A Great Pyrenees dog has been reunited with his family after spending three days lost around Castlegar and swimming back and forth across the Columbia River.
Mary Hummel first noticed her dog Jasper was missing from their South Castlegar home early in the morning on Friday, July 3. She immediately began searching the neighbourhood and posting on social media.
“He is hard to miss, since he is white and weighs 140 pounds,” said Hummel.
The first report of a sighting came in from a boater later that day. He had seen Jasper on the banks of the Columbia River across from Genelle. Hummel searched the area, but was not able to find the dog.
The next sighting was reported Saturday morning, this time back on the other side of the river in Genelle. Once again Hummell rushed to find the dog, but without success. The scenario repeated itself several times throughout Saturday.
“He is a three year old that had never been away from home and he was really scared, so when he was approached by people, he fled,” she explained.
Later Saturday, Hummel was called by some campers who had seen Jasper floating down the river, once again on the opposite side from Genelle. They coaxed him to shore and he remained at their camp site for a while. But by the time a boater from Genelle took the owners across the river to rescue him, Jasper had disappeared again. The campers reported Jasper was weak, and had refused the food they had offered.
“We searched for a long time, but the country is so rugged, we did not find him,” said Hummel.
Sunday was a long day for Hummel as sighting of Jasper stopped coming in.
“We both thought he maybe succumbed to the river,” she said.
“We prayed and cried for a miracle.”
Finally, two more calls came in, both near the campsite where Jasper was last seen on Saturday. Hummel’s husband Brent bushwhacked looking for him, again all to no avail.
A Genelle resident then approached the Hummels, offering the use of his drone to search for the dog.
“We knew this might be Jasper’s last chance, so we came back with a guy that could report GPS coordinates,” said Hummel.
But the search was unsuccessful.
With plans to go back out the next day, the Hummels headed back towards Castlegar.
One of them said, “This isn’t like Hollywood, where your dog just comes out of the woods running toward you.”
But, that is exactly what happened.
“A miracle happened,” said Hummel. “Right in the middle of the road — there was Jasper.”
Hummel says Jasper is very weak, has lost weight and has sore paws, but otherwise is doing fine.
She says the real heroes of the story are the residents of Genelle, who along with other boaters and campers continued to help search and try to rescue Jasper.
“They shone as a community,” said Hummel.
“The community of Genelle came alive. I am so thankful.”