ALEXANDRIA, VA (WJLA) - A neighborhood restaurant in Alexandria is adding some incentive in order to solve a well-known local mystery. Pork Barrel BBQ will serve up a year's worth of free food for whoever tracks down Houdini. The three-year-old red merle Australian Shepherd is living up to his namesake by having pulled off a wicked-fast escape earlier this fall.
"Eight and a half weeks later, we're still running behind him [and] trying to catch up to him," said Houdini's breeder Kim Gregg.
The New Jersey resident gave Houdini to a family in Del Ray who was considering adopting him. The family had bought the same breed of dog from her years ago. Sadly, Houdini slipped out their front door when they opened it a crack. It's a stunt Gregg says he's never pulled off or even attempted before.
"He's a very sweet-loving boy, very laid-back, and I just know he's scared to death," she said of Houdini's adventures.
Gregg drove in from New Jersey over the weekend with two of her other dogs in hopes Houdini would pick up on their scent. The sightings haven't stopped since he left the country and took off in the city in September.
"Sometimes you just got to step back and say, what if it were my dog?" added Jude Taylor, who is one of several dedicated search team members.
"I was riding by Monroe Street one night and I saw a picture or a poster on a telephone poll and it was for a missing Australian Shepherd," she informed. "I have three and I'm an animal nut so I'm like, 'I'm going to find this dog.'"
And she says the hunt for Houdini is turning strangers into friends.
"I love dogs," said Pork Barrel BBQ Owner Bill Blackburn. "I have two dogs myself and I would be devastated if we lost one of those." That's why he's trying to perk your appetite to find the missing Aussie.
"People [have] joked it [is] one of the most infamous lost dogs in the history of Alexandria," he added.
Plenty of dog lovers are convinced Houdini will go from "lost dog" to "found dog." He's been spotted all over Alexandria. A call came in on Veteran's Day saying Houdini was traveling on Van Dorn Street.
Part of the difficulty in catching him is people chasing after him. His breeder says that scares him off. Gregg suggests snapping a photo of Houdini and calling the "lost dog team" immediately at (609) 805-1413 or (703) 618-1998 with more information.
Updates on the search are being posted on the "Have You Seen Houdini?" Facebook page.