Tuesday, December 10, 2013



Early in the morning on November 29, Gunner, a five-month-old golden retriever puppy was let out of his kennel and allowed to go outside with several other dogs that were visiting with their families for Thanksgiving. Our daughter Amie, the dog’s owner, realized very quickly that there were no sounds of dogs running around the porch, which they always do in the mornings. She hurriedly dressed to check on the silence, and found that the sliding gate on our chain link fence had been closed, but not latched. All of the dogs had squeezed out and taken off to explore.

They had only gone a short distance—north to the Bergeson’s corner and then down near the Windover’s, when she caught up to them and loaded all but the youngest into her van and brought them home. She and other family members immediately began looking for the puppy. We were driving, hiking and peering in spaces and under cabins with a flashlight for three days, but Gunner had simply vanished. There were tracks that could have been his going into the woods, but with other dogs, coyotes in mountain lions in the area, it was impossible to tell. Several of our grandchildren rode with grandpa as he drove around the neighborhoods. Haley, one of Gunner’s young owners shouted, “stop the truck!” Frank was hopeful that she had seen the dog, but instead she wanted to stop so they could all say a prayer. Many Pine Valley residents and many others were also looking and praying for him.

We put up tons of flyers, contacted the sheriff, the animal shelters, the radio station, the veterinarians in the area. People in several states were posting on Facebook, Instagram, blogs and websites. Because there was no response from all the media, we thought it most likely that Gunner hadn’t been taken, but had run into the woods. The weather was cold and snowy when he disappeared, but got much worse, with deep snow and temperatures well below zero for several nights. Coyotes were seen in our neighborhoods; we knew any marauding mountain lions would be hungry. Although we kept looking, we had almost given up hope that a five-month-old puppy that had always been so well cared for could survive such conditions.

Then on the afternoon of December 9, more than ten full days after Gunner disappeared, he was found. Elaine Lindbloom was visiting Cheryl Callahan who lives within the cluster of cabins where the puppy initially disappeared but where we had thoroughly searched a number of time. Elaine noticed a dog on the back porch and asked Cheryl about him, but she hadn’t known he was there. Between Elaine and her husband Ray, they realized that this must be the puppy that Amie had called neighbors about. They tried to call our house, but we were in St. George, and since they were leaving, they took the puppy to the Bergesons who contacted us in town.

That was the beginning of a series of amazed people. I could hardly believe it when Laura called me in St. George. In fact I didn’t even call Amie until I had seen the puppy with my own eyes. When I did call her, she cried from happiness and relief. We left for Vegas immediately with a plan to surprise her husband and kids. To say the family was happy, amazed and grateful would only on touch on their emotions, and Gunner was dirty, a little matted, very skinny and totally exhausted, yet he was the most happy of all.

We want to thank so many people who cared. If Elaine had not coaxed him to him to her and got him to Laura’s, he could have easily wandered off again, wondering where his family was. He is only a little dog and we know that there are so many more serious losses in the world, but still we feel it is such a huge blessing to find him. Unless someone speaks puppy, we will never know what his experiences were for ten days in a harsh environment, but our family is sure that he must have been watched over. We are so grateful for this Christmas miracle.

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