It was like something out of a movie.
As Heidi Norman approached the soccer field, she saw a group of heads all turn to look at her with excitement. They started to jump for joy. In their midst was a six-month-old puppy named Merry.
The Hazen High School boys soccer team had found the missing foster dog March 4 during practice. Coach Ken Matthews said the student athletes were gearing up for practice and putting on their cleats when the puppy arrived.
The dog had popped up out of nowhere and was zooming around the field. In an athletic fashion, Merry ran several laps nervously before curling up under the bleachers where students sat.
At the time, the players were worn out from the week before — the first week is always rough when people get cut from the team. But this was a welcomed distraction.
“The guys latched onto her in a second,” Matthews said.
As more members of the soccer team arrived on the field, the students took interest and started to hold the dog. It was clear this pup had been taken care of and was likely missing, Matthews said.
Assistant coaches like Breann Vanden Bos found a blanket to wrap her in, and Matthews’ wife, Madeline Matthews, held the puppy while the boys continued practice.
The coaches posted pictures all over social media to try and find the owner.
At the same time, foster parents and staff at Aberdeen Scottish Terrier Rescue in Renton had been scouring the streets for Merry since Saturday morning. The possible Aussie Cattle Dog mix had run off during a meet and greet at Hazen for a possible adoption of another dog at the foster mom’s home.
Staff said Merry was spooked by how many people were at the meet and greet. It was ironic considering a couple days later she enjoyed the company of an entire soccer team of teenage boys.
Staff at the rescue said they hardly slept or ate while trying to get the word out and worrying over Merry. They placed posters everywhere. The puppy had been through so much as a rescue dog from an overcrowded shelter in Changwon, South Korea, and now was somewhere alone.
Merry was rescued as an attempt by Aberdeen Scottish Terrier Rescue to save 20 dogs that were going to be killed. She was among the first set of pups to arrive in the U.S. The dogs are claimed as baggage, then inspected and vetted before arriving in Washington into foster homes.
The rescue staff quickly saw the coaches’ posts and called Matthews. When owner Heidi Norman answered, she was in tears, so grateful they’d found Merry. Even days later, remembering the moment was an emotional one for Norman — it didn’t seem real.
“The sense of peace, gratitude we had to all the people, to this soccer team, for this lovely little dog and everything she’d been through was just unbelievable,” Norman said.
The staff members said they can breathe easy now that Merry is home with her foster parent. It takes many people to run the rescue and take care of these pups, and now a soccer team can be listed in those ranks.
Matthews said he hopes this moment brought some good karma to the field for the upcoming season.