Five and a half years ago my family and I fell in love with a pair of brother and sister Cockapoo puppies that we excitedly brought home. The male was blonde, like our son, and the female was honey, like our daughter. The kids named them Charlie and Lola, the names the children almost got instead of Sam and Daisy.
On Monday, March 23 I lost sight of our beloved pets down by Powers Creek in Glenrosa, West Kelowna.
I’d been hiking with them in the woods behind Last Mountain Park like I’ve done hundreds of times when the energetic pair heard a bird or something and whipped up the hill. My friend and I whistled and called their names, expecting them to circle back like they typically do, but they kept on racing. We followed the trail up and around, anticipating they’d reappear, but they didn’t.
Sticking to the route, we finished the hike and headed the two blocks to my house imagining they must have found their way home as they’ve done in the past. Lola was waiting there, but Charlie was not.
“Don’t worry,” Karen said. “He knows his way. Remember that time this happened before and he got himself home?”
After letting my kids know that Charlie was missing and to listen for him, I ventured back into the woods with no success. My husband left work early and along with Sam and Daisy and my best friend, Kari, we took turns continuing the search, discovering nothing.
I called the SPCA, Dog Control, all the veterinary clinics and put ads on local media sites as well as Facebook. Hundreds of kind people shared the post to spread the word and as the hours ticked by we started to panic.
What if he’d gone the wrong way and was hopelessly lost in the forest? What if a wild animal had attacked him?
We cried ourselves to sleep that rainy night, worried sick over our sweet furry boy. As soon as it was light enough in the morning we took Lola and continued our search, laying out worn pieces of clothing and blankets that carried our scent along with bowls of water in the trails where I lost him.
Over the next several days we put up hundreds of flyers and shed countless tears as we searched for Charlie who is tagged, tattooed and neutered. And then a young lady said she saw him four blocks from our house on McIver and McRae Road Wednesday afternoon. She hadn’t realized he was lost so she didn’t try to coax him over. “Wish I’d seen this post then,” she wrote on Facebook Thursday night.
A little boy also said he saw a small white dog that looked like Charlie running down McIver. When I asked him when that was he said “tomorrow.”
We continued to search in the woods and on the streets, as did so many of the incredibly helpful people in our neighbourhood and beyond. But now, a whole week later, we still haven’t a clue as to what happened to our precious pup, and the hollow feeling of distress is all consuming. As each day passes our feelings of hopefulness are replaced with helplessness.
We did everything that was recommended and more. I even looked into hiring a pet detective with a Bloodhound, but because Charlie didn’t use anything that would specifically have only his scent attached, that option wasn’t available to us.
All we can do now is continue to look a few times a day, keep the word out and hope he’s alive, trying to make his way home, or being taken care of by someone who hasn’t reported him yet.
Our family has been struggling emotionally, but my extreme feelings of guilt have been overwhelming. Why did I let our dogs off leash? Why didn’t I have a pet tracker device on them?
The answer to the first question is that unless a dog needs to be contained, most people let their pets run gleefully free in the woods while walking behind.
Charlie and Lola were at their happiest doing just that. The answer to the second is that I’d never heard of such a thing until recently. I’ll certainly be ordering a pet tracker device now.
Sam and Daisy are only 14 and 11 years old, far younger than I was when I first experienced significant loss. I suppose they’re learning what we all experience in life— that grief won’t kill us and it is safe to feel sad.
If we never see Charlie again, our sorrow and heartache will eventually transition to all the amazing and loving memories we have of him. But if we’re lucky enough to find our glorious guy alive and well, his four people and one sister will be elated and grateful beyond words.
Come home, Charlie. Please come home.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com.