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Black lab puppy found after being stolen from Wellesley home

From left to right: The Nissenbaum siblings Talia, 13, Aleah, 11, and Aaron, 9, pat their dog Ember during a press conference at the Wellesley Police Department. Ember, their 8-month-old puppy, was stolen from their front yard in Wellesley but has been reunited with her family after an extensive search.
From left to right: The Nissenbaum siblings Talia, 13, Aleah, 11, and Aaron, 9, pat their dog Ember during a press conference at the Wellesley Police Department. Ember, their 8-month-old puppy, was stolen from their front yard in Wellesley but has been reunited with her family after an extensive search.Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

WELLESLEY — A boisterous, eight-month-old black lab puppy was reunited with her family in Wellesley following a frantic three-day search last week after she was quietly snatched from her owners’ front yard.

The puppy, Ember, who is the beloved pet of a five-member family, was tracked to a home in Framingham, where two suspects were charged in the alleged crime, police said

She wagged her way into a conference room in the Wellesley Police Department Monday afternoon, greeting reporters with licks and making a brief appearance at the podium.

“This was totally overwhelming,” said Illana Nissenbaum, standing alongside her husband, Neil, and their three children, ages 9, 11, and 13. “We’re just happy to have her back.”

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Ember had been tethered outside of the Nissenbaum’s home on Redwing Road in Wellesley to dry off after a swim in a nearby watering hole last Thursday when Illana discovered her missing.

Ember, the 8-month-old puppy, lays down during a press conference at the Wellesley Police Department.
Ember, the 8-month-old puppy, lays down during a press conference at the Wellesley Police Department.Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

“She doesn’t ever get out,” said Illana. “The only way that she gets loose is when she runs out the door.”

Ember was gone without a trace, leaving behind no signs she had somehow slipped out of her collar.

“Given that the leash was gone, and the clasp for the dog that was tied up in front of the house was still intact, [officers] determined the dog was taken,” said Wellesley Police Chief Jack Pilecki.

Talia Nissenbaum carried her dog Ember to a press conference at the Wellesley Police Department on Monday.
Talia Nissenbaum carried her dog Ember to a press conference at the Wellesley Police Department on Monday.Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

Ember, the family is quick to point out, is a fixture in Wellesley. “Famous,” as they describe her. She’s beloved by dog owners that have witnessed her off-leash walks, extensive knowledge of commands, and love of cheese. So when word spread that the puppy was missing, the community jumped into action.

“Everybody stepped up,” said Neil Nissenbaum. “I think my wife told me that in the morning the mailman, the UPS driver, and the police were all looking for Ember.”

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They did what they could to help as two officers spent the next several days trying to piece the incident together. Police knocked on doors looking for witnesses and obtained footage from security cameras and doorbells at nearby homes.

Eventually, a break came in the case. One vehicle kept showing up in the footage the officers reviewed. It appeared to have circled the neighborhood several times shortly before Ember disappeared.

Police traced the vehicle’s license plate to a Framingham resident, and on Sunday set out to find the puppy.

“After conducting a brief surveillance of the suspect’s home, they observed, in plain sight, Ember being let out into the yard from the suspect’s home,” Wellesley police said in a statement.

Police recovered the puppy, who was joyfully returned to her family unharmed at the Wellesley Police Department Sunday night.

A 40-year-old Framingham man was arrested on the scene and arraigned in Dedham District Court on Monday, police said. Another suspect, a 32-year-old woman, also of Framingham, is to be summonsed to court and arraigned at a future date. Their names were not released by authorities.

They are both charged with receiving stolen property over $1,200 and conspiracy, officials said.

Pilecki said the suspects told police they were on the way home from the hospital when they spotted the dog and thought it may help them feel better. That explanation, he said, was “not really plausible.”

The Nissenbaums lauded Wellesley police Wednesday, saying they took the search seriously and aided the family every step of the way.

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“They were just so calm and reassuring and kept our hope up,” Illana said. “We just felt really in good hands.”

They’re not concerned with the consequences the two suspects will face in court. Instead, their attention is on their adored Ember, who made a point of rolling over, tongue ajar, while her owners recounted the incident.

“She’s brought us together as a family,” said Illana. “She is just brilliant.”


Andrew Brinker can be reached at andrew.brinker@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewnbrinker.