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Survival of the Fittest?


This is a story of survival. A story of courage. A story of unbelievable circumstance.
Late last month it was cold. Colder than normal. Minus 20-22C at night. And, snow! We’ve had so much snow and there is still a lot of it to melt.
But, you know this. The dog didn’t know this. The dog didn’t realize how cold it still got at night. She didn’t know how deep the snow was. She didn’t know how far she’d stray or how long it would take to find her. The pug didn’t have a clue how everyone would worry, how many people would follow her story, how many of us would be watching for her. Jovi had no idea how many times we would all drive up and down, back and forth, searching, trying to find a needle in a haystack.
She had no way of knowing that we would sometimes think it was futile. That we would feel like she would never make it. That we wondered if it was all worthwhile. Or, that we just couldn’t give up hope.
Especially her family. They cried. They prayed. We prayed. And, shook our heads, thinking, no way man. No way she could survive this cold. And what about the coyotes? Cougars? Wolves? No way. She’s a pug. She’s too small, too short, too slow and too short haired. No way.
It’s nice to be proven wrong sometimes. Really nice.
Jovi and her big brother Mack took off from home, five miles north of Minitonas, on Wednesday morning (March 28). After a day or so, Mack came back. Jovi did not.
Her owners shared the story of their missing pug on the internet, on dog.my and then with SVAPL. We made a post and pinned it to the top of the page, but didn’t hold out a lot of hope that a lost pug would survive the cold nights; with no food, no water, no warm place to hide out. Not to mention avoiding the wildlife! Coyotes, wolves, the odd cougar and large prey birds.
Day after day, her family and members of SVAPL searched and searched. Friends and neighbours kept watch. Nothing. No sign. The odd set of tracks, but we had no way of knowing who made them. But, no Jovi. After a week, we thought the worst, but kept searching and praying.
And then, hope. An actual sighting! Someone saw her on April 3, nearly a week after she went missing. The information was passed to Stacy, Jovi’s owner.
Jovi had been seen at Watson’s approach. Stacy didn’t know where that was, but SVAPL Shelter Manager Audrey Sercombe did. It was a couple of miles from where she grew up east of Bowsman.
Again, the family and members of SVAPL searched. Later that day, Audrey was contacted - we had the wrong information! Jovi was sighted at Watts’ place along the Lenswood highway, and not at Watson’s approach!
Wait, the Lenswood highway? Almost near Birch River? How was this possible?
How could little Jovi have gone seven kilometres east to the Lenswood Highway, from her home, and north again, almost all the way to Birch River – a distance of about 45 kilometres?
Really? Was this a confirmed sighting? Yes indeed, somebody saw her on Watts’ driveway entrance, and they described Jovi right down to her pink collar and red tag. Holy cow.
The search was on again. Armed with this new information, focus was shifted east to the Lenswood Highway. Up and down the road we drove, SVAPL volunteer Maggie Romak and Audrey stopping at each farm and at houses in Birch River, leaving contact information and talking to people.
Nothing. No sightings. No pug.
And then, another call on April 6. Someone thought they spotted Jovi around Antler Corner south of Birch River!
Stacy, Randy and family, including Mack, Jovi’s doggie brother, went north of Birch River on the highway to search. Maggie and Audrey went south from Birch River.
Randy stopped to let Mack out at a gravel pit north of Birch River. They had stopped and called for Jovi a couple of times before getting to the gravel pit. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a little dog came slowly walking toward them. Could it be… yes it was Jovi!
How on earth is it that Mack needed out at the exact spot where Jovi would be? Divine intervention? Luck? Doggie intuition? Jovi doesn’t care what the reason is, she’s just happy to be home!
Perhaps Jovi heard and saw some of us that were looking for her. Jovi may have avoided us because she doesn’t trust many people. Maybe she heard us but wouldn’t come out because it wasn’t the people she trusted - her family.
In all, we figure she travelled around 85 kilometres in those nine days she was missing. All on those short little pug legs! Was she trying to get back north to Flin Flon, where she and her family moved from? We will never know!
The moral of this story? Never give up!