A Dayton mother is holding out hope that her 4-year-old autistic son’s faithful and protective dog — who has been missing for more than a month — is found before her son returns home from an out-of-town visit with relatives.
Mauricio “Rico” Martinez is set to return next Friday from a short summer visit with his grandfather and step-grandmother in Mansfield.
A reunion with his dog would be like icing on a cake, his family said.
Rico asks about his rat terrier Miles each time he talks to his family on the phone, Brandy Ashbrook said.
“He keeps asking us ‘is my dog back’,” the mother of six said. “He says ‘mommy, can you find my doggy? Can you find my Miles?’”
Ashbrook said her son was so distraught over the dog recently that her stepmother took him to the hospital.
“He wouldn’t stop crying,” Ashbrook said. “She didn’t know how to handle it.”
Rico was diagnosed with Asperger’s — an autism spectrum disorder that impacts children’s language and behavioral development — a year ago at age 3.
He was with Miles daily.
“The dog was part of his routine,” Ashbrook said. “That was his buddy.”
Watch video above about Rico’s close relationship with Miles.
The dog was last seen by his family at Walnut Hills Park, where some of Ashbrook’s older children had taken him for Fourth of July fireworks.
The park is a block from the family’s former home on Illinois Avenue.
Miles was not wearing a collar because he had just had a bath, Ashbrook said.
She also said she was distracted by her recent diagnosis with ovarian cancer. She said it did not cross her mind until later that many dogs do not like fireworks due to the loud sounds.
She said the family immediately began searching for the lost pooch after he somehow became separated from the children.
“We spent hours upon hours looking for him,” she said. They also filed a police report, checked area shelters, put up flyers and added Miles to online lost pet pages and sites.
The family has recently renewed the search in hopes that Miles is with someone who misidentified him as a stray.
Ashbrook and her husband Luis Martinez moved their family to the house they recently purchased on Haviland Avenue two days ago.
Rico shared the dog with 16-year-old Ginnifer Ashbrook, his closest sibling.
Ginnifer called Miles loving and extremely loyal.
“He was always with me and Rico,” Ginnifer said. “Everywhere we’d go, the dog would follow.”
Those with information about Miles are asked to call (937) 657-0825.
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