How far would you go to find your beloved lost pet? For one Washington couple, the ends of the Earth wouldn’t have been far enough.
The New York Times detailed the harrowing tale of Carole and Verne King, who were vacationing in Kalispell, Montana with their 7-year-old Border collie, Katie. The couple went to a stock-car race one night and returned to their hotel to find that Katie was no longer in their room. She had apparently figured out how to unlock the door and escape. The King’s thought she may have been scared by a thunderstorm.
The hotel’s front desk attendant told the couple she saw a dog run out the front door several hours earlier.
The Kings searched for Katie all night but couldn’t find her. The couple, both former law-enforcement officers from Los Angeles, treated Katie’s disappearance like a case. In addition to posting Katie’s picture on light polls and around the community and on the Internet, they examined the area around the hotel and nearby alfalfa fields for signs of their lost dog. They searched for tracks and droppings but found nothing.
Fifteen days into the search, the couple took a new approach. They purchased two cameras typically used by wildlife researchers that record when animals are sensed. They also purchased animal traps and baited them with Katie’s favorite snack. Carole started “jogging and biking around the neighborhoods, hoping that her sweat could signal the dog that her family was near,” the Times reported. They also left used clothing, Katie’s blanket, and her bowl around the area.
The couple also had hair shavings and horse manure shipped from their farm back home, hoping the familiar scents would attract Katie.
They followed up on every lead and purchased night-vision goggles to look for Katie at night.
Thirty-seven days into the search, Carole needed to return home to her job as a postal carrier in Spokane, Washington. When she learned she would not be able to take any additional time off, she gave her notice. The couple was retired and living on pensions, but she supplemented their income with this job.
“Katie was just more important to me,” Carole told the Times. “I just said, ‘I’ll finish this week, and that’s it.’”
Carole returned to Kalispell. Verne then left the town to return home and care for the farm and their other pets.
Fifty-three days into the search, Carole considered giving up, but Verne encouraged her to keep going. Thankfully for the Kings, the Kalispell community opened their hearts to the couple. One person let the Kings stay in their home, others spent hours searching for Katie. Still others allowed the couple to search their property.
“We can’t believe that community up there,” Verne told the Times.
Fifty-seven days into the search, a miracle occurred. Carole received a tip that a homeowner near the hotel saw a dog matching Katie’s description in their backyard. When Carole arrived, the dog was gone. Carole and a friend searched the area. A couple said there was a dog sitting under a nearby tree. Everyone began calling Katie’s name. Soon, everyone let Carole call Katie, and the dog immediately ran to her and jumped into her arms.
“All I could think about was, ‘I’m done. I got her,’” Carole told the Times. “I was crying, I was holding onto her, wrapped her up in a bear hug. I couldn’t get her in the car fast enough to close her in so I wouldn’t lose her again.”
Katie was filthy and dehydrated from her ordeal and had lost 15 pounds. A local emergency vet took care of Katie, and the family was reunited soon after.