Elaine Sapach looked out her living room window Thursday afternoon, and couldn't quite believe her eyes.
"I looked and then looked again — where the hell did that sheep come from?" the Island Lakes resident recalled. It was just standing there, looking lost in the Winnipeg suburb. "I've seen deer and I've seen a fox, but not farm animals."
She ran to the kitchen to get her cellphone and take a picture but by the time she got back, the sheep was gone.
Sapach went outside and found the animal a few houses down, and took a photo of it in a neighbour's yard. The skittish animal kept lifting its front legs, and Sapach said she was scared it would bolt to the thoroughfare where afternoon rush hour was getting underway.
She called the Winnipeg Humane Society, which referred her to Winnipeg 311, which contacted the city's animal services. Sapach posted a photo of the sheep and her concern for its safety on her neighbourhood Facebook page.
The animal was soon spotted by one of her neighbours.
"She saw him book it toward Bishop Grandin (Boulevard)," said Sapach, who decided to try and corral the animal for its own safety.
She and her children, ages four and five, got in their van and drove around looking for to the sheep. "The kids thought it was a great adventure."
At Island Shore and Bishop Grandin boulevards, they saw it on the move, in traffic.
"It was just givin' 'er. It made it across. It was lucky," said the mom, who told her children to close their eyes "just in case it didn't."
The sheep took off toward Southdale and was gone, so they headed home.
When Sapach checked her neighbourhood social media posts, she cringed to learn the sheep was spotted at Fermor Avenue and Lagimodiere Boulevard at the height of rush hour.
Raelle Schoenrock of Kismet Creek Farm sanctuary, south of Steinbach, was offering guidance on Facebook to the searchers: "This animal is petrified, if you see him/her, you must move very slowly. Speak softly, and smile. Sheep can read human expressions and they respond to people who are happy, calm, and smiling."
The City of Winnipeg said animal services started receiving calls regarding the sheep at about 3 p.m. Thursday. It dispatched two vans to look for the lost farm animal, said spokeswoman Joelle Schmidt.
They were out searching for 2-1/2 hours, redirecting their search areas as more calls came in, Schmidt said.
"Unfortunately, animal services did not have any sightings of the sheep," she said early Friday. "There have been no calls since 6 p.m. (Thursday), but staff are ready to attend today if there is another sighting."
Apparently, no one had consulted Little Bo-Peep, whose nursery rhyme clearly explains "leave them alone and they'll come home / wagging their tales behind them."
Later Friday morning, Schmidt said she learned the sheep had been reunited with its owner "back home, unharmed."
She did not identify the sheep's home nor respond to a request to speak to its owner.
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.