched for his boy. Screwball was at Tommy's funeral, wearing a bow tie collar, and he laid in front of the coffin during the whole service. It was like he knew, I know he knew.
As I said my goodbye, I told him it was time, he was finally going to find his boy, and to please give his boy licks of love from his Mom.
Goodbyes are so hard, but I know he and Tommy are again playing together.
It is amazing the connection and special bond we humans can have with a pet.
Until we meet again Leopold Napoleon Screwball”
As a result of their experience of having a missing child, the Kelly family formed the Tommy Foundation to help parents deal with the loss of a child, and to show them how to search, and to cope.
Vicki said, "When Tommy's remains were recovered, we made a vow to be a voice for missing children and child safety. We had the choice to either let it destroy us and become reactive, or become proactive." In May of 2001, on National Missing Children's Day, the Oregon legislature passed the Tommy Laws and they formed the Tommy Foundation. The Tommy Laws require police to be trained in how to search for missing children.
Vicki Kelly, along with Project Jason Campaign for the Missing volunteer Robert Bristow, helped pass the model legislation in Oregon earlier this year.
To learn more about the organization named after Tommy, please visit the Tommy Foundation.