A special holiday reunion between a dog and her owners has taken a sad twist.
Talia, an 18-month-old female golden retriever/cocker spaniel cross, arrived in Winnipeg from Colombia late in the evening on Boxing Day -- only to go missing the next day.
Around 10 p.m. on Dec. 27, Talia escaped from the yard of a home in the 200 block of Glenwood Crescent after she was let out to relieve herself. The dog had never seen snow before and isn't accustomed to the cold.
The family believes the dog ran out of the backyard in Elmwood, across the frozen Red River and is somewhere in the area of St. John's Park at Main Street and Cathedral Avenue.
Lourdes Villa said her 11-year-old daughter, Carolina, is devastated by the loss of her pet. She's been giving Carolina all-natural sleeping pills so she can get some much-needed rest from worrying about her dog.
'I was so happy, I was thinking she's going to be really surprised with the snow and I'm going to buy all these things for her'
"My little girl is taking tranquilizers because she's been crying every night. We looked the first night until 2 a.m.," the mother said, through tears.
The family has been searching day and night for Talia, has placed notices on social media and has contacted the Winnipeg Humane Society and the Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert. The family plans on monitoring Kijiji in case someone finds Talia and tries to sell her online.
Lourdes said they moved from Colombia to Winnipeg four months ago without their dog. She is starting a new life here after separating from her husband.
A big part of their happiness would be to have Talia with them.
"She's a cutie. She's a beautiful little dog and that's what also scares me, because I know the person that found the dog will fall in love," said Lourdes.
"I don't want to have negative thoughts but I just hope that someone understands that that dog belongs to someone."
Flying the dog to Winnipeg was made possible thanks to financial contributions from the Villas' extended family members.
"That was my daughter's Christmas present. For four months here she cried for her dog," said Lourdes. "When I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she said, 'I want my dog.' "
It was supposed to cost $700 to ship Talia from Colombia to Canada. Once the dog arrived in Toronto, the family was charged an extra $200 to fly her to Winnipeg.
WestJet doesn't usually transport pets between Dec. 15 and Jan. 6, as part of its holiday restrictions, hence the $200 surcharge.
After a 10-hour flight, the special pooch was met by Carolina at the airport late Dec. 26.
"I was so happy, I was thinking she's going to be really surprised with the snow and I'm going to buy all these things for her. And the next day we left her here (at Carolina's aunt's house) and she got a little bit nervous," explained Carolina.
"Dogs, I guess, they just get nervous and they just run, they don't stop!" added Lourdes.
The dog has no collar or tattoo to identify it -- the Villas planned to get a licence for Talia after the weekend.
Talia is in good health but has six stitches on her right shoulder from a recent surgery. She only responds to Spanish commands, such as "Ven aqui (come here)" or "Siéntate (sit)".
Needless to say, the family hopes an animal lover finds their furry friend soon.
"If someone calls my mom even at five in the morning, and says 'I have your dog,' then I'll say 'OK let's go right now,' " Carolina said.
"I don't care if it's five o'clock in the morning or midnight, I just want my dog back at my house."
If you have any information about the missing dog, please call the Villa family at 204-430-6615, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.