Read on for an excellent account of “Juniper” – the dog who was missing this summer. You may remember that Juniper was from Portland and was not familiar with the trails or even the streets of Blueridge. It was due to some alert Blueridge residents that the dog was eventually found.
The dog that jumped out the window…
It was 4th of July weekend and as any true patriotic American would do we decided to take a road trip to Canada. We drove from Portland up through the Olympic Peninsula, took a ferry to Victoria, and ended our trip visiting our friend Christine in North Vancouver, before headed back to Portland. Or at least that was the plan…
Christine opened her beautiful home to my girlfriend and I and our very energetic 2 year old chocolate lab, Juniper. Before heading back to Portland Christine suggested we all go for a hike. While going for a hike on the beautiful trails Blueridge has to offer sounded dreamy, after 5 days of traveling and camping, the only one who had the energy for it was Juniper. So I loaded Juniper up in Christine’s car and they were on their way. Christine and Sheri headed out the Bottletop hike with four happy dogs at their side. Juniper bounded from one side of the trail to the other, splashing thru any water she could find and always checking back in with Christine and Sheri letting them know she didn’t go far. It was as if she’d never been on a hike before. Juniper was definitely a happy dog. The hike had come to an end and all the dogs loaded back into the car to head home. It was a warm day and everyone was hot, sweaty and panting so Christine opened the windows in the Jeep to let some air in. As she came around a corner just a couple blocks from the house she heard a strange noise from the back. That was the moment that none of us will ever forget. Christine looked back to where Juniper had been sitting and the seat was empty. She was gone. She had jumped out the window and was bolting towards the fruit stand at Emerson and Mt. Seymour Parkway. In the blink of an eye Christine had lost sight of her. I get a frantic call from Christine, “Meet me outside the house, your dog is gone! She only knows your voice!”
This was the first time Juniper had been to Canada and also the first time she met Christine so she did not recognize her voice or have any bearings about her. When I got the frantic call I actually wasn’t nearly as frantic as Christine, as I was confident that I would get to the bottom of the hill and call her name and she would come right to me. We drove around calling her name up and down the streets of Blueridge. 15 minutes became 30, 30 minutes became an hour, before we knew it we had been looking for over 3 hours. That first day we weren’t panicked. We were confident she would show up. How far could she go?
The search continued into the evening and after 6 hours of driving up and down the streets, walking the trails calling for her we officially started to panic. This was going to be tougher than we thought. As the evening approached and the sun was going down I was faced with deciding what to do next. My girlfriend and I had to be back in Portland by the morning but I couldn’t bear the thought of my June Bug out there all on her own. Christine and her amazing network of friends assured me that the search would not end if we headed back to Portland. So we left Juniper’s dog bed and made the 7 hour trek back to Portland, feeling empty and defeated. As we drove back, Christine and her friends walked the trails with cheeseburgers in their packs calling for her. The kindness displayed by people that hardly knew Juniper and I was overwhelming and it was only the beginning. It’s true what they say about Canadians.
That night we posted on every lost pet and social media sites we knew as well as the Blueridge Community Association who quickly notified everyone in their database that Juniper was lost. To our surprise the emails and phone calls started pouring in. People were genuinely concerned and willing to help in any way they could. We had never experienced the love and care of a community like Blueridge.
“I’m hitting the trails and will look for your dog,” wrote one person.
“I’m getting in my car now to search,” wrote another.
We also contacted Pet Searchers who immediately printed out posters and plastered them all over the neighbourhood. Juniper was a local celebrity!
It had now been 2 full days of searching and nobody had seen any sight of her. Then at 10 pm on day 3 Christine got a call, “We just saw your dog! She was on Ellis street near Dollarton Hwy headed north!” She then immediately called the Pet Searchers and they told her to take her dog bed and drag it from the corner of Emerson and Mt. Seymour Parkway all the way up to the house. Perhaps some communities would have ignored what looks to be a crazy lady dragging a dog bed in the street at 11 o’clock at night but not this one. Christine is met by a neighbor walking her dog and simply asks what she’s doing. After Christine tells her the story of a lost dog the friendly neighbor says, “well I’ll walk with you and keep you company.”
Meanwhile, I am still back in Portland but as soon as I got the text that my girl had been sighted I hopped in the car and drove through the night back to North Vancouver. As soon as I arrived I walked through Windridge Park and Windsor Park calling for her. I thought for sure if I could get my voice to carry far enough she’d just come running to me. Later that afternoon we got another call that she had been sighted again. This time she was on the Seymour Bridge looking down at the water. We raced over there within minutes but she had disappeared again too quickly. While it was difficult to be so close and not find her at least we knew she was still alive. The community kept our spirits alive and gave us the fight to keep searching. The emails from neighbors continued to come asking if she had been found and offering words of encouragement.
It was now day 5 and it had been more than 24 hours since the last sighting. Just as we were sitting down to eat dinner we get another call. Someone had seen her the night prior on the 10th hole of Northlands golf course walking towards the clubhouse. She was headed back towards us! Maybe she figured out how to use that sniffer after all. A few hours after that Christine’s phone started to be flooded with calls, “I’ve seen Juniper at the school,” then “she’s at the corner of Carnation and Berkely.” Neighbors came out of their houses pointing us in the right direction. As I was sprinting down Carnation St. someone pulls up and says, “hop in, I’ll take you to the end of the street.” A woman watering her flowers on Lennox St. said she just saw her and points me back toward Carnation. She can’t be far so I stood at the corner of Lennox and Carnation and yelled for her and ran down into the trailhead at the corner and yelled some more. I see woman walking very quickly towards me and she said, “I hear something in my backyard and I don’t know if it’s your dog but I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t come get you. I received a notification of a missing dog a few days ago so I figured she was close when I heard you out hear calling for her.”
This kind stranger led me through her family’s home to her back yard. Sure enough there was some rustling on the other side of some tall bushes. I said, “Juniper, is that you?” Immediately at just the sound of my voice her tail started wagging so hard it shook all the bushes and trees around her. I pulled her out from behind the fence and we drowned each other with hugs and kisses.
We got her home and fed her but she didn’t eat or drink as much as we thought she would as she was pretty distracted by all the love. She must have kept herself hydrated with all the rivers and streams that surround the area and I can only assume she learned how to fish because she smelled pretty ripe of dead fish. After some much deserved celebratory tequila shooters shared amongst the search party Juniper and I hopped in the shower to wash that stink off. Everyone slept like babies that night as all was right in the world again.
Mostly this story is about a community of people that care and help each other. It’s the first time in my life that I have experienced so much love and help from total strangers. The Blueridge community definitely has something special that can’t be found just anywhere. I’d like to thank all those folks who took the time to email, call, search and genuinely be interested in the positive outcome of this scary time. So many people in this neighbourhood have dogs and they do quickly become an important part of the family. Juniper and I are so incredibly lucky to have such a great friend like Christine and that she is surrounded by such a great community of people. Everybody learned a lot from this experience but most of all I learned about the kindness of strangers. There are some really great people in this world and they live in North Vancouver ,BC.