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Doggone glad to be home: South Surrey Labradoodle home safe after 17 days

Casper found – with the help of many – at Nico Wynd Golf Course
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Casper was found safe after going missing for 17 days in South Surrey, thanks to the help of many. (Liz Ostereicher photo)

Casper likely slept more soundly Tuesday night (Jan. 30) than he did in more than two weeks.

The five-year-old Labradoodle went missing in South Surrey during recent below-freezing temperatures and a massive snowfall that blanketed the Semiahmoo Peninsula, but thanks to the efforts of many, he was found, safe and sound, 17 days after breaking free of guardian Liz Ostereicher at Crescent Park.

Ostereicher had driven to the park on Saturday (Jan. 13) with Casper for one of their usual walks.

“Normally we walk there, but because of all the salt on the roads I decided I would just drive to one of the trailheads. We had just got into the trailhead and Casper did what dogs do on their walks, and I put the handle for the retractable leash between my knees while I picked up,” she said Wednesday (Jan. 31).

“Between fumbling with my gloves and everything, I dropped the handle and it hit the ground, so he got totally frightened and he just tore off.”

Although she ran after him, “I never had eyes on him again.”

Other people and groups in the park reported they had seen him “flying past” as she frantically searched for him, and she continued the route they would usually take, but by the time she got to the sports fields at the park, no one had seen him.

“At this point I was frantic – I phoned my husband and told him what happened… I was stopping everyone I could see to see if they had seen him, family was coming out, friends were coming out and my sister started posting on Facebook,” Ostereicher said.

People on social media suggested Petsearchers, so she and her husband, Richard, contacted them and hired Al and Parker MacLellan, a father and son team who came prepared with a bloodhound and a thermal drone to help track the missing canine, who is also hearing-impaired in one ear.

READ ALSO: Team of bloodhounds used by Surrey-based business to search for lost pets

A woman who volunteers with Al came out from Chilliwack to put up posters and alert people in and around the Crescent Beach and Crescent Park neighbourhoods about the missing dog as well.

Ostereicher and her husband also reached out to a volunteer group, the Scent Rescue Team, and received an enormous amount of support via friends, family and social media, Liz shared.

“People were contacting us on Facebook, saying, ‘We’re going for a walk today, where can we walk?’” she said.

“It just was amazing, the number of people that offered help and reached out to my husband and I to join the search.”

While Casper’s scent was found, the dog himself proved harder to actually catch, with a false sighting proving to be in fact, someone else’s dog, and several people reporting possible sightings during the 17-day stretch.

“He was tucked away somewhere,” Al MacLellan said Wednesday (Jan. 31), noting that they never stopped searching for the dog, who must have been anxious, and caught his scent several times.

He noted the dog eventually, got himself out of the retractable leash, which had been attached to his harness, likely after it got caught somewhere.

On Tuesday morning, local Kwantlen Polytechnic University students Reilly Cowan and Danica Foster were at Nico Wynd Golf Course in South Surrey, where Foster works, and Cowan – who was FaceTiming with their mother at the time – noticed a dog on the green.

“I asked (Danica) why there was a dog running around on the green,” Cowan said Wednesday.

Foster thought it might be a dog known for chasing the ducks, but both quickly realized it might be Casper, after another course patron pointed out the missing dog poster.

“It was two feet away from me,” Cowan said.

“We called the number pretty quick.”

The pair knew they weren’t supposed to chase Casper, so as not to scare him, but jumped in a golf cart to follow at a distance, noting he had a winter jacket on, and a harness with what appeared to be a partial leash attached.

Despite the mud and dirt the white dog now sported, his piercing light blue eyes gave him away as the missing dog.

Another woman who was at the golf course also noticed the dog, and attached her dog’s leash to his harness, securing her dog with a scarf.

“So yesterday I get a call from Al that they have our dog! Oh, my gosh… I think there was a little bit of disbelief… it was very emotional,” Ostereicher said Wednesday.

“Casper, he’s doing pretty well – he was very happy to be home. He’s a little thin – he’s got an appointment at the vet tomorrow, just to kind of get checked over, and very thirsty,” she shared.

Casper was also very hungry, but she noted “we’re breaking down his meals and giving him more, smaller meals so his stomach can get used to it again.”

And talk about doggone exhausted.

“He’s tired. He crashed pretty heavy last night… when I got up this morning, he was still pretty flaked out on his bed,” said Ostereicher.

“And he’s probably going to need a few more baths. I carried him upstairs and got the bulk of it off, and even the towel that I first dried him with came away dirty, and I thought, ‘Good enough, he’s been through enough.’”

She noted MacLellan left them with a GPS tracking device and she said she has also, sworn off using retractable leashes ever again, because of the dangers of them snapping back and being scary for a dog or also, getting caught if the dog gets away.

“If only he could talk,” she said with a laugh, saying she and Richard celebrated his safe return with a nice glass of wine Tuesday night, although it might take awhile for them to sleep soundly.

“What a community we have here!” she said, saying how grateful she and her husband are to all of their family, friends and everyone involved with finding him, in person and through social media.

“Obviously, we couldn’t have done it without all of the people involved. It was just incredible.”



Tricia Weel

About the Author: Tricia Weel

I’m a lifelong writer, and worked as a journalist in community newspapers for more than a decade, from White Rock to Parksville and Qualicum Beach, to Abbotsford and Surrey, from 2001-2012
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