Steve Warner and his family last week thought they finally found their 14-year-old golden retriever, Madison, who went missing from their Sunriver vacation home Oct. 2.

Sunriver Police contacted the family and said a dog matching Madison’s description was found in Molalla.

Warner’s wife, Rosalie, and daughter, Catherine, drove from the family’s primary home in Beaverton on Oct. 29 to pick up Madison, but when they returned something seemed off about their dog. Warner took a look and didn’t recognize her.

“I knew right away it wasn’t her,” he said. “I think they wanted it so badly to be her.”

Through social media, they eventually reunited the dog with its owner. Warner drove the dog, a 15-year-old female golden retriever, to Wilsonville and handed it off to the owner.

It was rewarding to help another lost dog, Warner said. But his family still desperately wants to be reunited with their own dog.

“It’s been horrible,” Warner said. “We really got our emotions up.”

The monthlong search for Madison has been frustrating and full of false sightings, Warner said.

A few days after Madison went missing, someone thought they spotted her in the back of a black Toyota 4Runner at the Wendy’s drive-thru on Third Street in Bend. The dog appeared to be trying to get out of the car, and the driver turned around and said, “You’re mine now.”

Nothing ever came of that report, Warner said.

Another time, an elderly man driving in La Pine said he almost hit a golden retriever that was walking alone toward the train tracks. But he never stopped to check on the dog.

Madison was never microchipped, but she was wearing a collar and identification tag when she disappeared.

Warner, a retired engineer with the Union Pacific Railroad, believes somebody must have picked up Madison either with good intentions to have her returned or to keep her for themselves.

“Somebody should have seen her,” Warner said. “I really do believe somebody has taken her in and now knows we are out looking for her.”

Warner was the last one in the family to see Madison. He was closing up their Sunriver home the evening of Oct. 2 and preparing to drive back with Madison to Beaverton. As he was loading the car, Madison wandered off, and Warner couldn’t find her.

It started to get dark, and Warner began searching with a head lamp.

Warner stayed in Sunriver for the next few days driving the streets and handing out flyers. He has since made multiple trips back to Sunriver.

The night Madison disappeared, Warner also called Sunriver Police.

The police posted multiple times about Madison on the department’s Facebook page, helped share flyers and kept an eye out while on patrol. The department also partnered with Deschutes County Animal Control to place cage traps in the area filled with dog food.

Lt. Mike Womer said lost pets are a common call for the police department. Dogs are allowed to be off-leash in Sunriver, and the homeowners association does not allow fenced yards, he said.

Given the low crime rate and small size of Sunriver, the police department is able to help more with lost pets, Womer added.

“We get the luxury and benefit of being able to dedicate more time to community engagement and providing these services,” he said.

Madison is a true family dog. She lives in Beaverton with the Warners, daughter Catherine and their grandchildren, 5-year-old McKenna and 4-year-old Kainn.

Madison is also close with the Warners’ other daughter, Stephanie, who lives in the Portland metro area.

Rosalie Warner said Madison always needed to be in the same room as the family. When putting the grandchildren to bed at night, Madison would stay at the foot of their beds while their grandmother would read them a book. Madison would not leave until the grandchildren fell asleep, Rosalie Warner said. Besides being with the family in Beaverton, Madison’s other favorite activity was going on trips to Sunriver, especially in winter.

“It was home to her,” Steve Warner said.

The family continues to share flyers and search the Sunriver area in hopes of bringing Madison home.

“I just really do feel she is there,” Steve Warner said, “and somebody is going to come forward eventually.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,