A dog in Saskatoon who got a lot of online attention after having gone missing for three days during a massive snow storm has been found safe by a cross-country skier.
“I’m just overwhelmed with how generous people were with their time and how helpful they were,” said Julia Neufeldt, the dog’s owner. “I honestly don’t know if I can ever truly convey how thankful we are.”
Louie is a year and a half old golden retriever. Neufeldt said on Sunday afternoon, a friend offered to take him to the Furdale Dog Park to get him out of the house for a bit. She took the friend up on the offer. But later that afternoon, the dog walk turned to panic.
“I got a phone call from her saying she wasn’t able to find him for about 20 minutes. And I mean, that’s never happened,” she said. “I flew into a panic.”
Neufeldt, her father and a few friends immediately drove out. They walked a couple laps as the snow was coming down but couldn’t find him.
People are still digging out after Sunday’s blizzard, which dumped upwards of 20 centimetres of snow on Saskatoon and forced the city to push Monday’s civic election to Friday after many voters were unable to get to the polls. Officials say it may be the “biggest-ever” snow clearing operation in the city’s history.
“You kind of assume the worst and it honestly kind of felt like searching for a needle in a haystack,” Neufeldt said. “It was like losing a member of your family. It was just devastating.”
Social media support
In desperation, she posted to Facebook what had happened and the people of Saskatoon took an interest.
“I thought maybe I would get like 50 shares, like some friends might share. But then it just kind of blew up,” Neufeldt said. “People that I’ve never met before, like complete strangers, were reaching out to me … it was kind of overwhelming.”
While Neufeldt was home with her seven-month-old boy, volunteers searched and sent her sightings when they saw Louie but no one was able to get too close to him. Then on Wednesday, Neufeldt, her family, friends and strangers went out for one last search. While walking around with blankets in hand, Neufeldt got a phone call from Saskatoon Animal Control Agency that someone found him.
Animal control connected Neufeldt with the person, who had been cross-country skiing when his dog Banjo pulled him away and led him to Louie.
“So we were sprinting as best we could through the snow in our winter boots and our winter attire and I’ve never had a more strenuous workout before,” she said. “We ran as best he could with a group of people [then] we saw him.”
‘Thank you isn’t strong enough’
Two of her friends had him at that point and Louie recognized them as they approached.
“I honestly just couldn’t believe it. … It was emotional for sure, but we’re all just so happy that he’s back,” she said.
Louie has lost some weight but is not too worse for wear, she said. After posting the good news, the support continued to pile in with well wishes and positive notes. At a time when people are told to keep apart, it just reinforced how strong communities are and how people come together, she said.
“Thank you isn’t strong enough,” Neufeldt said. “It was so unexpected. … You hear a lot of really bad news stories a lot of the time. But, like, this is a prime example of how the human spirit is good and people are willing to help. I’m just in awe of how the city just rallied behind us.”
Louie is grounded for a little while but he is getting grooming, food and lots of love. Neufeldt said she no longer gets frustrated about him wanting to go outside, then inside, then outside, then inside and is just glad to have him home.
“Our house felt really empty the days he was gone,” she said. “I just am so happy to have him home. Like, I’m not going to complain about his hair all over the house.”