Now that they have been reunited with Rocky, Stephanie and Ryan can finally start their happily ever after.

By Madison Pincombe
October 27, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of Stephanie Woodward

Stephanie Woodward and Ryan Chalmers have had a crazy first few days of marriage. On Friday, minutes before their wedding ceremony in Rochester, N.Y., their dog Rocky ran away from one of their groomsmen.

Nearly four days later, Rocky was found and returned to his newlywed parents.

Rocky, a 2-year-old Alaskan Klee Kai, wriggled out of his collar after he arrived at the venue with the groomsmen. Woodward and Chalmers had split off from their bridal party to take photos at a final location. "It sounds like he just didn’t know where we were and he wanted to be with us," Woodward says.

When Woodward and Chalmers arrived at the church, they saw everyone outside and were extremely confused. They got out of the car and heard that Rocky had run off. "We got in our wheelchairs and Ryan went left and I went right and in our full wedding attire just started searching for our dog," Woodward says.

Eventually the couple realized that they were late to their own wedding. Understanding that Rocky didn't want to be caught at the moment and that they couldn't plan another wedding, they decided to get married. "We got married as quickly as we could, fed our guests as fast as possible, and changed out of our wedding clothes so that we could go back out and look for Rocky," Woodward says.

“I can’t function without him,” Woodward wrote in a message posted to Twitter after the pup ran off. Woodward's social media posts prompted complete strangers to show up and ask how to help. Rescue Treasures helped track Rocky's movements and set up safe traps with night vision cameras once they knew how he was circling the neighborhood. "They would bring fresh KFC every night to lure him to the crates," Woodward says.

Woodward's posts explained that Rocky is skittish and an incredibly fast runner. She encouraged anyone willing to help look for Rocky not to chase him or yell at him. “He knows his name and might come to a leash if you ask him if he wants to go for a walk,” she wrote.

Distraught after not being able to locate their beloved pup in the hours after he disappeared, Woodward and Chalmers slept at the church, where they set up “Rocky HQ” in hopes he would return.

Thankfully, Rocky was trapped early Tuesday morning and reunited with his loving owners. Based on the sightings called in, Rescue Treasures set up traps with night vision cameras in a wooded area near the church. Woodward and Chalmers received a phone alert any time the motion censored cameras took a photo. Eventually, Rocky fully entered the crate allowing the door to close.

The couple quickly made their way to the crate where they waited with Rocky for the trappers to arrive. They brought the crate into the church and opened it inside a bathroom so that if Rocky wanted to run he would have a safe place to do so. "He didn't, he just climbed into our laps," Woodward says.

Rocky is still recovering from his adventure, the pads of his paws are cut up and he's exhausted, but Woodward and Chalmers are so happy to have him home. "We could not be more grateful for the way complete strangers came together to help us," Woodward says.

"We didn't want that to be the story of our wedding, so we're just so happy to have him back so we can finally start to celebrate our lives together," Chalmers says.