Christmas Eve 2012 was a holiday never to be forgotten by the Wilson-Lindquist home. Seventeen-year-old Deva Wilson related how her sister let the dogs out for their nightly potty break, only to have 6 of the 7 dogs return when called.
“All the dogs came back but Tommy,” Wilson said. For Tommy, who she characterized as naughty, it wasn’t unusual for him to make a break for the trash, but as she put it “he was nowhere to be found.”
“It was the worst Christmas in history,” Wilson remembered.
Like his name sake, former University of Texas Maverick alumni and Army General Tommy Franks, PACH 6 General Tommy Franks, the Parson Russell Terrier, is a maverick of sorts. His capers include jumping on the counter, including getting stuck in the kitchen sink and the occasional “dig into the trash can.” But, Deva doesn’t turn a blind eye. “I’m quite fond of his naughty habits,” she admits.
Unfortunately, his maverick ways took him on a wayward journey for nearly six months. When all the other dogs returned and not Tommy, the search began. Posters, phone calls, and walking the neighborhood did not reveal one sign or remedy the situation. The family had registered with a de facto doggie Amber Alert service called Finding Fido.
One day a woman called, and she told the family she and her son had seen a blue SUV on Christmas Eve picking up Tommy, but since the wayward terrier happily jumped in the vehicle, they figured he had found his rightful owners. Of course the family was worried. Tommy had allergies that were manageable through preventative treatments. Would those who picked up Tommy do what was necessary to help Tommy stay healthy? Only time would tell, and it did.
After nearly six months, an elderly couple who lived in the area had brought their Parson Russell Terrier to the vet explaining his medical needs and also letting the vet know they found the dog. A quick scan revealed a microchip and that the little dog did indeed have an owner. The microchip belonged to Wilson’s family friend. You see, when the friend had a sudden change in life plans, the Wilsons invited Tommy to come live with the family and the pack as if he was their own in the summer of 2009, but his microchip registry was not changed. His original owner was still a very large, active part of his life.
Sure enough, it was Tommy. Wilson received confirmation via her mother. She didn’t believe it a first and kept asking, “Are you sure?” Wilson explained that during those six months, “it was harder not knowing” if Tommy was dead or not. The reality that he may actually be alive after six months had wavered her faith.
Reunited on May 3, 2013, it was time for Wilson and Tommy to resume their agility training. Tommy’s training was “a community effort” including Megan, Wilson’s older sister. Throughout his agility career, Tommy had picked up bad habits that needed correcting, including teeter fly offs, bad weave pole entries, and an inconsistent dog walk. Wilson admits she was mostly involved in proofing as she stood near the agility training field with her Border Collie, Detour, as a distraction. Two teenagers who were self-trained through watching agility videos took one wayward dog and developed an agility machine.
Tommy earned six PACH titles (preferred agility champion) and two second placements at the National Agility Championships in Harrisburg in 2014 and Reno in 2015 with Wilson at the helm at 15 and 16 years old, respectively. Wilson and Tommy also won the 12-inch division at the Junior Agility Competition three consecutive years in a row at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championships in Orlando, Florida. This feat had never been done before nor has it been contested since. She and Tommy appeared at 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Master Agility Championship and was the first junior handler to make finals.
Willis, Texas is home to Tommy and Wilson. With 4,000 residents in this city north of Houston, Wilson keeps herself plenty busy. Her reputation as a handler has grown and with it has grown her student base. Currently, she teaches 64 students in nine classes. Ten of her students are attending the NAC in Tulsa, Oklahoma Wilson, who is homeschooled, plans on finishing her course work for graduation by May 2017.
Wilson considers this year’s AKC NAC Tommy’s “victory lap” as he may head into retirement, but only time will tell. She’s just excited that “he still gets to run.” Tommy has shown to the world what one little determined dog can do with an equally determined teenager as a teammate.