Our friend Portia is still missing.
It was Friday, February 24th when she bolted out the front door of her home when the plumber arrived. It's not something she would normally do.
Local social media groups who help find lost pets were notified and people sprang into action. Posters were made and put up around the community of Sooke, BC where she's lost.
Sooke is district about 45 mins north of Victoria. It has a growing downtown area with some residential pockets, but it's pretty much surrounded by large rural properties on three sides and the ocean on one. Where Portia went missing from is full of Private Properties, farms, acreages, trails, wildlife -- and lots of places where a dog who's likely in survival mode now, can make itself unseen.
There have been a couple potential sightings since Portia went missing, but none confirmed so a search party was set up for Saturday, March 4th. The maps and areas to search were organized by Erin, who also set up a home base to keep track of everyone. It was cold and rainy and windy and at the forefront of everyone's mind was Portia, a senior sleddie who came into care in April 2021. Portia is very sweet, but very leery of new people. And while she's a cuddler at home, she needs her brother Jasper for support. And it turns out Jasper is really missing his Portia.
Volunteers drove around the rural areas checking out what maps couldn't show. Marked trails were walked and new trails were forged. With snow on the ground in some spots, volunteers watched for paw prints. More larger posters were put up and people handed out small posters and chatted up anyone they came across.
As I was driving around I would keep seeing things that I thought were Portia… or places where she could be hiding. But it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, in a field of haystacks. Where do you start?
At one point I ran into some family who lives out there and since he knows the area, I popped in for a visit and he - along with the help of his dogs - showed me some areas our group could search. (Thanks B, A + E!)
The Sooke terrain felt familiar with its dead-end rural roads, trails to who-knows-where, moss-covered rocks, lakes and streams, and it took me back to 2015 and the time I joined Deb on one of her trips to search for Apex.
Apex had been Deb’s foster dog and after he got adopted, he went missing. For five months he survived on his own in the rural areas outside of Sechelt, BC, until he appeared seemingly out of nowhere on a fish farm dock, safe and in reasonable health (save for some weight loss and a few ticks) [https://www.iwasasleddog.com/blog/finding-apex]. So armed with Apex’s remarkable story and the many other tales of lost dogs who are found days, weeks, months after going missing, it gives me a sense of hope in finding Portia.
There was a lot of groundwork laid by the volunteers, so along with other work going on behind the scenes including scent markers and trail cams we’re all just waiting for a confirmed sighting. Something that provides us with an area to focus the search. So while Saturday's search party may not have yielded anything concrete this time, the eyes and ears are open and word about Portia is spreading.
Some from our sleddie community came out to help too and I managed to connect with a few of them: Stevie + Peach, Sparky + Buddy (and l'il Koda Bear), Argus and Twister. And some of them even gave a “one-ear flop” in support of their friend Portia.
Thanks also to head greeter, Cedar, who provided some smiles on a very gray day and did her part by forging through some snow with one of the volunteers.
If you're able to help with posters or searches, please let me know.
Thanks so much to everyone who came out to help!
Our second meet up of the year was a great success!
17 sleddies along with one honourary sleddie came out to the woods to run, romp, trundle and get their paws muddy.
We started with a group photo, and then met up in the woods with some more friends and another photo op. Some were off leash and weren't too happy with having to stop the adventure so soon after starting, so it's a bit of a group-photo mash up with wayward dogs wandering in all directions!
In addition to old friends reconnecting, some new friends joined in! Twister, who came into care in March 2022 got adopted last spring so came for his first group walk, and Spinner, who it turns out is Jasper's brother! They have the same cute snouts and soft, floofy-ish coats.
With so many attendees it made for a long line of humans and dogs on the forest trails so I tried my best to capture everyone along the way. Some gave me lots of chances as they ran from the front of the line and back, likely putting on 10x more mileage than the rest of us and others made me work a bit to find them along the way.
All in all, it was a great little adventure and I'm so glad were 2 for 2 with groups walks this year!
