The next time your dog eats your favorite shoes or relieves himself on the carpet, just count to 10 and think of Lucille Little.

She misses her lost "Chipy" so much that the retired kindergarten teacher took out a full-page ad in the Battle Creek Enquirer offering a $25,000 reward to get her missing pooch back.The ad that ran Tuesday features three color photographs of the 18-month-old, tan-and-white cairn terrier and describes him as being about 15 pounds, 10 inches high and 15 inches long.

"What a dear little dog," Little, 73, said in a telephone interview Friday, recalling her California vacation with Chipy shortly before he ran away from home last Sept. 27. "I relive that trip all the time. I only had him for nine months, but I got so attached to him.

"I suppose people think I'm foolish," she added. "But I don't care what anyone else thinks."

After five unsuccessful months of stapling posters to bulletin boards with Chipy's picture and a reward of $1,000 - then $10,000 - Little decided to go the distance. A month ago, she hired a private detective, agreed to up the payoff for the pup to $25,000 and place the approximately $1,400 newspaper ad.

Ted Grevers of the Fatman International Private Detective Service of Battle Creek has taken about 100 calls from people who think they may have spotted Chipy.

"He's becoming one of the most famous dogs around," Grevers said. "I just hung up with a guy who thought he saw the dog in a car and gave me the license plate number. Another guy called me the other day at 3 a.m. and said he just saw Chipy. We immediately followed up - but nothing yet."

Grevers said that strangely enough, callers seem more interested in reuniting owner and pet than collecting the reward.

"It reaffirms my faith in America," he said.

Little said although she's not wealthy, she would double the reward gladly if she thought it would lead to the safe return of the beloved dog she bought in January 1990 at a pet store for $349.

"I've been the type that saved," Little said. "A person can always make money. What I care about is getting Chipy back."