Portia is home!
After three weeks and one day on her own she was spotted, and within about 40 minutes she was in the car, and within the hour she was back home.
We haven't seen much of the sun here lately. Sure there are the little teasers that get the birds chirping and me out into the garden, but there's still that chill. But yesterday was different. Saturday, March 18/23 was going to be sunny and maybe even kind of warm.
The weather was a welcome change because Find Portia 2.0 was scheduled. When we'd endeavoured with a search a couple weeks ago it was cold and rainy and windy - not great for postering and meeting people. But the sun can work magic.
I'd had dreams the previous night of losing things and then figuring out how to find them. I hadn't actually found the things because I can't often complete tasks in my dreams, but I knew I'd be able to. So at 8:45am I picked up my buddies Shannon and Tica along with Shannon's magical ChiChi memorial glass and we hit the road out to Sooke.
Once at the meeting spot everyone was feeling really positive.
We all said our hellos -- Sparky, Buddy, Tica, Louise, Jasper and Biggie (who wore his best tie and got a hug from Jillian) -- and then got our assignments. Our area was #4 on the map -- some private property we'd gotten permission to search. Shannon, Tica and I along with Biggie, a sleddie who came in to care the same time as Portia, and his person parked and chatted with a dog walker who kindly shared her insights on the wildlife beyond the gates. "Saw some bear scat so the bears are waking up these days. There are cougars out too so watch them, but the wolves are just curious".
No problem for us city folk (!!) and off we went heading past the gate and private property signs.
Even though there hadn't been any confirmed sightings of Portia, the idea of walking trails was more in the hopes of flushing her out of hiding than thinking we'd actually find her.
We happened upon a couple off-leash dogs and my first thought was 'get a photo in case their lost!', but one had a ball and it became clear, they just wanted to play fetch. Turns out they belonged to another volunteer. Phew!
All the other volunteers had done their walking and talking and it was mid-afternoon when we headed back to Victoria. I dropped off Shannon and Tica and headed home where I showered (we'd heard the ticks were also out in full force) and then hit the sofa for a nap. I guess most of the other volunteers were in the same boat as the group chat went quiet.
Then, at 6:30pm a message popped up in our group chat "Sighting at Amanda Plc. Anyone available? Jill and I are running out of bush"
And from that moment those of us who weren't there, just watched things the events unfold in messenger form... "If anyone can run out and buy bacon that would be super helpful!!", then the street names with typos, corrected street names, requests for house numbers, connectivity issues due to the remote location, screen captured maps, the name of the spotter... and more and more messages.... until finally...
"We have her!!!!!!!!!"
And then it was quiet for a bit more until finally we saw the photo evidence we were all waiting for...
She looked ok, but was she ok?
Yes, she was ok other than being pretty skinny and having a little sore on her paw.
More photos were shared and when the team had a chance to catch their collective breaths, we got the whole story of how Portia was sighted and subsequently caught on a remote, but thankfully somewhat residential, road:
Jill + Jasper, along with volunteers Deb and Val were out searching when a message came in to a local fb group that someone named Brett had seen Portia run through her yard...
“As soon as I (Jill) got into cell range, Brett called and said, your dog is 50ft away from me I will not let her out of sight. I drove up Clark road with Deb following and Portia was running down towards me with Brett following slowly behind in her vehicle. I pulled over, let Jasper out immediately and he wagged his little tail and Portia went right up to him. Then Portia did what Portia does best and decided she was done and started back down the road. Deb had blocked off the road so she had to think twice. Jasper went with Portia so I called him back and when I said “let’s go” Portia stopped and turned back towards me. She went past me and up towards where Brett was, then turned back and took off up the road we didn’t have covered. She ran, and stopped, and ran some more. Deb yelled at me to keep yelling “let’s go” and it worked. She would stop and come back down the road, think twice and turn around. Eventually, she came galloping down the road towards me. I sat down on the road and fed Jasper some treats and paid no attention to her until she was right beside me. She took a treat from my hand and I could tell that was it, she was done running and ready for me to get her. Slipped the slip lead over her head and she didn’t even flinch.”
Jill noted that once they got home, Portia (on leash) went into the house, straight to her bed and lay down.
We'll never know what event led to Portia being found today. Was it last weekend's time change which offered more light for a chance at spotting her at 6:30pm? Was it the abundance of outdoor enthusiasts and ATVs on the remote roads, logging roads and trails on a Saturday afternoon that spooked her out of hiding? Was it the magic of sunshine, dreams, the ChiChi glass, Biggie's tie?
Or was it just time and place?
Whatever it was, it was the best news and Team Portia is incredibly thankful for the Sooke community and the volunteers who helped keep Portia's magic alive for the past three weeks and one day.
Portia's survival while on her own is pretty incredible. Her family had only recently moved to the area, she's a senior, we had some terrible storms and even some snow early on, plus the area is vast and remote and there are lots of places to run and hide... plus, there's a lot of wildlife out there. But she's home and she and her family will now have time to decompress and heal... and (shhh) pop over to the vet for a check up.
Jill has kindly shared the photos below of Portia, home and safe and sound.