Tornado survivor named Montgomery Co. Top Dog

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – When the Memorial Day tornadoes hit Trotwood, Semico Harden only had time to take her children to shelter. She went out to look for her dogs as soon as the storm passed. 

“I opened up the door. Duchess came. Duke was gone,” Harden said. “It was pretty depressing to go outside and only one of your dogs is there.”

Her family spent the next four months posting his picture on social media and printing it on flyers. The posted the flyers all across the area.

Harden said her dog Duchess moped around without her companion. Harden’s 17-month-old used to ride the mastiff as a horse and was also sad that she didn’t have her friend. Harden’s 17-year-old son was the caretaker for the dog and also missed his dog.

“There were always different sightings but it was never him,” Harden said.

The tip they were waiting for finally came in October. 

“We took the other dog there so she could kind of mark and try to help us find him. And once we did that, we put some clothing and things out. The next day, he was actually sitting there waiting for us to come pick him up,” Harden said.

It was a flood of emotions.

“Boy if he could talk, the stories he could tell, the places he has been,” said Karl Kieth, Montgomery County Auditor.

Keith chooses three Top Dogs every year. Duke’s strength won him the number one dog tag this year. 

“As a survivor of the tornadoes, I think it’s a symbol of hope, a symbol of compassion, a symbol of community and all the good things that’s good in America,” Kieth said.  

Duke is back to his drooling, loving ways — except better behaved. 

“He listens on command for the most part,” Harden said.

The family is back in their repaired house after being displaced for months. When the doors opened, Duke knew exactly where he was.

“Him and Duchess they went right back downstairs. It was like yes, we’re finally back at home,” Harden said.

And just a reminder for dog owners out there, the last day to sign up for your dog license in Montgomery County is January 31.

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