With their unconditional love and often over-the-top energy, dogs have a way of doing more to raise our spirits and help through tough times than even our longest-standing pals. But sometimes, the intensity of the bond we share with our pets can make a bad situation worse. Just ask Rosa Nese.
Rosa shared a friendship with her eight-year-old yellow Labrador that she wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world. Her dog, by all accounts, was one of the brightest lights in her life. So when she was separated from her beloved pooch in a truly bizarre series of events, she felt like a part of herself was missing—and she was willing to go to extreme measures to feel whole again.
In June 2016, lifelong East Boston resident Rosa Nese faced a tremendous tragedy. First, she suffered the sudden loss of her mother. Then, just two days later, her childhood home burned to the ground. Obviously, she was facing tough times. Luckily, she wasn’t alone.
Throughout this seemingly unbearable time in her life, Rosa was supported by her eight-year-old rescued canine, Chief. “He’s basically a lovable yellow Lab. Friendly, he loves everybody and everything,” she said. Her adoration for Chief couldn’t be overstated.
“He rescued me, actually,” Rosa admitted. “I can’t wait to come home from work every night and see him.” Huge photos of Chief even dwarfed pictures of her kids on the refrigerator! But this love only made the events of May 5, 2018, so much more catastrophic.
On that Saturday, Rosa brought Chief with her to visit her mother’s grave. On the way home, she stopped at Saratoga Market on Trident Street (pictured) to buy lottery tickets. She left the car running—with the AC blasting—so Chief could continue napping in his doggy bed.
Rosa was only in the market for six minutes—from 8:45 a.m. to 8:51 a.m.—but when she returned, her 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe was not where she had parked it. In fact, it wasn’t in the parking lot at all!
Rosa’s mind raced, and it didn’t take long for the panic to set in. After all, more than just her car was missing—so was Chief, her beloved dog! “I started screaming ‘Chief, Chief, Chief,'” she said. Unsure what else to do, she called the police.
Rosa’s panic only grew when she considered Chief’s health. The pup had “severe allergies” and even needed prescription dog food. Without someone to give him his special medication, he would be in trouble. She had to find her dog as soon as possible.
When police arrived at the Saratoga Market, they promptly examined the security footage. Luckily, the cameras pointed directly into the parking lot. Surveillance showed a man with a bright green backpack casually opening up Rosa’s running car and hopping in.
But Rosa wasn’t just concerned with seeking justice for this man’s crime. “I want [Chief] found safe,” she said. “That’s all I want. No questions asked… I really don’t care about the car.” If the thief just dropped Chief off at a precinct and kept the car, she’d have been happy.
While authorities searched for the car thief, Rosa and her friends set up headquarters in her apartment—now with an empty dog bed—and searched for any sign of her beloved Labrador retriever.
One of those friends, Sandy Caparella, helped because she understood just how much the dog meant to her friend. Rosa “just couldn’t catch a break, mentally, emotionally, physically,” Sandy said. “Chief was just everything she needed.”
So, Rosa and her friends took action. They began scouring nearby neighborhoods for her white Hyundai Santa Fe, which sported an Italian flag on the rear and would be easy to identify. At first, they didn’t find much…
Strangely, footage from the shop had captured Rosa’s SUV returning to the Saratoga Market a little after 11 p.m. the next day, but the driver never stepped out of the car. After spotting someone outside, he turned around. Worse was that there was no sign of Chief.
Meanwhile, in her apartment, Rosa heard news of a lost dog wandering around the nearby Revere Beach Parkway. Right away, she packed up and began walking along the busy road, hoping that it was her precious pooch. But she couldn’t find her beloved dog anywhere.
John Phelan / Wikimedia
The longer Chief was missing, the more that others heard her story. A local Facebook group called Harbor Hounds posted Chief’s photo on its page and told followers to keep an eye open. Rosa was touched by the community support—but would she ever find her furry friend?
Then, at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 8, a breakthrough came. A security guard at Woodlawn Cemetery named Mario Delloiacono had checked on a car without front and rear license plates; it had been parked on the premises for a very long time.
The rear window of the car was down, and when Mario looked inside, he saw a happy yellow Labrador staring back at him. It was Chief! “We just erupted,” Rosa recalled after she heard the news. “I just fell to the ground when I saw him.”
Missing Dogs Massachusetts / Facebook
That wasn’t all. Later that day, authorities arrested David Brady—caught sneaking around with his green backpack—and charged him with the theft of Rosa’s car. Still, Rosa wasn’t concerned with justice.
Rosa was far more focused with Chief’s safe return home! “He’s just a happy dog, he really is,” she said. “He makes me happy. It’s him and I. I have him back, and I’m going to move on.”
