GREENE — The dog’s name is Ghost and these days he’s as popular as some moderately successful movie stars.
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A white husky, Ghost went missing in mid-November and the search for him over ensuing months has been a collective effort — to put it mildly.
Thousands of people have been following the gripping drama on social media, and when word came down that Ghost had been spotted in Acton in York County earlier in the week, interest in the story reached near hysterical levels.
The matter has been discussed almost nonstop on a Greene community Facebook page and elsewhere. The people of this town want Ghost back to his owner in Greene and the sooner the better.
“I’ve been following the story of Ghost since he first went missing,” Tina Barbour of Leeds said. “I check multiple times a day for any updates I can find. You just want to help so badly but you know that all you can do is wait and report any sightings.”
When you hear the backstory about Ghost and his owner, James Ember, it’s not hard to understand why so many people have been staying glued to their Facebook pages in hopes of even the smallest scraps of new information.
Ember, who has lived in Greene for 26 years, is a carpenter and cabinetmaker who lost his 23-year-old daughter in a car crash in 2021. It was a devastating loss that left Ember reeling.
“I don’t know how to express this level of emotion and heartache,” he wrote at the time.
Since the loss of his daughter, Ember has relied a great deal on his dog for support.
“I love Ghost,” Ember wrote. “I need Ghost.”
So when the husky went missing on Nov. 19, Ember was distraught to say the least. When word got around at the Citizens of Greene community Facebook page, many locals were distraught right along with him.
When Ember first reported his dog missing, he described it this way:
“A smart husky that knows where home is and loves home doesn’t just wander off and not return,” Ember wrote. “Ghost has lived with me for a year and has gotten free about five times, he’s really good at it. It’s usually been when company is visiting and the kids accidentally let him out, he goes and explores for a couple hours, then comes home.”
At first, hundreds of local people began getting involved with the drama. Soon after, it was thousands. In one estimate, at least 40,000 people from Greene and beyond had interacted with Ember’s Facebook posts one way or another.
The longer the saga continued, the more invested people became. They scoured social media for any hint of a white husky being found in one place or another.
“I was totally captivated,” Sheila Gurney, a former postal carrier in Greene, said. “Each post that came up for a white shepherd or husky ended up not being Ghost. It was amazing as to how many white dogs there were missing. For so long it was never Ghost. It was always somebody else’s dog. “
Every day, starting in the morning and continuing into the late evening, the people of the Greene community continued to share information with one another while awaiting updates.
Then, on Monday came exciting news.
“There may be a possible sighting of Ghost on Sanborn Road in Acton, Maine,” according to a Facebook post.
How did Ghost end up in a town nearly 80 miles to the south? No one seems to know, but the more information that came out about the sighting, the more encouraging it became.
“Now that they know the area in which he is in now,” Barbour said, “it’s like you’re on the edge of your seat — just so anxious to hear any bit of news and you just pray for the day they are reunited.”
As things progressed, an animal control officer in Acton found himself in the middle of all this drama. Ember had traveled to Acton and the mission to capture the wayward dog was underway.
With each new sighting of the dog further emphasizing the belief that this really was Ghost roaming the town of Acton, those on the Citizens of Greene Facebook page were naturally excited. Excited and willing to help in any way possible.
“GHOST!” wrote Deb Blanchette, in call capital letters to emphasize her glee. “What a emotional rollercoaster this has been with Ghost and James Ember for the people that have been following this.”
Blanchette also addressed Ember directly: “I would be more than happy to go to Acton and help bring him home,” she wrote. “Just say the word.”
Others were likewise keeping their fingers crossed and offering help in a variety of forms. Many were ready to help with veterinarian bills as soon as Ghost was in custody. Others offered to donate supplies, time and effort, whatever Ember needed when this stressful adventure came to an end.
Melissa Booker set up a fundraiser to help with medical bills should Ghost require treatment once he’s found. There was a sense of optimism about all of it. By early Thursday evening, more than $1,000 had already been raised for Ghost and more money was coming in.
“Most of us don’t even know James,” Gurney wrote, “but our hearts are with him as he tries to find his best friend. They are talking about having a town celebration and I think that would be a wonderful idea. … For once in this miserable world, I am seeing people genuinely care and come together for the sake of a lost pup and an owner’s love. Very heartwarming.”
By Thursday night, even strangers in Acton were jumping into the fray.
“Hi, Greene Maine,” Jennifer Lebida Dropski wrote. “I’m an Acton resident and Ghost is around where I live! There has been a sighting this morning. I’m hearing that he ate quite a bit of food last night and they’re going to try to trap him today. We’re all praying here and tons of people looking for him!”
Another woman in Acton wrote Thursday afternoon that “Ghost just ran through my yard!” With each passing minute, it felt more and more like Ghost and James Ember would soon be reunited.
Meanwhile, new threads were popping up all the time on Facebook.
“Is he home yet?” people wanted to know. “Is Ghost back in Greene?”
Early in the day Thursday, Ember posted an update from Acton, where he was sleeping in a camper provided by a local resident drawn into the story.
“James had a good night sleep,” wrote Acton Animal Control Officer Jim Driscoll. “He spent the night at Rob Dobson and Kassi Smith Dobson’s home. They opened their doors to someone they’ve never met but have genuinely become friends.”
Ember posted Thursday morning that he has seen Ghost with his own eyes and was certain that it was his dog. While the search continued, Driscoll had to turn to Facebook to discourage people from getting too directly involved in the search for Ghost.
“Please don’t try to catch him,” Driscoll wrote. “You’ll only force him away from our feeding station, which has taken us a few days to pull him in close.”
Ghost was described as “limping and exhausted” when he was last spotted. With bitter cold weather on the way, a greater sense of urgency inspired the searchers to capture the animal as soon as possible. Some Acton homeowners contributed by allowing Driscoll to set up traps in their garages in hopes of luring Ghost in.
Police officers patrolling nearby towns, including Wakefield, were also on the lookout for the dog. Driscoll and others continued their efforts into Thursday night.
“We’re all exhausted,” he wrote about 9 p.m.
“He’s a savvy little beast,” Driscoll wrote of Ghost, “but so are my helpers.”
With all that going on, it seemed like it was just a matter of time before man and dog would be reunited. On social media, prayers were offered and thousands were waiting for word back at home.
“Please, Ghost, come back,” wrote Becky Jasud of Greene, “so you can get the love and healing you need. We’re all rooting for you both.”
By Thursday night, Ghost remained on the run and the drama seemed destined to continue for another day.
If only he knew how popular he had become.