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(and thankfully found)

Copyright Laurie Mann

Music: Looking Through The Eyes of Love (Melisa Manchester)
Midi sequence from

Paw Bar

Safe at Home - Photo and story copyright 2007 Zila Doucette

Our Heroine and Our Amazing Bichon

a true story by Zila Doucette

Copyright 2007 - Zila Doucette

(not to be reproduced without permission of the author)

It was a very hot day at the end of July when my husband and I left to visit my sister and her family in Windsor, Ontario.  We brought along our 2-year old Bichon Frise, Kelly, whom we had just acquired two weeks prior. Kelly was quite shy and nervous with all the new sounds and people she was meeting because she spent her first two years with her breeder and knew no other life.  For that reason, we decided to take her along with us in the hopes of acclimating her. 

When we arrived in Windsor, Kelly stayed close to me and was nervous in yet another strange house. We sat outside on the deck to have a cold drink. It must have seemed to her like there was no escaping the heat and the unfamiliar faces and surroundings. She just could not relax and she did not eat at all.

The next day, we left Kelly in the air-conditioned house while we went out shopping. While we were out, my sister’s grandson, Michael arrived at her house. Shortly after his arrival, the doorbell rang and when Michael answered it, Kelly bounded out the door and continued running as fast as she could. Both Michael and Colleen (the lady who rang the doorbell) tried to catch her but she disappeared into a huge field that was full of trees, underbrush and tall grass.

When we returned and heard about Kelly’s escape, my first thoughts were that she would not survive.  She did not know the area nor about streets and traffic nor how to fend for herself. I felt sick inside.

Immediately, we started our search by driving around the perimeter of the field.  From the highway  which was higher up than the field, we spotted Kelly running. We pulled over to the shoulder and my husband, Dave, ran down the embankment but she spotted him coming and quickly ran into hiding. While we were combing through the fields, we met a lady who introduced herself as Colleen and told us that she was the lady who rang the doorbell and that she felt very badly about the dog escaping. We assured her that it was not her fault and told her that Kelly was shy and nervous.  She asked if we would like more help with the search and we accepted her offer.  Her teenage twins and older daughter arrived with some of their air cadet friends. It was encouraging to have young legs going through the field.  Colleen took them home at supper time but said they would return later.

Sure enough, one hour later, they all returned and were eager to get on with the search.  By 9:30 p.m. it was getting dark and there was no sign of Kelly.  How guilty I felt inside knowing how scared my little dog must be. Colleen went home and quickly returned with lawn chairs for us to sit on.  We were very hot and tired but did not want to leave the field so we sat there watching the stillness of the field until 11:00 p.m.  Dave went to my sister’s house and brought back some dog food and a dish of water just in case Kelly surfaced when everything was quiet.  As tired as we were and as comfortable as the bed was, neither of us slept much that night.

Day 2 started at 6:00 a.m.  Colleen came to the door and told me that she and her daughter had gone walking after we left the field the night before.  They did see Kelly and called her but she ran very quickly away from them.  With high expectations, we immediately left the house and went to the area of brush where they had seen her.  That was the start of another long day of searching that ended up with us sitting in the chairs until 11:00 at night again without any sign of Kelly. We went back to my sister’s house feeling hopeless, guilty and sad.

Day 3 started out with a loud clap of thunder followed by pouring rain.  My first thought was that Kelly must be terrified.  That was, if she was still alive.  I quickly got dressed and went out driving around the perimeter of the field again.  Within minutes, I spotted Colleen driving towards me.  An hour or so later, with the rain still coming down and the humidity on the rise, we decided to go to Colleen’s house, have some coffee and try to come up with a plan. We called every animal shelter and veterinary clinic within a ten  mile radius.  They all asked for a description and where she had been seen last and took our cell phone numbers. Colleen’s teenagers made a poster on the computer and ran off many, many copies.  They inserted each copy in a plastic protector sheet.  Colleen and I drove them around as they placed the notices
on anything and everything that was standing.  We placed an ad in the local paper.  We advertised a reward on the posters and in the newspaper.  I started to feel a bit positive now that we extended the search.  But going through my mind were thoughts like, was she run over by a vehicle?  Is she hungry?  Is she hurt? Is she still alive?”  We still kept looking through the field and finally returned to my sister’s around 11:00 p.m.

On day 4, we started receiving responses to the ad in the paper.  Several people informed us that Kelly had been seen on their street.  It surprised us that she was now quite far away from the field. It also added some hope to the situation…hope that someone would bring her in and notify the shelters.  Each time that we followed a lead, it came up empty. Now, we were literally walking the streets.  We split up and knocked on doors and asked people walking or riding bicycles if they saw a little lost white dog.   Each day, we contacted the shelters and hospitals and each day we heard, “Sorry, try again tomorrow”.  During all this time, Colleen was working on a paper for a business course she was taking.  She told me that she could not concentrate on her paper because she was so concerned about Kelly so she asked her instructor if she could have an extension.

This lovely, young mother was determined to find our Kelly.  Every day she was armed with enthusiasm and hope.  She started and ended each day with a bright smile and cheery words. We offered to pay for her gas and she outright refused.  No matter where we went Colleen was right there and full of energy.  She would not let us give up even with the heat and humidity, mosquitoes and rain.  She sent an e-mail to a radio announcer whom she knew from the baseball team on which her teenagers played.  She requested that he put out a call for help in the search for a lost small dog who was visiting with his owners from Toronto. She said that it would be very sad if the elderly couple had to return home without their little dog and urged the people of Windsor to extend a helping hand.

Day 5 was much the same as the others.  We were starting to doubt if we would ever find her. The phone calls were coming in but there was never any sign of Kelly when we got there.  We were told by some  people that they saw her and she was very dirty and that she ran very, very fast.  Others told us that they tried to catch her but she was too quick on her feet. Was someone feeding her?  Where was she getting this energy? Our daily routine ended much the same as the day before…frustrated, sad, hot, tired and hopeless.

Day 6 was the day before we had to leave for Toronto.  It was really our last chance to scour the parks, the fields, the school yards, church yards, anywhere and everywhere a little dog might be.  And that could be anywhere…. Despair and desperation were setting in.  How could we just leave her??? Colleen assured us that she would continue the search after we left.  We knew that she would.  That was the kind of person she was.  We split up like we always did at supper  time and were headed back to my sister’s house when Dave’s cell phone rang.  It was Colleen’s son yelling with excitement that they had spotted Kelly in a park. They had called out to her but she ran under a large tree that had low hanging branches and they didn’t want to scare her so they stood back from the tree and called us to come right away.  We rushed over to the park as fast as we could possibly go and, upon our arrival, there was Colleen and her teens crying and pointing to the tree.  As we approached the tree very slowly, I called out her name quietly and when I saw the big brown eyes looking at me, I started crying and repeating her name as she slowly came out of hiding.  Kelly was crying and wagging her tail when I approached her and picked her up.  She was full of burrs and mats and oh so dirty but she was alive. Now we were all crying and hugging each other.  It was one of the most emotional but rewarding times of my life.

We brought Kelly home, took her to the vet to be thoroughly checked and we have never looked back.  Colleen and I keep in touch on a regular basis. Dave and I consider ourselves  extremely lucky to have met such a caring, giving individual.  We can never thank her enough for her unconditional support.  We refer to her as Kelly’s guardian angel and our heroine.

Copyright Kiyomi Ochiai


Kelly - Safe at Home

Copyright 2007 - Zila DoucetteCopyright 2007 - Zila Doucette

Here are some links to help you in your search

 Help! I've Lost My Pet! 

How to Find a Lost Cat or Dog 


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