Do you believe in magic?

by Janet Brownell

Special to the Sounder

I will admit it. It was 100% my fault. On Monday, May 13, I had left the gate open to Chet’s yard. Chet being our nine-year-old beagle. And in the language of beagles – open gate translates to: “FREEDOM!” Chet took off.

Lance and I heard him barking WAY up on the hill behind our house. (Our property is the backside of Turtleback.). In no time I was scrambling straight up. Also helping was our neighbor Laurie St. Aubin and her better-trained dog Orion. As hard as we climbed, we could not reach Chet. He took off somewhere into the nether reaches behind our houses – possibly up further on Turtleback. Possibly headed toward Island Hardware. All we knew was Chet was gone.

Lance posted on Facebook that Chet was missing. Jeanne Spreen of Friends of Orcas Pet Search & Rescue reached out to help. In a blink, Michell Marshall of the Office Cupboard had “missing dog” posters printed. Jeanne had them up around the island, and trailheads, in a flash.

By Wednesday, the outreach by friends and strangers was staggering. So many friends looking for Chet. But by Thursday reality had set in. Chet is the size of a toaster – the area we were searching was over 1600 acres of deeply wooded and somewhat treacherous landscape. He had not had food in three days. And if he was injured, there was no possibility of ever finding him. We were bereft.

Then on Friday, I received this text from a total stranger: “Hi Janet! I saw your dog on Turtleback this morning. Looked healthy, just scared. Came to see what/who we were and then ran off into the woods again. We didn’t call or chase.” This was from Grant Mauer and his wife Kirsten Ryzewic, visitors from New Hampshire. They had seen the poster!! They even sent a map showing where they saw Chet! He had made it to the Raven Ridge trail – about as high as you can get on Turtleback.

Laurie, Orion, and I immediately headed up there. Armed with the knowledge he looked healthy; we had hope. Alas, we did not find him. So, we put out a call for a search party: 9 a.m. Saturday. A mass of people showed up. I’d list them all here, but I’m running out of allotted word count.

Despite our best efforts, no Chet. My plan was to return later in the day. But at 3 p.m. I got another text. CHET HAD BEEN FOUND!!

Our friend Mike Puccio knows Chet. He had gone up alone…armed with a squeaky toy! Mike gave a few squeaks almost exactly where he had been spotted, and Chet came prancing out of the woods.

The pieces of fate that knit together for this happy ending is remarkable. Chet is in great shape. We have no words for the support, kindness and generosity we have received from friends, islanders we’ve never met…and two strangers from New Hampshire. Our hearts are full. Thank you all.

Chet and his dad Lance Evans.

Chet and his dad Lance Evans.