Delta resident Carol Feichko is celebrating her own Christmas miracle after being reunited with the beloved pet she lost 13 months ago.
"Baby," a poodle-chihuaua mix, or "choodle," escaped from Feichko's house on 7th Street through a damaged fence in November 2015. Feichko, daughter Sabrina Fernandez and two great-granddaughters looked and looked for the small black dog. They posted ads in the newspaper, called area shelters and prayed incessantly.
"My family kept telling me 'Mom, don't cry ... she'll come home.' "
Then in early December, Fernandez was taking granddaughter Alexis to a dance recital at Columbine Wellness in the Columbine Mall on Delta's Main Street. In Good Vibrations, a store that occupies the lower level of Columbine Mall, Fernandez spotted a dog that looked a lot like her mother's. Later, when she returned with her mother to attend the dance recital, they again saw the dog in the arms of store manager Brenda Suiter. When Feichko walked up to the dog, she instantly jumped into her arms and kissed her "two million times." Baby was back home.
Baby had been with Suiter for four months and with the previous owner for two months. Only Baby can say where she was in the months immediately following her disappearance, but Feichko said she was always eager to jump into a car and go for a ride.
When Suiter came into possession of the dog she was known as Sally. Because she was so gentle and well-mannered, Brenda took her everywhere, including to work, although she normally kept Sally in the office.
When she saw the touching reunion between dog and owner, she said there was no question about returning Sally to her original owner. "I would have wanted someone to do the same thing, but it wasn't easy," she said. "Sally is an extremely great dog."
Feichko says she feels guilty about accepting the dog from Suiter, but said "she's part of my heart."
She describes Baby as well-mannered, easy to train and a comfort to both her and her husband, who died of complications of Parkinson's.
Baby is 8 and has been part of the family since she was so tiny she could fit into the palm of Feichko's hand. She is the offspring of a dog owned by daughter Sabrina, who said, "She was so cute and so sweet and so special, I couldn't give her to anyone else but Mom."
"It's a Christmas miracle," said Feichko, holding Baby in her lap and stroking her soft fur.
Two fatal accidents occurred in Delta County within a two-day span last week.
Casey Gillenwater, 25, of Delta was killed the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 133 outside of Hotchkiss.