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Determination and Patience Leads to Successful Rescue of Travelling Pup


It’s always nice when a story has a happy ending. Thankfully, that was the case for one wandering canine hobo who is now in the possession of the Swan Valley Animal Protection League (SVAPL).
The German Shepherd-cross, estimated to be almost a year old, was spotted last month roaming around Swan River and the surrounding countryside.
“Around the week of May 20, I was told a dog that fits this description was spotted in a farmer’s field just past the (Swan Valley Historical Museum),” said SVAPL Shelter Manager Lisa Scales. “Then, on May 26, it was reported on (the SVAPL Facebook page) that she was around River Road.”
Scales reported that the dog was quite skittish and difficult to approach. It was apparent that she came from a previous owner as she still wore a blue collar.
“We spent three weeks tracking this dog, receiving as many updates as possible,” said Scales, adding that she would receive text messages and phone calls in the early morning and late at night, notifying her where the latest place is that somebody spotted the dog.
“I spent hours sitting with this girl in various places and trying to earn her trust.”
One particular time on June 7, Scales was close to catching the dog, but was ill prepared with the wrong leash at the time. While the dog was, literally, eating out of Scales’ hand, she ended up getting spooked, jumped up and headbutted Scales in the face, who ended up coming away from the encounter with a cut lip and a black eye.
At that point, the dog also slipped out of her collar, making her more difficult than ever to catch.
Through it all, the dog was quite the wanderer, traipsing rather far across the Valley.
“She ended up making her way Sunday morning from Swan River all the way to (Birch River),” said Scales in a June 11 update to the SVAPL Facebook page. “Then, we hadn’t heard anything until Tuesday morning that she was spotted near Renwer and last spotted around Valley Meat Packers.
“We know she’s been on the highway and trust me... I’ve tried to coax her to me a few times with no luck. Unfortunately, we have to hope she makes her way into Swan and off the highway, or that maybe someone else will get lucky and catch her. We hope and pray that she doesn’t get hit by a vehicle.”
Scales added that it was on June 12 when SVAPL part-time employee Sarah Sakal was able to patiently wait for a few hours by the sign leading into Minitonas.
“She would feed her, talk to her, sit with her until she felt confident enough to get a leash over her head to catch her,” said Scales.
“When she caught her, she called me at the vet clinic to let me know, but she needed help. I instructed her to sit quietly for as long as it took to calm our leashed girl and then told her I’d find someone to help.
“RCMP Officer Vincent Quirion just happened to be finishing up an appointment at the vet clinic and offered to help Sarah,” Scales continued. “Between the two of them, they got (the dog) into Sarah’s vehicle and brought her to the vet clinic where Dr. Lana Tokar gave her a full checkup.”
The dog was covered in ticks and had a few porcupine quills in her ears and neck.
On June 16, Scales announced on the SVAPL Facebook page that they had taken name suggestions and made a decision on what they would call their stray Shepherd.
“Sarah and I were overwhelmed with the response we’ve had for this girl and after careful consideration and research, Sarah has decided to name this girl ‘Lily’ as in Lily of the SWAN Valley as it took a community such as ours to finally get this girl to safety,” said Scales in the online post.
It took a few days for Lily to adjust to the new environment at the SVAPL shelter, but is now overjoyed to interact with familiar people.
Scales noted that Lily is happy, healthy and safe, and expects that she can soon – if not already – be moved into the general population where she can interact with the other animals.
“We’ve had nothing but support from the community in helping us catch this dog,” said Scales. “The live updates were key and the fact that people were aware of her roaming along the highways and slowing down so they didn’t hit her.”
SVAPL also shared some tips when trying to recover a lost pet or a stray. They share that it is key that a dog be lured and not pursued, and that even confident, friendly dogs can revert to animal instincts within 24-48 hours after going missing.
“Lost, frantic dogs become more anxious when they are chased, pursued, called or whistled after, even by their owners,” said the post, noting that this is important to remember to avoid an animal being spooked and potentially running out into traffic.
“Always lower body, turn sideways, lure and calm. And, please report sighting immediately.”

Jeremy Bergen