Home > Animal Rescue, Lost Dogs, Missing Pets, Pet News, Shelties > Sunny – A dog lost for 96 days in a Minnesota winter and now home

Sunny – A dog lost for 96 days in a Minnesota winter and now home


IMG_0197For those of you who follow me on my Facebook page or follow the Lost Shelties MN page, you already know the good news. Sunny, the Sheltie lost in Maple Grove, Minnesota, is now safely home in Ohio. After 96 days and 23 miles, he was reunited with his dad on Friday evening. It was a very special moment and one I am sure Sunny’s dad and family won’t forget.

For those of you who don’t know the story, I think you will find this worth reading. It is a good example of how important it is to get the word out… AND just how to do it.

Before I share Sunny’s story from beginning to end (My thanks to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN and Mary McTie for letting me share this!), I would like to thank all of the people who helped in his successful return. I would love to name each and every one of you here, but there were so many of you that I am afraid I would forget someone!

Instead, let me just share some of the things you did to bring Sunny home:

  • Offered support to Sunny’s family and coordinated the handing out of flyers (including updating the flyer map on numerous occasions so we knew where to go next).
  • Updated the missing dog flyers so the latest information could be handed out in neighborhoods and posted in store windows.
  • Placed, checked and moved traps in the frigid cold and deep snow – more times than we even know. (Trust me when I say this is hard work.)
  • Managed the incoming calls with sightings of Sunny and handled inquiries from the general public (both on Facebook and over the phone).
  • Made calls to local shelters, police departments and city managers in cities where Sunny was sighted.
  • Monitored all the places that help lost dogs – AHS website, Lost Dogs – MN, Craigslist, in case Sunny was brought in as a stray.
  • Called radio stations to ask them to ask the public to keep an eye out for Sunny.
  • Handed out flyers over and over and over again – and then did it once again (many times in frigid cold).
  • Contacted local newspapers and online news media outlets to alert them to Sunny’s story and the search for him.
  • Placed ads in newspapers and posted info on Craigslist.
  • Made signs to be placed in areas he was sighted.
  • Kept all of the volunteers motivated week after week after week (you know who you are!).
  • Shared Sunny’s picture and story on Facebook and asked friends to share.
  • Prayed, sent good thoughts and hoped that Sunny would be reunited with his family.
  • Called and reported each and every sighting, no matter when that sighting occurred.

A very special thanks to Patti and her husband for reporting that one final set of sightings that brought Sunny home and to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN who handled so much more than we know with absolute grace and charm.

So, without further ado, here is Sunny’s story as it was shared on the Lost Shelties MN Facebook page in Sunday. It still brings tears to my eyes.

Hi Everyone…This is long…I apologize…but it’s been a long journey for Sunny, his family and the rest of us. This is a story worth telling. Thank you all for EVERYTHING you have done to help this precious boy. A lot of hard work by all…but so very rewarding. Grab some coffee and enjoy. And please share this also, as I’m sure through the 96 days that Sunny was gone, there were a lot of people who have seen your likes & shares. Thank you…from the bottom of my heart.

(First, how Sunny was finally caught.) On March 20th, Sunny’s owner called to tell us he got a call from a lady who had seen Sunny. Her name is Patti and she lives in Vadnais Heights. Patti feeds stray cats and she and her husband have a live feed video camera near the bowls. They started to see a Sheltie come around about 11pm, he had been eating at the bowls at least eight times in the last week and a half. Patti checked Craigslist and was sure that dog was Sunny. We were cautiously optimistic. Almost 23 miles (via Interstate 694) from where Sunny went missing on Christmas Eve. If this was Sunny…he was heading for Ohio!

Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) volunteers brought a live trap over that night. Patti had a huge bowl of cut up hot dogs, another big bowl of chicken, along with cat kibble and a heated bowl for milk. We set up the trap with the chicken and hot dogs inside. We left the kibble and milk outside – usually we don’t want to leave food outside the trap but a big tomcat was watching the whole time and we figured we would probably catch him multiple times if we didn’t leave something out for him.

