Dexter the cat was reunited with his human Dianne Walters after 7 months apart. Dexter escaped in Pritchard B.C. while Diane and her family were evacuated and was only found on Sunday. Gail Robinson photo.

Evacuated cat finds his way home seven months after B.C. wildfires

‘He just decided he was going on a holiday — an extended holiday’

Gail Robinson and Mary Huntington are fans of happy endings.

That’s why they drove more than 600 kilometres in a snowstorm to deliver Dexter the cat to his home in Williams Lake on Wednesday.

The two are from Pritchard, a small community outside Kamloops, and their story, and Dexter’s, is one you can’t help but feel good about.

The story starts last July, as two cars stuffed with six adults, seven cats, two dogs, one rabbit and all the personal belongings that could fit, evacuated from Williams Lake at the height of the wildfires.

One car belonged to Diane Walters, Dexter’s owner, and the vehicles included relatives and a friend.

The group landed in Pritchard where Brian and Violet Hall, complete strangers, welcomed the group and set them up with a beautiful fifth wheel, litter boxes, accommodation for those who needed it and even a hutch for the rabbit.

“They said they’d take the critters and the people that you need,” says Diane.

Read more: Dogs and cats get love from volunteers in Kamloops during wildfires

“Everything was fine, except I have a cat, Dexter, who is used to coming and going as he sees fit. And he knows how to open screen doors,” she says with a laugh.

On the night before they were set to return home, Dexter got tired of the fifth wheel and headed to the hills, leaving his family none the wiser on where he went.

Despite a sighting a week later, Dexter had not been seen or heard from since.

Mary Huntington (left) and Gail Robinson (right) reunited Diane Walters with her cat, driving him up from Pritchard in a snowstorm. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

That is, until Gail and Mary got a phone call last Sunday.

The two, who are roommates, volunteer with the Pritchard Volunteer Fire Department, which sent members to Williams Lake, 150 Mile and 70 Mile House during the summer’s wildfires.

They were also on the front lines of the start of a wildfire near Pritchard during the summer.

This phone call was nothing of the sort, however.

The local ecodepot, a dump-transfer station, was calling to request aid for a cat trapped in one of the dump areas.

“They said, there’s been a cat in there since yesterday and we don’t have a long enough ladder,” says Gail.

Mary, Gail and another volunteer headed over.

“He sticks his head out from the cardboard meowing, ‘help me!’” says Mary.

Read more: Dogs stick with sheep through wildfire

While reluctant to get into the carrying case, Dexter was friendly, and the group soon determined he wasn’t a stray.

“He was so friendly and happy,” says Gail.

They put a picture of the cat on the Pritchard Facebook page, and didn’t get many results. They tried the next day, and still hadn’t determined who the cat belonged to.

Then, when they recalled a cat had gone missing over the summer during the wildfires, a friend suggested they post it on the BC & Alberta Emergency Livestock/Animal/Horse Evacuation Support Group.

Within an hour, they had located Diane’s family’s original posting and were in touch with a family member.

From there, Diane was only a phone call away, and Dexter a short trip to the vet to check his chip, before they confirmed the two belonged together.

“When I saw the picture, I had no doubt,” says Diane, noting her dog probably missed Dexter the most.

Two days later, Diane and Dexter were reunited, as Mary and Gail refused all offers to pick Dexter up and made the trip to Williams Lake themselves.

While a tad shy, (likely because of all the attention he was getting) it was obvious Dexter was happy to be reunited with his human.

“The fire department comes to the rescue again!” says Mary with a laugh, admitting, alongside Gail, they were remarkably touched driving to the Cariboo and seeing the welcome home signs that are still in place along local roads.

“He just decided he was going on a holiday — an extended holiday,” says Diane.

She says she had worried when the winter hit that Dexter wouldn’t make it home, particularly in a location heavy with coyotes, but the cat seems to have become an expert mouser.

He’s settling in now, says Diane, and he’s relaxing in the only place he can escape from the dog, who is “so excited to see him she won’t leave him be.”

As for Mary and Gail: they’re just happy to see Dexter home.

“I wanted to see the reunion,” says Gail.

“We wanted to see the end of the story,” adds Mary.


@Tspricker
tara.sprickerhoff@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Dexter is happy to be home, taking a perch out of the way of the dog who is “so excited to see him she won’t leave him be.” Diane Walters photo.

Just Posted

Muralist on board for Revelstoke’s LUNA Nocturnal Wonder festival

One of Kris Kupskay’s next projects is a mural on a 22… Continue reading

Chance of showers may not be enough to rid Okanagan of smoke

Wind and chance of thunderstorms competing factors in this week’s forecast

UPDATE: Darke Lake residents under evacuation alert

Fire crews battling wildfire in rural community west of Summerland

BC Wildfire crew rescues lost puppies

They were just leaving the Monashee Complex of fires when they found the cutest creatures.

Casual memberships now available through the Kootenay Carshare Coop

The Kooteany Carshare Cooperative is now offering a new casual membership. Waving… Continue reading

Filmmaker captures the smoke that enveloped the Shuswap

Check out this video of the haze that blanketed Salmon Arm

Smoke looming in Okanagan could affect wine

Smoke taint could sour this years vintages if ash falls on grapes

Vehicle fire on the Coquihalla

Heavy congestion in north bound lanes

Cool Creek fire near Princeton grows to 6,900 hectares

The Cool Creek fire is threatening recreational homes in high elevation north west of Cathedral

Columbia Shuswap directors allocates cash to secure rail trail funding

Money will help create trail network on former Armstrong to Sicamous corridor

Prime minister greeted by B.C. premier as cabinet retreat begins

PM Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan meet in advance of federal cabinet meetings in Nanaimo

Are your kids anxious about going back to school?

BC Children’s Hospital offers tips to help your children be mindful and reduce stress

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Most Read