An Edmonton family has been reunited with their beloved pet after it went missing in the Grande Prairie area for 10 days. Jodie Costello, her husband and son were up in the Swan City to visit family over the August long weekend, and brought their one-and-a-half-year-old rescue dog Gracie with them.
On Sunday, August 6th, Costello’s brother-in-law made it back to his home in Grovedale from a trip to the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum before the others arrived, and let Gracie out of the garage she was staying in. The terrier spaniel is reportedly very attached to six-year-old Drew and took off in search of his scent.
“They’re a bonded pair and she won’t leave his side at all,” explains Costello. “They’re inseparable; I can’t even explain how close they are.”
What followed was several days of non-stop searching, using everything from tracking dogs and night vision goggles to a psychic medium. Costello’s sister Melanie Nathan took to social media to help from Edmonton, and managed to reach thousands of people to ask for help.
“Everybody who we talked to knew who Gracie was,” says Nathan.
“We actually got a report that she had been spotted on the Weyerhaeuser Road because somebody had seen a posting in a different [Facebook] group… so that’s the only reason we should even try down that road in the first place.”
After several sightings and failed attempts to catch the dog, their luck changed on Tuesday, August 15th. As Costello and Nathan were checking one of their traps along Highway 40, Gracie made an appearance, but darted back into the bushes.
Josh Robinson from On Point Adventures brought his tracking dogs out for a fifth time, and one managed to find Gracie in a forested area off of a lease road. Instead of trying to chase her, the sisters sat on the side of the road calling her name, and 10 to 15 minutes later she inched her way towards them.
“We were calling like crazy and then she flopped onto her back and her tail was wagging like mad,” says Costello.
“We picked her up and instantly put her in the kennel because she was not getting away from us again,” adds Nathan.
Although very thirsty and a little skinnier, Gracie is surprisingly in good health and had a vet appointment in Edmonton Thursday. She’ll also be getting touch therapy, set up by a volunteer in Grande Prairie, to help her overcome any trauma.
The pup has since been reunited with her best friend Drew, and the family hopes their success story inspires anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation.
“Never give up and do what you have to do to find your dogs,” says Costello. “Reach out to who you have to reach out to. Use social media, because that was integral in our search for her.”
“If Facebook and Twitter and that wasn’t around, I don’t think we could have done what we’ve done,” adds Nathan.
One post alone reached more than 64,000 people with 616 shares.
In addition to Robinson and his dogs, the Costellos were helped by search parties made up of several volunteers and people from Bandanged Paws Animal Rescue Association and Kelore Kennels. Their search was also aided by hundreds of shares on social media, and people who let them know about any sightings.
They were also put in touch with Erin and Chad Clarke, the owners of Ruger, a dog who went missing from the Canfor Bridge area on May 21, 2017. The community rallied around their search as well, with the help of a Facebook group and social media posts.