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Penticton family dog rescued after five months on the loose in Sicamous

Penticton man Duffy Baker with his three dogs, including Henry on the far right.
Penticton man Duffy Baker with his three dogs, including Henry on the far right.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Duffy Baker

A dog in Sicamous was finally rescued after spending over five months outside evading capture and his family in Penticton cannot be happier to have him back.

Henry the dog’s adventure began in the beginning of July, when he was staying on a farm near Enderby as part of a trial to see if it would be a suitable home for him.

“He is a very high energy dog and we were in a place in life where we felt we weren’t able to give him the attention he needed,” said Koa Hughes, who owns the dog with her husband Duffy Baker.

Fireworks going off on a neighbouring property spooked the dog, which bolted up a logging road, then continued on for about 40 kilometres before ending up in Sicamous where he made his home on a beach.

Henry drew the attention of locals, and a local animal rescue organization got involved. Many hands came together across the months to catch the frightened dog and bring it back to safety.

“I went to search the logging road and surrounding area when the prospective owners told me what happened,” Baker said. “They had delayed and tried to find Henry first so as not to give us a scare. He was likely a long ways away by the time I showed up. That was a very sad day and we were left wondering and worrying.”

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It would be several months before Hughes and Baker would find out their dog was alive and well.

Debbie Fortin runs K 9-1-1 Animal Rescue, a private rescue in Sicamous. She has been involved with animal rescues for three decades.

“At first residents wondered if Henry was being let out to roam at night by an irresponsible owner,” she said. “I don’t think most people were aware someone was looking for him. The dog was fearful of people and acting feral. We knew he had an owner at some point because he was wearing a collar.”

Fortin said people grew more concerned about the dog when the weather started getting colder. She believes Henry was surviving by eating ducks and geese, and feeding on scraps left out by residents.

“More and more people sent us posts of sightings and we started tracking where he was eating and napping during the day, and his routines,” she said. “We sent out posts on social media looking for the owners.”

Henry the Australian shepherd sheltie cross evaded capture for 5 months, living outdoors in Sicamous.
Henry the Australian shepherd sheltie cross evaded capture for 5 months, living outdoors in Sicamous.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Duffy Baker

Baker and Hughes were also sending out messages on social media, but no one could get close enough to the spooked dog to confirm its identity.

Fortin’s team established a feeding spot and set up a live trap, but attempts failed.

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Last week the rescue organization discovered who the dog belonged to and contacted Hughes and Baker, who came out to catch Henry on Dec. 3. They wanted to see if the dog could be lured by the scent of the family’s clothing.

“I went to the area Henry had been hanging around,” said Baker. “I first encountered him on the beach and he gave me a high pitch, feral bark, which I hadn’t heard him make before. I said his name and he looked at me all curious and puzzled but kept his distance.”

Baker said he walked down the beach and acted as submissive as possible, but the dog ran to an upper road. At that point, Baker got into his vehicle and drove to the dog. He got out and called him.

“He was backing up so I went back to my car and he was walking curiously toward me so I turned the car around and slowly drove the other way,” he said. “I threw my toque out the window. Henry stopped and sniffed it. I kept driving slowly dropping scented items out the window.”

Baker stopped the car and sat with the driver’s door open. Henry circled the car.

“I dropped some shorts on the ground and he sniffed them,” he said. “Then he sniffed my hand. Then he put his paw on the door. Then he jumped right onto my lap. We both started losing our minds, I was bawling, I was so happy. I knew I would find him and I knew I was going to get him.”

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Henry has been back home in Penticton since Saturday and has been checked by a vet. Baker said the dog has a bit of anxiety and is following him around more closely than he used to, but other than that is doing well in all aspects.

“He didn’t even skip a beat, he just started playing with the other dogs,” he said. “My kids are so happy, the whole family feels complete again. He is a super lovable dog.”

The family wants to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who was involved in the rescue of their dog who will remain living at home with the family for good.

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