Keeping up with the news can be depressing, with all the sad stories that routinely make headlines. Every once in a while, though, you came across one of those stories that makes you smile and bolsters your faith in your fellow human being.
This is one of those stories.
It’s the story of Shae, a feisty Shih-Tzu from Drayton Valley who escaped and disappeared during a recent visit to Jasper. Against all odds, this little guy survived for more than a week by himself while his owners searched desperately for him, with help from both friends and strangers.
It all started on Saturday, May 19 when Shae slipped under the fence at the dog park. His owner, Kara Siwiski, figures something must have spooked the four-year-old dog, as it took off running. She said the family “searched and searched” but couldn’t locate Shae before they had to return to Drayton Valley.
In their absence, the local community took up the effort. Shae’s story became a hot topic on Facebook, as local residents took it upon themselves to do their own searches and report back to the online discussion group, and directly to the Siwiski family.
“Tuesday I got a call from Leanne Standing, and she said there had been a sighting of him down by the Cavell apartment building,” Kara said. “So I drove back up (to Jasper) and stayed until Thursday and walked and walked.”
The search continued, but still to no avail. Kara had to return to work but her husband came back to Jasper on Thursday evening to keep looking. Meanwhile, local patrols continued and Tekarra Color Lab printed “Lost” posters which went up all around town. Jasper’s bylaw officers even pitched in, lending a live trap to the effort. But that, too, turned up empty.
Eventually, the family started to give up hope.
“By Saturday ... we were kind of thinking, you know, it’s been seven days, there’s no way we’re getting him back now,” Kara said. “We were kind of down.”
But in the early hours of Sunday morning, as the Siwiskis slept in Drayton Valley, Melody Gaboury was biking to her job as a nanny at a home in Jasper, along with her own two dogs, Diego and Leon. She arrived and wanted to go back to sleep initially, but couldn’t, so she decided to make a cup of coffee. As she looked out the kitchen window, she spotted a third dog out in the yard.
Melody went out to investigate, but the dog kept running away from her. Finally, she enticed it over with some food.
“It came right in with Diego and Leon,” Melody said. “I looked at the tag and I was like: ‘We found Shae!’ I couldn’t believe it!”
After posting the news on Facebook and being encouraged to call the Siwiskis right away, despite it being so early still, Melody decided there was no reason to wait.
“When we got the call at 7:30 on Sunday morning from Melody, we were like ‘We’re coming!’” Kara recalled. “And that was the fastest trip we ever made to Jasper.”
She said “there were a lot of tears” when the family was finally reunited with Shae, who gleefully gobbled up all the food and water he was offered after what must have been a harrowing eight days on his own.
“He was a little skinny, the poor little thing, but he was no worse for the wear,” Kara said. “He slept for a good three days when he got home. And what we’ve noticed since we got home is he doesn’t like to let us out of his sight. He likes to cuddle now.”
What struck Kara most about the whole experience, however, was the outpouring of support from the local community.
“We were so grateful for everyone in Jasper, for everything they did,” she said. “I have to say your community is fabulous.”
To show their appreciation, the Siwiskis donated a wildlife camera to be used in Jasper the next time a pet goes missing. The device, capable of taking infrared photos in the dark, can be set up at various locations to help look for lost animals.
While not “hard news,” I love hearing and telling stories like this. They are a welcome reminder that the world is a kind place where good things happen. There’s still one part of the story I’d really like to hear, however, as would the Siwiski family.
Shae’s version of events.
“This is the time when we really wished we were able to speak dog,” Kara laughed.
DISCLAIMER: The Last Word is an opinion column, it is meant to provoke thought and debate. As such, any opinions written here are the writer’s own.