Tuesday morning, about the time we departed St. Louis, our dog Cooper got away. The nightmare had begun.

Cooper is seven. Julie and I have had him since he was just a puppy. Our normal kennel was full when we finally decided on a quick weekend getaway to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals. My wonderful parents readily agreed to care for him, as they have so many times before.

Unfortunately, Cooper can be shall I say, challenging, when away from home. He sometimes just won't go to the bathroom. Tuesday morning, my parents experienced it first hand. After dad spent nearly an hour with him, my mom decided to give it a try. When she too was unsuccessful, while making an adjustment to his collars, he got away from her. They gave chase as Cooper made his way around town before finally disappearing in an area near the outskirts of town.

I love my mom and dad more than anything and they are as stricken with grief as Julie and I are. It hurts me just as much to see them hurting as it does to have lost our dog. It's made it all doubly difficult.

We drove back from St. Louis Tuesday morning as fast as we could and joined the hunt. We looked until dark then spent Wednesday from daybreak to nightfall doing it all again. Jobs have left us with no choice but to leave others to look today and tomorrow. They are looking. SO MANY are looking. People I don't even know have driven around for an entire day in their vehicles looking. Property owners have taken out John Deere Gators and other vehicles to search fields and brush piles. I'm from the small town of Sigourney, and though I've been gone for nearly 30 years, it seems EVERYONE is looking for our beloved dog. I'll never be able to thank them all, but I hope they know how much we appreciate their efforts.

Our families have gone so far above and beyond, we'll never be able to repay them with enough thanks. They've worked all day and then joined us as soon as they could get to Sigourney or helped in town all day if they were able.

We've contacted law enforcement agencies over several counties, shelters and animal rescue organizations. Not one of them has acted like we were a bother. Not one. Iowa is an incredibly caring place.

Our pleas for help on Facebook have been answered in incredible ways. The photo (at bottom) of a poster we had made in Sigourney Wednesday morning has been shared literally hundreds upon hundreds of times in just the last 24 hours or so. I know many of you are among those that have done so. To you, I also say thank you.

We're not the only ones in our house that miss Cooper. Our cat, Charlie, who we got as a kitten just after the holidays, misses him as well. Here's a video we shot of the two of them a few months ago. They're buddies and we know Charlie wonders where he is.

We love Cooper so much. Our first Sheltie died after suffering a stroke in the middle of the night. We tried to rush him to an emergency vet clinic, but he died on the way. The grief was extreme. However, not knowing where your dog is, is so much worse. We haven't given up Cooper, and we won't until we find you. We love you.

Cooper Facebook