April 20, 2001 Rockford, Michigan, USA

Winston didn’t quite make it around the world, but he did make it across five Michigan counties and a few frozen lakes.

Last month, the 11-year-old Sheltie was dropped off at the pet-sitter’s house in Rockford.  His owners then left for a planned 10-day trip to the Southeast.

Barely an hour or two later, Winston apparently decided that he wanted to go with them; he pushed open a back door, launched himself over the deck railing, and made his escape. 

Pet-sitter Kathy Burch recalls getting there just in time to see the 35-pound dog’s hind-end vanish into the distance.

Ms. Burch of Lakeside Pet Sitters had never lost a pet before.  After combing the area for four hours by herself, she organized a search.

The next few days resembled a sort of massive dragnet operation.  More than a hundred people in half a dozen counties—mostly total strangers—joined forces in passing out flyers, investigating “Winston sightings”, driving through the countryside and even taking the search airborne, as one couple did in their private plane.

Meanwhile, Winston’s family cut their trip short and returned to Rockford to join in the effort.

“What an amazing thing that people would take all of this time to come out and do this,” said owner Chris Beaudoin.

“It says a great deal about the quality of this community and the people, that they would do so much to help someone they don’t know.”
For three weeks, the dog meandered across the state of Michigan, through cornfields, along country roads and over frozen lakes, according to the eyewitness reports that were called in from various checkpoints along Winston’s trek.

Finally, last Sunday, a thunderstorm blew in, and Winston (now in Freeland, MI) decided to come in out of the rain.  It just so happened that the door he scratched on belonged to a family who had seen the fliers.

They notified the search crews, and after one long drive up Interstate-46, Mr. Beaudoin arrived on the scene and collected the little runaway.  The pooch had lost about 10 pounds and was sporting some pretty impressive dreadlocks, but otherwise he was just fine.

Since then, Winston’s family has been “feeding him hamburger and rice in bed.”

Article courtsey of Dogs in the News

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