While it wasn’t clear what happened to Chief during his two-day disappearance, it was a fortunate turn of events that Brady left the kidnapped dog with the car. While Rosa was so grateful for Chief’s safe return, another family across the country was praying for the same good fortune…
It was November 8, 2018, and Miguel Camacho was hanging out at a park in West Tampa, where he was studying for a test to receive his journeyman electrician’s license. He was getting ready to start a new career to provide for his family.
Just minutes away from the grade-defining test, he broke from studying for a little mind-clearing R&R. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and began scrolling through his social media feeds until a particular post caught his eye.
It was a video of a kitesurfing dog, and everyone was losing their minds about it. The black and white Jack Russell Terrier balanced the board and managed the kite rod like a real pro.
This talented dog was owned by Dimitri Maramenides, his wife Helen Trotman, their daughter Olivia, and their 16-year-old son Cameron. The family was made up entirely of surfers who spent every weekend on the beach and on their boards.
Cameron had been surfing since he was only 6 years old. Everyone who knew him could see that he was a natural and would someday make it big in the world of professional kitesurfing.
Outer Banks Magazine
In fact, young Cameron was recruited by Team USA and was set to compete in the 2020 summer Olympics. Him and his family — Zues included — were all at a kiteboarding competition at the north Skyway Bridge beach a few days before when something terrible happened.
After the Maramenideses looked away for a split second, they turned back around to notice their dog Zeus had been stolen! The family was desperate to get their dog back and spread the word of Zeus’ abduction.
Now, remember Miguel? He’d been sucked down the rabbit hole of Zeus YouTube videos and noticed that the latest featured Cameron pleading that people keep an eye out for Zeus. He’d been taken by a middle-aged white man in a gray Sedan.
At first, Miguel felt sympathetic to the family and the pup but didn’t give the story much more thought. However, right when he was about to put his phone back in his pocket, he noticed a gray sedan pulling up — and a middle-aged white man got out of the car.
It looked suspicious at first, but there are plenty of white men driving gray sedans. Still, something kept Miguel alert, and soon the strange man opened the car door and a black-and-white Jack Russell Terrier jumped out to do its business.
Miguel quickly dialed the phone number left in the video’s comments and to his relief, Cameron picked up. When Miguel quietly described the dog in the park to Cameron, he replied: “Hey man, that’s my dog!” Miguel then quickly called the police but they told him they could take no action without the owner present.
Once Zeus had finished, the man pulled him back into the car and began to drive off. Miguel didn’t have time for this. He had to make it back to school for his test. You know, the one that would determine his grade in a crucial class!
Miguel, though, didn’t want to let him out of his sight. He jumped into his own car and began following the sedan, aware the man ahead of him could very well be dangerous.
After several miles, the man pulled over and got out of his car. “Why are you following me?” he barked at Miguel while approaching him aggressively. “I don’t think that’s your dog,” Miguel calmly responded. “Of course it is!” the man yelled.
So Miguel called out “Zeus!” Excited to hear his name, the dog jumped out of the car and ran towards Miguel, who quickly scooped him up and beat a hasty retreat from his abductor!
After saving the dog, Miguel returned him to his family. “We are still pinching ourselves to see if we are dreaming,” said Helen Trotman, wife of Dimitri Maramenides. “We are so fortunate Miguel was there and was willing to put himself into a possibly dangerous situation to get our dog back.”
Unfortunately, the chase took Miguel longer than he’d have liked. In following the sedan and rescuing Zeus, he missed his engineering test. This, he knew, meant he’d failed the class. His dreams were dead.
But the Maramenideses dulled the sting a little when they asked whether Miguel wanted to receive the $3,500 reward via cash or check; he had no idea what they were talking about. He hadn’t done it for money, he just wanted to save Zeus. Still, the Maramenideses insisted.
While Miguel was worried that he wouldn’t get his engineering license, the extra cash came at a perfect time before the holidays. “I have two kids,” Miguel said. “I’m gonna do some Christmas shopping for them and put the rest in their savings accounts.”
But best of all? His professor had a little surprise for him too: after hearing what Miguel had done, the electrician teacher was impressed by Miguel’s courage and good heart, so he agreed to let him take the test he had missed!
Miguel risked his safety and his exam grade to save the dog of a stranger and reunite a family, a good deed some people would not have even considered. The Maramenides family will definitely keep a closer watch on Zeus from now on — but they’ll keep taking him out for some surf sessions!
Tampa Bay News courtesy of Helen Trotman
Even though Zeus’s kidnapping was extremely emotional for everyone involved, the fact Miguel was able to make such a selfless sacrifice to bring the family back together is what restores faith.