The first night, Patti’s husband stayed up til 2 a.m. watching the video…no dog! We set up a motion-activated camera. We thought if we at least saw him come around again, then we would put the word out for flyers in the area. But the dog stopped coming by (or at least he did not appear on the love camera or when anyone was watching the live feed). More days passed and no dog. We started thinking it must have been a neighbor dog, who was sometimes let out to stroll late at night. It started to seem like nothing was going to happen here.

March 28th – Patti called to say they caught a raccoon in the trap! Not good, but there’s always the thought that you have to catch something else before you catch the dog.

6:30 a.m. on March 29th – Patti calls to say they have the dog in the trap! What dog…must be a neighbor dog…some other dog that needs our help? Could it possibly be Sunny? Patti and her husband knew not to open the trap but they offered to bring it inside their garage until our volunteer Pat (another MNSR volunteer) could get there.

Pat and her granddaughter arrived, along with Sunny’s owners’ in-laws. The markings looked right, the size looked right, but there was that tiny bit of doubt that it was another Sheltie that looked a lot like Sunny. The dog sort of wagged his tail at the father-in-law. He was matted and full of burrs, but otherwise didn’t look too bad. They sent pictures to Sunny’s owner in Ohio, and he was on the road by mid-morning.

Sunny went to Karen’s for the day. Pat’s granddaughter spent some time picking burrs out of his coat and he was amazingly relaxed. He got a good nap for the rest of the morning.

At noon on Friday, March 29th, Sunny went to MNSR’s vet, he was checked out and overall opinion was that he is in pretty good shape (blood work results will take a day or two), not thin but obviously he was tired.

Sunny had to meet some more MNSR volunteers later in the afternoon, and he was quite calm for that too. He didn’t approach us, but he didn’t hide or cower. Maybe still somewhat in shock and maybe relief that he didn’t have to run anymore.

Friday evening about 7:00 p.m., Sunny’s owner, Dick, arrives at Karen’s. Sunny looked at him, walked over and sniffed him, and then his tail started to wag a little. He never left Dick after that. Dick sat on the step and talked and Sunny looked at him and listened. Dick would say familiar words and his ears would perk up. He relaxed and laid down at his feet for a while.  We could tell that all was well in Sunny’s world again.

Sunny left Karen’s equipped with a Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR collar), a harness and was double leashed! After all that, Dick carried him out to the car anyway. Sunny and Dick are driving back to Ohio Saturday morning and should be back home by evening. (Update: Sunny is now home and his overall blood work was good.)

Thank you to everyone who helped in this 96 day search to get Sunny back home. The flyers, the Craigslist ads, the Maple Grove Patch and the City of Brooklyn Park, the sharing on Facebook, twitter and other social media. Thank you to Patti and her husband for feeding such good food to stray cats and a lost Sheltie from Ohio.

Sunny – you captured our hearts. Safe travels home, Sunny and Dick!

*    *    *    *    *    *

Chronology of the search for Sunny

December 24 – Sunny, a Sheltie visiting with his family from Ohio, goes missing.

December 26th – Volunteers hit the streets of Maple Grove flyering the neighborhoods.

January 5th – Sunny sighting south of 85th, by Fleet Farm. Other Sunny sightings. (Major snowstorm January 4th.)

January 13th – Sunny sighting on the west side of the Coon Rapids Dam. Volunteers look on both sides of the dam, the area is heavily flyered.

January 15th – Three Rivers Park (Coon Rapids) police report seeing Sunny near West River Road and chase him into the park. MNSR live traps are set, something is eating the food out of the traps, but nothing is ever caught.

Mid- January – We get a couple reports of a Sheltie near highway 610 and also in Coon Rapids. (Temps the week of January 21st ranged from -30 to -20 degrees with -30 to -40 degree windchill.)

January 26th – A Sheltie is reported in Ham Lake near Constance and Urbank. Volunteers place signs in the area. The traps at the dam are still being checked.

Early February – We start to get multiple sightings in Blaine. Volunteers flyer the Blaine neighborhoods. People see us posting signs and tell us they got the flyer and are watching.

February 13th – Sighting back in Brooklyn Park at 104th and Douglas Drive. Volunteers are back distributing flyers in that neighborhood.

February 14th – 16th – Multiple reports of a Sheltie near Bunker Hills Golf Course. Volunteers flyer a large area in Blaine and Coon Rapids.

