By Nandini Jayakrishna
A white and brownish Saint Bernard, at the center of a mysterious disappearance of an elderly man in Hingham this week, has a new owner, at least temporarily.
Animal Control Officer Leslie Badger is taking the dog around town, in the hopes that people will recognize him and provide clues to his missing owner.
As of Friday afternoon, she had not met with much success.
"We're pretty much in the same place as we've been so far in this case," Badger said. "We're trying every angle possible."
Hingham police are searching for the elderly man who walked the Saint Bernard every morning near Accord Pond - a reservoir that supplies water to several South Shore communities. A manager at a Chili's restaurant in Hingham called the police Wednesday when the dog turned up without his owner -- a white male who, locals said, appeared to be in his 70s.
On Friday, police let the dog loose in the woods near the pond, hoping he would lead them to a house, but he simply walked around and did not try to leave the area.
"We've done everything we can do," said Lieutenant Michael Peraino, a Hingham police spokesman. "We're just hoping that with all the publicity somebody will come forward with some information, or the owner will come forward."
Peraino said the major concern of the police is finding out whether the man is alive, though now they are considering the possibility that he abandoned the dog.
Meanwhile, both Badger and Peraino said the dog is visibly upset. During the day he walks or drives around with Badger; at night he is taken to a kennel at the Old Derby Animal Hospital. Many people have called, offering to adopt him.
"When we had him in the police station [on Thursday] he did a lot of crying," Peraino said. "I think he's missing his owner."
Many people in the area saw the man frequently walk his dog early in the morning on streets near the pond. But none ever talked to him or knew his name and address.
Reham Shady, 33, who works at Fabricare Cleaners and Tailors, said she would often see the man, wearing a gray sports jacket and walking slowly with his dog.
Maurice K. Succar, who owns a Getty gas station close by, said he waved to the man occasionally but never talked to him. He described the dog owner as tall, healthy and athletic.
On Wednesday, divers searched Accord Pond for nearly four hours but did not find any articles or remains of the man, Peraino said. Police also contacted A Child is Missing, a Florida-based nonprofit that seeks to locate missing children, disabled and elderly within the first few hours of disappearance, Peraino said.
The organization made more than 1,500 phone calls to homes and businesses near the pond on behalf of Hingham Police Thursday night., Vice President Claudia Corrigan said.
Peraino said police received six phone calls as a result, with information regarding two old men seen walking in the area. But one did not have a dog and the other owned a Beagle, not a Saint Bernard, he said.
A microchip, usually used to reunite lost pets with their owners, was found embedded in the dog's body but led the police to a dead end - a West Roxbury pet store that is out of business.
For more coverage of Hingham, including earlier accounts of the missing man, go to boston.com/hingham.