Henry, the Australian Shephard-Sheltie cross, is back home in Okanagan Falls, B.C., but it was a long journey to get back to his family.
Owner Duffy Baker said he did not expect to see the dog again, who had been missing for five months.
It all started in early July when Henry was at a trial placement on an Enderby area farm where Baker’s family thought he would get more exercise.
However, when neighbours lit off some fireworks, it spooked Henry and he ran off.
Baker said the farm searched for Henry for six days before contacting Henry’s original family.
“By the time they called us, who knows where he could have been,” said Baker.
Baker spent a day searching and thought he might never see the dog again.
“[It was] pretty devastating to spend the entire day there not knowing which road to take because there are so many trails and trying to take them all anyways,” said Baker.
“Me and the farm owner were driving around in my truck pretty much for around eight to 10 hours [and] could not find him.”
At some point, Henry made his way to Sicamous, which is around 40 km from Enderby, and people on the west side of the channel started spotting him on their webcams.
Residents weren’t sure if he was a stray, feral, or perhaps had an owner who was letting him out at night.
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“As it was getting colder, people were getting more and more concerned about this dog,” recalled Debbie Fortin operator of K911 Animal Rescue in Sicamous.
Fortin was contacted and eventually able to find Baker through social media.
Then last week, Baker’s family was told that there had been a possible sighting of their dog, five months after he went missing.
Once they saw a surveillance camera picture of the pup, Baker and his wife had no doubt it was their dog.
“It was surreal to think five months later he is here,” said Baker.
Fortin said once they had established that Henry had an owner, they needed to find a way to catch the dog, which had become feral, so they looked for a live trap.
They were able to borrow one from another animal group but efforts to use a live trap were unsuccessful, and Baker’s initial attempts to approach the dog seemed to spook him.
Baker, who had traveled to Sicamous to try to bring Henry home, ended up slowly driving away from the dog while tossing his hat and jacket out the window as “scent bread crumbs.”
It seemed to be working, so Baker started throwing anything he could find out of the car.
“He finally sniffed the shorts and then sniffed my hand and that’s when he put the paw on the step and kind of hesitated a bit and then finally jumped right on my lap. We just embraced and I started crying and he was howling and whimpering and licking my face,” recalled Baker.
“It was pretty surreal to get ahold of him.”
With the help of residents who initially raised the alarm about Henry, set up a feeding station to help with the trapping and tracking Henry’s whereabouts through the process, Baker says he now feels like his family is complete again.
“It was like a dream. It was pretty surreal to have him on my lap,” said Baker.
Baker was able to bring the dog home for his daughter’s birthday.
Fortin said dogs can survive on their own much longer than people think, so those who lose their pets shouldn’t give up.
“Once they are gone on their own for about three days, they kick into that survival mode and they know instinctually what they have to do: they den down, they eat berries, wildlife, whatever they have to do. They become avid hunters,” said Fortin.
“You would never think a couch potato dog would do that, but if they are left on their own to fend for themselves they just do, they adapt.”
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