LeeAnne knew something was up right as she walked into her home after returning from a friend's birthday party. "Normally my dogs, like, you can't imagine, they go crazy when anybody walks through the door. They're like, 'Oh my God, somebody loves us!' And so I walk in the door and they weren't here. And so I sat down at my computer and started going to work. And my sweet man [her boyfriend Rich Emberlin] comes in and goes, 'Hey, babe, are the dogs with you?' And I was like, 'Oh my God, no, and they didn't greet me,'" LeeAnne recently recalled to Unleashed. "And so we start running through the house, screaming through the yard, they're nowhere."
Just hours before, LeeAnne had been getting the sweetest messages from fans gushing about her adorable pups, who were featured in the most recent episode of RHOD when she memorably dressed herself and Carly up in matching hot dog costumes for a doggy Halloween costume contest (you should definitely relive that in the clip, above). "It went from the funniest, best night ever to Nightmare on Elm Street. And Freddy Krueger was just looking at me like, 'Yeah, bitch, you're up,'" LeeAnne said of what it felt like to come down from that high of pride for her pets when she realized her dogs were missing. "I wanted to come home and be like, 'You two were Twitter stars tonight.'"
So LeeAnne and Rich did what any pet owner searching for their beloved animals would do: They hopped in their cars and drove around the neighborhood searching for them until two in the morning when Rich finally sent LeeAnne home to go to bed. "So I went home and I had to take some sleeping medication because I could not go to sleep. I was just crying non-stop," she said. "And then he kept driving around. I woke back up at 5. They still hadn't been found yet."
A few hours later, LeeAnne woke up and started driving around again in search of her dogs. As she texted everybody she knew about the situation, one friend suggested that she check out the website Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods where people post about a wide variety of topics, including lost animals. So LeeAnne typed in her address. "Within 30 seconds, there was a picture of both of them and this woman saying, 'Found these two dogs wandering at this street and this street.' And I was like, 'That's only two streets away!' So it was, like, only six in the morning, so I was like, 'I've got to go, I've got to get in my car.'"
A screenshot of the posting about LeeAnne's lost dogs on Nextdoor. Photo: Courtesy of LeeAnne Locken/Nextdoor
LeeAnne drove to the street, and lo and behold. "All of a sudden, [Carly] pops up on a three-foot brick fence and is wagging her tail like, 'Mommy! Mommy, I'm over here! Mommy!" LeeAnne recounted.
And Chief was thankfully there, too. LeeAnne picked up her dogs, put them in her car, and showed her appreciation to the family that found them. "I was hugging her so hard, this woman was probably like, 'Oh my God, you're breaking my rib, and I don't know you. Please stop hugging me,'" LeeAnne joked. "I was like, 'Thank you so much!'"
LeeAnne brought her dogs home, and soon, she received a phone call from another member of the family that found them where she heard the full, amazing story. "He was like, 'It was the weirdest thing. We were watching The Real Housewives of Dallas, and then all of a sudden, we see your dogs. And we're like, 'Oh my God, those are the dogs on TV,'" LeeAnne said. "He goes, 'I truly believe your dogs came to my house because they heard your voice on our TV.'"
In that moment, LeeAnne was grateful for her, shall we say, unique voice. "I'm like, 'Oh my God! Thank God I'm loud,'" she said. "Whenever I do commercials locally and they'll be sitting with Rich on the sofa, if they see a commercial with me come on, they look at the TV and they start looking around. Rich says all the time they recognize my voice all the time."
LeeAnne added, "I love that the show is how they got found, really. It's a miracle, and I'm just grateful."
It was actually lucky that that family was there to save her dogs at all. "They were moving. They actually, I think, today were already gone. They were moving, they were building a house on the street over, and they were renting that house," LeeAnne said. "They're gone."
Though this isn't the first time that Carly has gotten out of the house, (LeeAnne said she's "an escape artist"), she has never wandered off so far before. "She's gotten out before, but we always find her within 30 minutes because we're so on it," LeeAnne shared. "And I felt so guilty for not being here and not noticing they were gone. [Rich] felt horrible for not noticing. It was just a night of just torture and pain for us."
After Carly and Chief's night out on the town, LeeAnne said that all her dogs wanted to do when they got home was sleep. In fact, it doesn't look like they'll be leaving the house by themselves again anytime soon. "They won't leave my side. If I'm gone, they stay by Rich. If I'm here, they stay by me," LeeAnne said. "They're like, 'No, we're not going. No, no, Mommy, we don't need to go pee. We're good. We're gonna watch you. We just can't be away from you anymore.'"
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