Image Source: https://www.toronto.com/
Boomer, the rescue dog, couldn’t be happier to be home for the holidays.
For 43 days this fall, the former stray dog from San Antonio, Texas went missing from Toronto’s Oakwood-Vaughan area.
It all started back on Oct. 11 when the three-year-old lab mix got spooked by a loud noise and bolted out the front door of his owner’s partner’s home near Oakwood Avenue and Rogers Road.
“He just took off down the street and wasn’t seen again,” owner Simon Chadwick said during a recent interview.
“I ran after him to try to find him. We thought he might circle back, but no luck. There were lots of open yards and many places for a dog to hide.”
Over the next six weeks, Chadwick, his 13-year-old son Nate, and his girlfriend Celeste Gillis searched tirelessly for Boomer. They put up posters in the area with the help of volunteers from Eddie’s Network – Helping Lost Dogs Come Home and took to social media, but there were very few sightings of their pet and none of them were confirmed.
Nonetheless, Chadwick said deep down they remained hopeful Boomer had found a safe place to hide nearby and would eventually turn up.
When their dog took off, Chadwick, who lives in Oakville with his son, was visiting Gillis. It was the first time the dog came along for an overnight visit.
Enter Scott Shaw, a supervisor working on Crosslinx Transit Solutions’ Cedarvale station project.
One morning in late November while doing the rounds of his job site, Shaw spotted a dark-coloured animal hiding under a large traffic deck below Eglinton Avenue West.
“As I walked past, I saw a dog laying on one of the insulated tarps,” said Shaw, who unsuccessfully tried approaching the skittish canine.
“He was very, very scared. … He ran away from everyone.”
Shaw said he first saw the dog who had a collar and tags on Friday, Nov. 20. He spotted the pup again on Monday, Nov. 23.
“I told my colleagues I’d seen a dog and they looked on social media and found a lost dog matching that description (in the area),” he said, adding the first thing they did was call Toronto Animal Services (TAS). They also reached out its owners.
A short time later, Sally Winlaw, of TAS’ mobile response unit, and Celeste Gillis both arrived at the scene.
“The dog was so scared. He was pinned against the wall. He was just so frightened,” said Winlaw, who approached Boomer as if he were a wild animal and used a large pole with a loop on the end to literally drag him out of the cold, wet, and loud space.
“He was basically covered in mud,” she said.
Despite being beyond terrified, Boomer somehow recognized Gillis and wagged his tail ever so slightly when he saw her.
“It was the highlight call of my year, good ol’ Boomer. He’s all safe now at home with his family,” said Winlaw, who in her entire career has never seen a dog rescued after being missing for so long.
Shaw, a fellow dog lover and owner, said he’s equally elated by the happy ending.
“In 2020, I think we’re all looking for a good news story. … Boomer is now home safe and sound,” he said.
Back in March, Boomer was adopted from a rescue group in the Niagara area.
He’d spent more than a year in foster care and was a bit of an unlikely choice, but Chadwick said they felt this dog deserved a good home.
“At first, Boomer was very nervous and apprehensive. He was a bit curious, but he wouldn’t even come near me for the first few months” said Chadwick, who works as a dog walker/boarder.
“We just felt we could help this dog. We decided to take a chance.”
Little by little, Chadwick said Boomer started to feel safe and comfortable inside, but was always quite fearful outdoors.
Something they can’t quite figure out happened that fateful day to cause Boomer to bolt from Gillis’ home.
“We’re not doing that again,” said Chadwick, adding Boomer, who came home hungry, exhausted, in need of a good bath, is now under close watch.
“He now wears a GPS collar, just in case. We’re being extra, extra careful.”
Chadwick said Boomer’s got a loving family and that he’s got nothing to worry about, and said he thinks the dog somehow knows that too.
“He’s more affectionate and confident since he’s back. … He’s happier than he’s ever been,” said Chadwick, who thanked everyone who helped bring Boomer back home.