His Rottweiler puppy, Rah, had been kidnapped Sunday night from the cab of his pickup, which was parked at Kwik Shop, 1714 W. 23rd St.
Tuesday night -- after two days of posting fliers and soliciting a friend to send thousands of e-mail messages to Kansas University students and faculty -- Wright got a call.
"It was like a kidnapping," he said. "They said, 'Meet me at Taco Bell in five minutes and bring some money.' It was straight out of the movies. It would be funny, except for the fact that it's my dog."
Rah, named for the Egyptian sun god Ra, is a 12-week-old, pure-bred Rottweiler that already has undergone special obedience training. Wright paid $650 for it about six weeks ago.
The 11 p.m. call came from an employee at Taco Bell, 1408 W. 23rd St. Wright had encountered the employee earlier that afternoon while passing out fliers about his dog at the eatery. The Taco Bell worker, name unknown, told Wright he knew who had taken Rah. The worker was the one who called Wright to arrange the night meeting in the restaurant's parking lot.
When Wright arrived at the parking lot with two friends for backup, the worker told him Rah was in a car parked in the corner of the lot. Wright approached the car and grabbed his puppy, which appeared unharmed.
The worker then asked about the $300 reward advertised on the flier, but Wright explained it was too late for him to get money from his bank. After a brief argument, Wright and his friends left with the dog.
On Wednesday, the employee telephoned Wright and said he didn't want the $300 but requested $20 for gasoline used retrieving the Rottweiler. Wright said three other men also called him during the day requesting the reward money.
Wright contacted Lawrence Police Sunday night when the dog was taken. He also contacted officers again Wednesday seeking advice how to handle the reward money, but he hadn't made a decision about it Wednesday afternoon.
Wright, a 26-year-old KU sophomore, owns Pinnacle Landscape Design. He said he often takes Rah to job sites, and on Sundays the puppy plays with children at the fields where Wright's friends play softball.
The missing Rottweiler also made waves at KU's computing center Wednesday. Wright's friend, KU senior Paul Nuzum, sent thousands of e-mails about the dog to faculty, staff and students who are using the university's new "Exchange" e-mail server.
Nuzum said he sent about 4,000 e-mails, but KU officials said it could have been up to 20,000. Nuzum sent the messages Tuesday evening from his computer at the Design and Construction Management department, where he works part-time.
The e-mail said the "puppy has a serious heart condition and needs his medicine."
Wright said that was a ploy to get the dog-nappers to take the animal to a veterinarian.
The large number of addresses included in the e-mails slowed the university's computer servers Tuesday -- especially for those accessing through dial-in accounts -- and caused headaches for programmers, who deleted undelivered messages Wednesday morning.
Beth Warner, KU's director of digital library initiatives, said the e-mails violated the university's usage policy, which says, "Spam, or unsolicited bulk e-mail, including chain letters, ... may result in the termination of your account privileges."
That's exactly what happened to Nuzum, whose e-mail account was terminated Wednesday. But Warner said the action likely will be temporary.
"We don't want to take too harsh a stance on this," she said. "He was trying to do a good thing."
-- Staff writer Terry Rombeck can be reached at 832-7145.