A special celebration was thrown Thursday afternoon for the owner of a popular dog camp who normally dotes on other people’s pooches.
Camp Canine was all about Wally, an 11-year old Shih Tzu, and a Big Joe’s taco feast.
Mary Holand, owner of the Santa Barbara dog camp, lost her beloved dog back in September during a trip home from Oregon with her daughter and new grandson.
“We got busy with the baby,” Holand said.
The women had stopped at a rest stop in Yreka and Wally, who was muddy, matted and tired out from playing in a river, crawled under a table and fell asleep.
“We turned around and drove back like mad women and … he was gone,” Holand said. “It took us 13 days to get him back and all we had was a description of the car and the people.”
Instead of heading north or south, the women headed across, toward Humboldt, and passed a car matching the description they were looking for: a black S-U-V.
“We pulled the girl over. She did not have Wally with her — she had already given Wally away,” Holand said. “She admitted to giving him to a man in Arcata. He (Wally) was at the rest stop and they didn’t want to leave him. They were really trying to help Wally. They just didn’t have the sense to go in and get him micro-chipped.”
Holand and a friend combed the area, plastering posters throughout town and posts to social media and finally, the phone started ringing.
“The last day I got three calls and the third one is, ‘I have your dog.'”
“And I said, ‘What dog?'”
“And they said, ‘From the rest stop.'”
“This girl had had him for four days,” Holland said. “So he had transferred to three different people.”
The nearly two week long effort ended with an emotional homecoming and a major haircut for the long-locked Shih Tzu.
“It was really a beautiful reunion,” Holand said. “And I’m very grateful and many lessons learned.
Holand recommends all dog owners micro-chip their dogs and make sure they’re wearing tags at all times, something Wally was missing. She also gives a shout-out to a powerful search tool.
“Social media is the best!” Holand said.