You can find joy near a dock -- even in winter. The Desrosiers family did. Last week, they discovered their nine-year-old missing dog, Dozer, under a loading dock. He'd been lost since Nov. 18. With a great deal of help from the community, Dozer is now home where he belongs.
Cheryl Desrosiers, Dozer's owner, didn't sit idly by when her pup went missing. Despite blowing snow hampering the search, she and her family went into immediate action the minute they noticed Dozer and his canine mate, Cyprus, went missing from their yard. Desrosiers suspects they must have escaped through a hole in the fence. Her husband and nephew combed the streets in a car while she searched on foot. Cyprus was found within two hours. Dozer wasn't as lucky.
It took six weeks of family, friend and community assistance to locate this friendly dog. During the first few weeks after Dozer ran off, there were several sightings. One report described a dog matching Dozer's description lingering in a store parking lot where he was being petted by passers-by. Another placed him in St. Norbert, many kilometres away from his home near Polo Park. By the time the Desrosiers reached the locations where Dozer was spotted, he'd be gone.
Sightings decreased over the holidays, but the family continued to hope. Desrosiers needed to know what happened to her pup even if it meant that she discovered that Dozer had been hurt or worse.
It was 51 sleepless nights, said Desrosiers. As she described her story, she became overjoyed again by the happy ending. She exclaimed: "January 9th is officially the New Christmas." It's the day she got the present she most wanted.
They did all the right things when a pet goes missing. Family and friends searched the streets daily. Desrosiers regularly contacted Animal Services and Winnipeg Humane Society to see if there was news about Dozer. The Facebook-linked service, Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert, heightened public awareness. Likely moved on by Desrosiers' devotion to finding her "fur baby," even strangers helped by stuffing mailboxes with lost-dog flyers.
Desrosiers is grateful to everyone who helped, but particularly lauds the assistance of three individuals: Shawn Mitchell, Vera McCallum and Cindy Kasprick. Mitchell, who works at National Fast Freight, found Dozer there. The dog was limping and trying to find food under a dock. Mitchell fed Dozer and reported his location. McCallum put out the call for help to local animal rescues. And Kasprick received the email (at nearly 2 a.m.) and posted it to Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert. The Desrosiers had their dog back the next morning.
Despite being weak, Dozer leaped into the truck when he recognized his owners in it. Once home, the first thing he did was search through his dog toy box for his cookie ball. Everyone's thrilled to have him home, especially Cyprus.
Dozer was so feeble the Desrosiers had originally arranged to have her daughter pick up and care for Cyprus while Dozer recovered. He had shrunk to 30 pounds from 87 in six weeks. But the second Dozer realized his buddy had been removed from his home, he began "to holler and cry," she said. Cyprus was immediately brought back.
Dozer is recovering well despite having lost so much weight. He's on a handful of pills for issues with his liver and thyroid, but his spirits are high.
Desrosiers was committed to finding her pup. She said, "I walked away from my job over this." Her employer wouldn't allow her to use sick days to search for Dozer. Some may not agree with this decision, but pet lovers certainly sympathize with what she was going through. You could say that she was sick with worry.
The family is thankful the winter has been mild. Had we experienced the -30C temperature Winnipeg typically experiences, Dozer wouldn't have survived, said Desrosiers.
She's even more grateful for the selfless acts of dog-lovers in the Winnipeg community. In a way, "this was a blessing in disguise," she said. The kindness of strangers -- to stuff mailboxes, follow dog leads and spread the word about her dog -- astonished and humbled her. The ordeal "makes me want to be a better me," she said.
Desrosiers is committed to helping to spread the word about lost pets. She advises people to license their dogs. She also urges citizens who see roaming dogs to call animal services, the Winnipeg Humane Society and the Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert.
She's now collecting blankets, towels and bowls to offer to rescue groups. Having been on the receiving end of our pet community's generosity, Desrosiers is happy to give back.
In the pet community:
Pet Valu Charleswood, now located at Unit 12-3900 Grant Ave., invites you to its fundraising day in honour of Safe Haven Pet Rescue, as part of its grand reopening celebration. The event will be held on Jan. 21, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. There will be refreshments and draws for goodie bags. Collections of food and cash donations will be taken for Safe Haven. For more information, contact Lesley Clark at 896-616.