February 18th – A woman in Blaine catches the Sheltie in a garage. He is extremely underweight, tired and scared. He’s not Sunny, but he definitely needed us.

February 24th – A man calls to say he saw a flyer but that he saw the dog laying on the side of northbound highway 169. It was at least 2 weeks after he had the sighting. Karen from MNSR drives and walks the area, looking for the dog. Mary goes out March 2 to take one more look before the next big snowstorm. No sign of a dog.

March 11 – Another report of a sighting at 93rd and Noble in Brooklyn Park. Volunteers flyer the area.

March 19th – A sighting in Andover. A live trap is set in the backyard. (Major snowstorm March 18th.)

March 20th – A sighting in Vadnais Heights. A live trap is set next to the house.

March 27th – A report about a dead animal in Blaine. Started thinking the Vadnais Heights dog wasn’t Sunny.

March 28th – A racoon is caught in the Vadnais Heights trap.

March 29th – A dog is in the Vadnais Heights trap. A happy ending to a 96 day search for a lost Sheltie from Ohio.

Two more updates: Rumor has it that Sunny’s story may be featured on the John Williams radio show on WCCO on Monday between 3-6 p.m. and he is once again featured on the Maple Grove Patch (the first time was when he was still missing).

Sunny’s Path:

Cindy from Lost Shelties MN says hello to Sunny

Cindy from Lost Shelties MN says hello to Sunny

Sunny smiles at dad. He is clearly very happy to see him.

Sunny smiles at dad. He is clearly very happy to see him.

Sunny and Dad before the head home.

Sunny and Dad before the head home.

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  1. April 1, 2013 at 4:23 AM

    That is just the best story for Easter. So glad everybody helped to get Sunny home.
    We hope you had a Happy Easter and that the Easter Bunny hopped over with lots of treats.
    Have a marvelous Monday.
    Remember don’t be fooled by April Fools!
    Best wishes Molly

    • Mel
      April 1, 2013 at 6:35 AM

      LOL! Thanks Molly! We had a quiet but fun Easter. I hope you had the same. Watch out so mom doesn’t fool you!
      I agree. Sunny’s story is pretty amazing and the perfect one for Easter.

  2. April 1, 2013 at 6:43 AM

    Wow. I’ve been following this story (thanks to your FB posts) and have to say that I am amazed Sunny was found – and found in such good shape. Absolutely amazing story. thanks for sharing the details.

    • Mel
      April 1, 2013 at 6:58 AM

      Me too Sue. I guess he is proof that you should never give up hope.
      We really do think he was trying to get to Ohio. Thankfully, we were able to make that happen for him, only in a much quicker way. 🙂

  3. April 1, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    That is amazing and I’m so glad that Sunny was found safe. 96 days lost in the Ohio winter had to of been tough. It’s wonderful that so many people came together and it gives me hope that Tov can still be found!
    Thanks for sharing Sunny’s story Mel!

    • Jonelle
      April 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      He was actually lost in a brutally cold Minnesota winter! So happy he made it through safely. What a smart little guy.

  4. Michele Olson
    April 1, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    A wonderful success story Mel, thanks so much for all the updates on Sunny. That little guy certainly had lots of prayers surrounding him.

  5. Loy
    April 1, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Wow! So glad it all ended well!

  6. harrispen
    April 1, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    So glad to hear Sunny is home and safe now. We had a similar situation in our area with a sheltie too. This one was on her own for 9 months before she could be caught. You can read about it here: http://www.facebook.com/findmeggie

    Cindy

  7. April 1, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    It’s wonderful that this story had a happy ending Mel. I was surprised that he was found after so long, what a dedicated group to work so hard!

  8. April 1, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Wow – what an amazing story! Glad he’s safe back home.

  9. April 1, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Simply miraculous. What a tale; and one that will continue to be told for generations, I’m sure. 🙂 I’m so happy for all involved!

  10. April 1, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Great news. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Jan
    May 22, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    What a wonderful ending to find Sonny. Glad to here that people did not give up. See what can happen when you hang in there.!

    • Mel
      May 24, 2013 at 7:20 AM

      Exactly!

  1. April 17, 2013 at 5:11 AM

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