Achtung Hund: Lost Dog Responds to German

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- A lost German shepherd found wandering in traffic was rescued by an animal services officer who spoke to the pooch in German, an Animal Control spokesman said Friday.

Ziego, a 6-year-old German shepherd, may have escaped Tuesday after a gate was accidentally left open by a meter reader, according to his owners, Alice Hebenton and her 19-year-old daughter, Brooke.

The dog was spotted around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday along Canyon Crest Drive, near the UC Riverside campus, running in traffic, said John Welsh of the county Department of Animal Services.

UC Riverside police called for an animal control officer to help catch the dog, and Officer Tiffany Fuller responded.

"(Fuller) recognized a distinctive pinch collar on the male dog -- a telltale sign that the animal was likely a highly trained imported dog from Germany," Welsh said.

Fuller began speaking in German, ordering the dog to "platz," or freeze, and Ziego complied, Welsh said. Fuller then ordered the dog to "bleib," or stay, and Ziego obediently waited for Fuller to place a leash around his neck.                       

Fuller used to train search dogs and owns a 9-year-old German shepherd, Welsh said.              

Ziego was returned to his owners after they provided the proper documentation Thursday afternoon at the Riverside shelter, Welsh said.

"He's like a little kid," Brooke Hebenton said. "He acts like a puppy. He's playful and loves to run around. We play hide-and-go-seek games in the backyard."

Fuller drove from San Bernardino County on her day off to witness the reunion, Welsh said.

"We always love when we can save a life," Fuller said. "It's even more exciting to see an animal get reunited with its loving family."

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