They say dogs are a man's best friend or in this case, a woman's best friend. Meet Tonks, a seven-month-old French bulldog and her owner, Jocelyn Fulbright.
Her fiancé proposed to her on one knee, giving Tonks to her in lieu of an engagement ring. “You can't say no when somebody proposes to you with a puppy,” Fulbright said.
She was heartbroken when Tonks disappeared Monday evening from their North Oak Cliff backyard. They think the dognappers coaxed Tonks through the front gate. Fulbright and her fiance searched late into the evening but came up empty.
“I went to bed that night thinking that we were never going to see her again,” Fulbright said.
They reported the theft to the police. They were told a detective would be assigned in a couple days.
“Stealing a dog is the most painful kind of theft that can happen,” she said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think you can really get the help you need right away because I don’t think cops can be out chasing lost dogs because there are more serious things going on.”
On Tuesday, she and her fiancé woke up early. They made fliers and posted them all over the neighborhood.
An even lower point came when someone saw the flier and called her from a blocked number. They claimed that they had Tonks. “I was so elated. I was so excited,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness where can I meet you?' and then he just hung up.”
Then she knew she had been pranked. “I cried the whole way back to the car,” she said. “Who would do that?”
They scoured the internet. Her fiancé found an ad on Craigslist saying, "Interested in French Bulldog" from a vet technician hoping to buy a pup for less than $800. He sent the person a message and asked her to let them know if anyone tried to sell her Tonks.
“Sure enough, she replied back that she had been offered Tonks, who is now going by ‘Naomi’ and has a new collar,” Fulbright said.
The person trying to sell Tonks on Offer Up wanted $500. The seller erroneously described her as an “American pug.”
That's when her friend, Brooke Hillin, decided to play detective. She made a Craiglist ad saying that she was searching for a French English bulldog puppy.
“I just knew that a lot of times, when dogs were stolen, they were sold,” she said. “I just thought, 'Let's just give it a try.'”
Within 15 minutes, she received a message from a woman who said she had a puppy for sale. She wanted a $1,000.
The woman quickly followed up, sending a picture of a dog she was calling “Naomi.” They set up a meeting at a Mansfield pet store on Wednesday.
“I was just rally on pins and needles until the actual moment that they met her because it just felt like it was too easy,” Hillin said.
Other friends agreed to pose as the buyers. Fulbright and her husband withdrew a $1,000 from their wedding fund in case they really had to pay for Tonks.
Fulbright she said when she saw the woman, she ran up, snatched Tonks and explained that it was her dog. She decided on the spot that she was not paying the woman a $1,000.
The woman said she'd bought Tonks on Tuesday for $300 from the people selling her on Offer Up. The woman had recognized the dog was a French bulldog and was worth a lot more.
“She just looked very confused,” Fulbright said. “She didn’t look like she had any idea what was going on.”
The woman gave them the information for a person who sold her Tonks. Fulbright said they gave her the money and said she'd paid for the dog.
“It was just such a relief. I just took her, and I was crying,” she said. “Having her back made me feel so much better.”
Tonks is happy to be back home in the loving arms of her best friend. When they get married, Tonks will be wearing a dress to the wedding and will be a bridesmaid.
Needless to say, Tonks won't be going out alone anymore.