A Shuswap couple who were toasting to the weekend with a glass of wine on their deck ended up saving a small dog’s life.
Community members from Malakwa to Chase came together when word went out over social media about an elderly couple who had lost their four-pound Yorkshire Terrier along Highway 1. Gidget got away as the out-of-town couple parked their motorhome to rest near Chase before making their way to Malakwa, where they were staying, said Shelly Mitch, a local resident who helped with the rescue endeavour.
Mitch joined the hunt for Gidget on the fourth day of the dog’s disappearance. Donna Meads, a dog groomer from Sorrento who has facilitated animal rescues before, got involved as well after seeing a post on social media. Meads said she realized Gidget’s owners weren’t internet-savvy enough to use the tool to their advantage and had been looking in the same place they’d lost the dog, instead of in places where possible sightings had been reported since she went missing.
Gidget got away around 10 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, and Meads saw the post on Monday, May 8. By then, the tiny dog’s owners were worried she couldn’t survive much longer and Meads said she was eager to help. She said she noticed comments from a construction worker near Chase saying he saw the dog and was wondering if the owners were still looking, as there wasn’t much engagement on Gidget’s original missing post.
Meads wasn’t able to contact the dog’s owners for the first few days, she said, but kept searching, placing live traps and following tips from workers at the same Chase highway site. After connecting with the owners’ daughter and then Gidget’s mom, Marion, she learned the couple came from the B.C. coast and were unfamiliar with the area and landscape of the Shuswap. On Tuesday, May 9, Meads and the couple looked until dark, setting the traps with items familiar to Gidget. Meads had blasted the lost dog post across social media, she said, and was now garnering much more awareness and help in the physical search. Marion has had two hip replacements and neither of the pair could walk far or look under things.
On Wednesday, May 10, Meads headed home after an early evening of searching, and Mitch took over, meeting Marion and her husband and walking along the nearby train tracks for nearly four hours. By 7:30 p.m., Mitch said Gidget’s parents were about to leave to get a hotel when Patricia Simpson, a nearby homeowner, drove up to the small search party, saying she’d seen Gidget.
Patricia and her husband Darcy were enjoying a glass of wine on their deck when they saw the small dog stranded on the island in the river near their Chase home. Darcy went to get his kayak to paddle over to the island when Mitch arrived. She said Marion’s husband got into another boat they found on the shore to join him.
Gidget was running around, confused and scared, and went into the river water where she was pulled back a bit by the current and her owner was able to catch her, Mitch said. The small dog was then handed to her and Mitch said she wrapped Gidget in her shirt to keep her warm and returned her to her parents.
Likely, the rising water filled the river rapidly and stranded Gidget on the island, said Mitch.
Meads has offered free grooming to clean up the burrs and matted fur Gidget collected during her week-long adventure.
“A glass of wine and a peaceful sit on a dock saved this little dog in the end,” said Mitch. “Best feeling I’ve had in a long time was handing this little survivor to her mom.”