Missing for 18 months, Sinatra the Husky returns home to Canarsie

November 27, 2018 By Todd Maisel Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Marie Willis gets a kiss from Sinatra after 18 months apart. Eagle photos by Todd Maisel
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Even after being missing for 18 months, Sinatra the brown and white Husky still seemed to remember the love of his former owners, the Willis family, at their home on 91st Street in Canarsie. He finally returned home thanks to the generosity of a Florida family who found the canine wandering the streets in November and began searching for his rightful owners.

It was on Nov. 6 that 13-year-old Rose Verrill of Florida took him in and began the search. The Verills and family friend Jeanne Baldi first put up flyers. Then, they took him to a veterinarian who was not able to retrieve much information about his former owners from an identification chip. 

Next, they turned to the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center, which came up with a possible name — Willis Les — and a phone number that was off by one digit.

Pictured, from left, Jaslene Gustave, Gabrielle Willis, Marie Willis and Lesmore Willis hold Sinatra tight at their Canarsie home.
Pictured, from left, Jaslene Gustave, Gabrielle Willis, Marie Willis and Lesmore Willis hold Sinatra tight at their Canarsie home.

Finally, they turned to social media and found owner Lesmore Willis, who answered the social media outreach on Nov. 9. Willis told them the dog had a problem with his right paw. Baldi sent along a photo. Willis confirmed it was Sinatra, and the process began to get him back home to Brooklyn.

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“Getting the dog back was like nothing I have ever felt before – we were really glad to get Sinatra back to his family,” Lesmore Willis said after a grueling trip from New Jersey to meet his friend Glen Ogilby who picked the dog up in Baltimore. “We never expected to see him again and having him back means the world to us. He did recognize me — he put his head on my knee,” Willis said.

Sinatra once belonged to 16-year-old Zion Willis, who died in a gun accident in the Bronx in 2015.

This much is known about the disappearance. Sinatra was a gift for the 14th birthday of Zion, who was an avid dancer and an animal lover. The blue-eyed dog loved to chase raccoons and squirrels, the teen’s father told the Brooklyn Eagle. One day, a year-and-a-half after Zion’s death, the dog never came home. It was a tragic loss for Zion’s grieving parents.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that while the dog was found, no one knows how it traveled 1,200 miles from New York to Seffner, Florida, which is near Tampa.

“It would be great to know who had him – to fill in the blanks would be nice, but we are just glad to have him home,” Willis said. “It was an arduous trip, the weather was insane, but he was the best – he was calm, collected and amazing during the trip. 

“He’s been living with the Verril family, their cat and their dog — peacefully. We are so grateful to have him home.” 

He added, “This is more than Christmas for us, this was Zion’s dog, and we are so glad to have him back and so [he] gave a part of Zion back to us.”

Marie Willis, Lesmore’s wife, said she was also grateful to have the dog home.

“Only God could’ve coordinated this, it’s just amazing to have a part of our family back,” she said.

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