A Victoria terrier is back home after three days and nights on the loose, surviving the streets, ocean currents and an overnight stay on an isolated island populated with predators such as mink and otter.
Poppie, a five-year-old Yorkshire terrier, was out for a walk Monday at Cadboro Bay Beach.
After she was let off her leash, a bigger dog chased her out of the park. Poppie panicked and wouldn’t come back.
“A couple of people saw her and said she was running just like a bat out of hell,” said owner Dianne Weed, who lives in the Hillside area with Poppie’s litter mate, Daisy.
After Poppie disappeared, the Victoria-based Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing (ROAM), was alerted. The volunteer group made posts to the internet about the missing dog.
What followed was three days and nights of sightings all over the 10 Mile Point area. There were near misses and unsuccessful attempts at trapping. Search-and-rescue volunteers, in their Zodiac vessel, helped out to no avail.
On Tuesday, a couple on Sea View Road spotted Poppie through binoculars on nearby Flower Island. “They thought: ‘That’s not a mink, that’s not an otter or a seal, that’s a terrier,’ ” Weed said.
She and her daughter were rowed over in a canoe, but couldn’t coax Poppie to come. When wind and waves picked up, someone called the rescue team. A rescue wasn’t necessary, but the crew still answered.
They even showed up the following morning and ferried the Weeds back to Flower Island to continue their search.
Despite hours of calling, singing, and waving and wafting sweet-smelling treats such as roast chicken and bacon, Poppie never responded.
In the end, she was found Thursday, exhausted and hungry on someone’s front porch on Arbutus Road, sitting by some shoes.
She had swum back from Flower Island.
Weed said when she got the call to let her know Poppie was rescued, she fell to pieces. “I haven’t cried like that since I was a child,” she said.
Weed said she has learned a lesson and Poppie will never again be allowed off leash.
But what’s most memorable for her about the ordeal was the overwhelming kindness of people. Other dog walkers promised to keep a look out. The couple who spotted Poppie on Flower Island also rowed Weed out and back. The rescue volunteers never complained.
Even a landscaper stopped work when an emotional Weed, searching on foot, told him her dog had been missing for days and she had just received a call saying she had been found. “He didn’t bat and eye, he just looked at me and said: ‘Get in the truck,’ ” Weed said. “He was so kind.”
Most of all she wants to give a big “thank you” to the people at ROAM who never stopped looking until Poppie was found.
Darlene Mooney, an administrator with ROAM, said the group is mostly Victoria-based but has a few satellite groups elsewhere on Vancouver Island. It started in 2016. ROAM volunteers get the word out, mostly with social media, to other pet lovers about missing animals. Since its beginning it has reunited 3,500 owners with missing dogs, cats, budgies chickens even iguanas. “And we provide a lot of support,” said Mooney. “Pet owners can get very emotional.”