"We found her."
Hundreds of hopeful searchers and supporters were waiting to hear those three magical words.
Today, after spending more than two weeks in the woods of Kirkland, WA, a beloved missing dog has finally come home to her elderly owner.
Earl, 86, was involved in a serious car accident with his two senior dogs. On Friday, January 11, Earl's vehicle collided into a gas station. During the ensuing car fire, one of Earl's dogs, Mandy, fled the scene, reportedly running off into the woods.
Earl was injured in the accident and was unable to assist with the search.
For Earl, the loss of Mandy was unimaginably painful. His pets had become his only companions. His wife had unexpectedly passed away shortly before Christmas, and the prospect of facing the new year without Mandy, as well, was devastating for Earl and his other dog, Lady.
Jim Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, spearheaded the search efforts.
"At many points, Earl said that he felt that he'd never see Mandy again and didn't know how he'd keep going," Branson stated.
But no one realized how much a small community would come together to help this little family.
Pawsitive Alliance regularly updated Mandy's story. Branson set up and continuously monitored "Find Mandy in Kirkland" on Facebook and put in approximately 100 search hours to find this missing dog. Dozens of volunteers coordinated efforts, as well.
Many people searched for long hours every day, responding to possible sightings, canvassing neighborhoods with posters, and networking Mandy's story with social media.
With darkness falling early, cold temperatures, and a thick fog covering the area for days on end, searchers faced a daunting task.
"I had to turn home because of the fog and darkness," some of the searchers reported. "But I'll be back tomorrow."
And their efforts finally paid off when a lady sighted the lost dog in her backyard this morning.
Searchers arrived at the scene, which was approximately five blocks from the accident site which occurred on Finn Hill in Kirkland, WA, near Juanita Drive and NE 141st Street. Branson said that Mandy was near near 138th and 72nd.
But how did the resident know that it was the elusive missing dog? It was entirely due to the efforts of those who invested those countless hours.
"This search was unusual in the way that Facebook played a role," stated Branson.
"Earl's story was compelling because of his hardships. It was a heartbreaking story and it attracted a lot of attention.
We don't often get a turn out like this....many volunteers invested hundreds of hours to find Mandy."
After her two-week ordeal in the woods and weathering bitterly cold temperatures, Mandy seemed to be in good health. The flat-coated retriever appeared slightly thinner, had worn paw pads, and needed to receive fluids at a local veterinarian, but appeared to have no major health issues.
One can only imagine the reciprocal relief and love that Earl, Lady, and Mandy felt when they were reunited this morning. Mandy immediately went to her owner when she saw him.
Here's to happy endings - and to the people who make them possible.
Seattle Pets will post a story highlighting the work of Jim Branson and Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue in the near future.
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