As usual, I include a whole host of photos so you can join along virtually and share in those split-second moments of head tilts, facial expression nuances and body language changes... all without getting your feet muddy.
Thanks to all who came out... I'm looking forward to March's meet up already!
Sleddie Roll Call: Apex, Mary Kate + Roo, Argus Arwen, Clyde, Jack, Jasper + Portia, Samwell, Sparky + Buddy, Smokey, Spinner, Stevie + Peach and Twister... and honourary sleddie Tica, who was a great little sister to ChiChi.
In the wilds of Victoria, a small group headed out for some forest bathing. Clearly, some took that 'bathing' part quite literally by 'bathing' in some dead animal on the side of the path and 'bathing' in the mud. But clever Stevie actually did some bathing (and drinking) in the stream.
This small group included new arrivals Jack and Peach, along with more experienced retirees, Stevie and Portia, and the fella who's known the ropes the longest in this gaggle of sleddies, Jasper. The group was intentionally small this time so that new-into-care Peach could meet up with a friend from her working days, Jack, as well as hopefully some new friends... and she did.
Before we even got started on our walk, a familiar face showed up in the parking lot - it was Penny Stone, who heads up the Victoria Humane Society (VHS) and has been helping sleddies into care for over 10 years. VHS is the rescue that has made it possible for these 5 sleddies and many, many more, come into care. They cover the food, vet care, meds, as well as spay/neuter surgeries, dentals and whatever else is needed to help these sleddies along. And even though Jack was recently neutered, he still wanted to say hi to Penny.
Across the road and down the hill we went into the woods. Leashes came off for Jasper, Portia and Stevie. Off-leash time for Jasper and Portia meant they ran circles around us and put on a lot more milage than the rest of us. Stevie, though off leash, stays pretty close to his human and the rest of the crew. Jack and Peach were pretty jazzed about it all, but their leashes (and GPS trackers) stayed on, with off-leash time saved for another day when the humans get to know them a bit better and they get to know the humans. In the meantime they got lots of loves and treats as both are VERY snuggly.
Words that came to mind when editing this photo set: Jack's ears, Stevie the sentinel, Peaches the snuggler, Jasper the zoomer, Portia the smelly (after rolling in the dead stuff), digging, happy, adventure, brave, love.
Some new friends were made along the path, photos ops were had and when it was time to go, Jack said farewell.
Jack is currently reviewing his potential adopter applications and once Peach will be doing the same in the near future.
Thanks to the humans J, G and J for letting me tag along, once again and of course to Jasper, Portia, Stevie, Peach and Jack for being so perfect.
Peaches arrived into care last night. I couldn't be there so arranged to meet up today at her foster home and boy oh boy is she a sweetie. And she's a teeny, tiny girl too!
Not even 24 hours in care and she's reportedly making herself quite comfortable in her foster home and patiently allows her eye drop regimen to happen.
We went for a walk along their street and back, keeping it short and low stress. But once we got back to the house, Stevie put on the brakes while passing the car, so the door was opened for him and he hopped in and Peaches was right behind him. The rest of the photo op will have to happen another day, because a walk in the woods is Stevie's happy place. So, sporting her best harness/collar/double leash/ GPS tracker look, Peaches had her first walk in the nearby woods with her... and she apparently said hello to everyone she met!
In the photos, you may notice she's only taking treats on the right - that's because her two main teeth (from what I could see) are a canine and molar on her right. Because of her eye problems, she seems to be quite vision impaired as well. Her sibling is Pumpkin, who came into care last January and had a lot of eye issues, which have since been sorted out and he's been adopted and living a fantastic life. So we're hoping the same will be true for the sweetest little Peaches.
Peaches is in the care of the Victoria Humane Society. Once she's seen the vet and had her medical needs met, she will interviewing for her adoptive family... unless one of our sleddie community scoops her up first!
Here are a few more photos from our walk...
Thanks to Deb for chauffeuring her into care and to her amazing foster family GP and Stevie.
p.s. AND YES, there are extra photos of her EARS... because THEY'RE THAT CUTE!!