UPDATED: January 23 2018, 09:45 MT
A Yellowknife man’s pursuit of his lost dog, missing for more than a week but sighted numerous times, finally ended happily on Monday.
“Please keep an eye out for Lee,” Stanley Christensen wrote on January 13 to members of a Facebook group for missing pets in the Yellowknife area. Christensen said Lee had last been seen near the city’s Bigelow Crescent, but added the dog “lives out past Yellowknife River so is unfamiliar with the area.”
Lee spent the next 10 days getting much more familiar with the area. Reported sightings of the dog stretched from Range Lake to Kam Lake and were received by Christensen at regular intervals – but none resulted in a reunion. Christensen insisted “I’m not gonna lose faith” as attempts to trace Lee remained unsuccessful.
On Saturday, Tia Hanna – who runs Happy Pooch, a Yellowknife “doggy hotel” and pet care business – sought to help Christensen by setting two live traps for Lee.
Two days later, that plan worked.
“I have my own trap now because I’ve had so many dogs I’ve needed to catch,” Hanna told Cabin Radio, referring to dogs reported lost by owners throughout the city.
“On Monday morning I saw her go into one trap several times to steal food without the door closing, because the snow was interfering with the trigger, so I ended up moving the trap.”
With the trap out of the snow, Hanna added more food and backed off. Lee, having already raided the trap that morning, could not resist.
“She looked at us suspiciously but couldn’t help following her nose,” said Hanna.
“She was freaked out in the trap but so sweet at my place in the warm,” Hanna wrote on Facebook, before publishing a video of Christensen’s long-overdue reunion with his dog.
“Lee! How are you doing, my girl!” Christensen can be heard exclaiming, as Lee excitedly jumps up to greet him.
“It was so funny. When she’s inside, she’s the sweetest dog. Outside, she was one of the most skittish dogs we’ve ever seen,” said Hanna. “In the trap, she was barking and snarling at me. Inside, she immediately came over for rubs. She kept nudging my hand to rub her more.
“When Stanley came in, she jumped up and was licking his face. It was really sweet.”
The post was flooded with appreciative comments from Yellowknifers who have been following Lee’s lengthy journey.
“You and your team are my hero,” wrote Gaby Barbier. “So happy you found her.”
“Oh if she could only talk,” said Joanne Peters. “I would love to hear all about her travels.”
Hanna says she’s no longer surprised by dogs that survive on Yellowknife’s streets for extended periods. She believes Miramar, a dog she captured and is now caring for herself, had been living wild for more than three years, while another dog she trapped in similar circumstances to Lee had been loose for almost two weeks.
“Lee was skinny, you could see her ribs,” said Hanna. “When I caught her she was shaking, but I think it was being scared more than being cold.
“I’m not surprised she survived but I’m 100 percent certain it was very miserable, she was cold and hungry, and all her instincts were at full blast.”