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Child’s missing toy dog is now a social media celebrity

Joliet Park District seeking owner of the little stuffed dog Odie

The song, “The Place Where the Lost Things Go,” in the 2018 file, “Mary Poppins Returns” states no object is really lost forever – “only out of place.”

Such is the case with Odie, a stuffed dog that was left behind at the Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet for about the last week. A maintenance worker found him and brought Odie to the front desk, according to Sue Gulas, president of the Joliet park board of commissioners.

“He got lost by a child, we assume,” Gulas said.

Odie may be lost to his owner. But Odie is not lost.

In fact, Odie has become a Facebook celebrity, thanks to Becky Werner, the director of the Joliet Park District’s Little Sprouts preschool program, who’s shared photos of Odie’s adventures at the nature center in the hopes of finding his owner, Gulas said.

“After she did the first one, it just went crazy and people were sharing it,” Gulas said. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”

In the meantime, Werner has introduced Odie to the nature center’s living animals: Mulder the fox snake, all of the turtles and Sky the hawk, while overall acquainting Odie with his new environment, Gulas said.

“She’s had him on one or two trails,” Gulas said. “And there’s one of Odie looking at a map.”

Gulas said the nature center has shared Odie’s story publicly but the news is still “just on Facebook.”

“If these people are not on Facebook, they won’t see it, no matter how many times we share it,” Gulas said.

Odie might belong to a Joliet resident, Gulas said. Or he might belong to a family that simply passed through Pilcher Park and stopped at the nature center, which is the park district’s “free museum,” Gulas said.

“Everyone” is worried about Odie and want to know if they can adopt him if his person doesn’t return, Gulas said.

However, it’s more likely the nature center will adopt Odie if his owner isn’t located. However, the community can “adopt” another animal at the nature center – a real one.

Gulas said the nature center has an “Adopt an Animal” program. The money from that program is used to care for the nature’s center’s animals.

Or people can donate to the Joliet Park Foundation, which the Pilcher family began many years ago, and “earmark” their donation to the nature center, Gulas said. Visit jolietpark.org/joliet-park-foundation.

Join the “Adopt an Animal” program by stopping at the nature center. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, Gulas said, and is located at 2501 Highland Park Drive, Joliet.