Whitebridge mum Nisha James has paid tribute to Newcastle’s “amazing” and “overwhelming” community spirit after her family’s two dogs went missing last week.
The beloved cavoodles, Garry (he “likes to be called Gaz Man”) and Marley, disappeared seven days ago and have remained missing despite an extraordinary effort from friends and strangers.
Nisha says the pooches have been a comfort to her 14-year-old daughter, Lilah, who has been struggling with illness over the past six months.
“Tuesday afternoon I arrived home after a couple of hours at work to greet the two little ones and they were missing,” Nisha told Topics.
“We are shattered. They are my daughter’s best friends and sleep with her in her bed every night. Her stress and worry has caused her to be physically sick. These two dogs have been the lifeline she needed.”
Nisha has posted a $2000 reward for the dogs. She has been on the radio, supporters have posted 600 flyers around town, and her Facebook posts on the missing pets have been shared more than 2600 times.
The family spent Father’s Day searching the streets and bush.
Nisha says she has been “really touched” and “taken aback” by the support.
“The Newcastle community, there is nothing like it. People have been hugging us and bursting into tears when they see us walking around with flyers.
“This is why we love Newcastle. We all should be so proud of the town we live in.
“I have had a few hundred messages from people I do not even know offering help and that their door is open.
“We have had over 30 cars at any one time roaming the streets, people messaging me saying they took their kids or dogs for a walk through bushes around schools, around dog tracks.
“People are stopping each other asking about the two cavoodles, and everyone is very keen to see a huge reunion.”
Nisha says strangers have been texting her to say they had visited the pounds at Tighes Hill and Rutherford on her behalf.
“People have been contacting me from Swansea to Cessnock and all in between.
“I have nearly 1000 messages on my phone from people telling me where they went with their family looking and their family are all praying. I can't believe it. I have never met these people ever.
“We have had rugby league and netball groups contact us to say, ‘We are spending the afternoon as a group looking for your dogs.’
“People are texting to say their kids are devastated about Marley and Garry. It’s their topic of conversation at dinner time.
“Kids are drawing pictures of Marley and Garry being home and posting them on their Instagrams, and they are wanting to take the flyers and copy more and hand them out.
“I have had little kids ring me and say I am such and such and I am 10 years old and I ride my bike around Tingira Heights and I will look out for your puppies and catch them.
“I think it’s a marvellous story about the strength of the Newcastle community. It compares to no other town.”
The Kotara South under-13s’ No.1 supporter, Northern Territory road train driver Ray, was bursting with pride after the Tigers completed a fairytale season with a 3-1 victory over minor premiers Nelson Bay in the D-grade grand final on Saturday.
As Topics has been reporting, Ray, who lives in a remote cattle station in the Gulf Country, was accidentally included in the team’s group messages at the start of the season.
He contacted the team’s coach, Tony Griffiths, a few months back and told him he’d been “getting messages from you all year about training”.
Ray asked to be left on the message list and became a vicarious supporter. Soon, the Tigers’ training schedule became a running joke in his family and on the cattle station.
He and his wife were keen to get updates on the team’s results. The Tigers came back from 2-0 down in the final 10 minutes of the regular season to scrape into the finals then won two sudden-death play-off games to make the decider.
For the big one, they made a sign: “Hi Ray. This one’s for you.”
And, powered by the spirit of their northern fan, the boys knocked off the favourites to claim the title.
“Ray and his wife have been told the great news, and he has messaged the boys to tell them he is proud of them,” Tony told Topics.
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