Samantha Johnson and John Baker have spent their holiday season searching for their lost dog Louie and all they want for Christmas is to find him safe and sound.
West Coast locals and visitors are urged to join the volunteers who have been combing the Coast ifor the beloved dog that went missing roughly 40 kilometres east of the West Coast junction on Dec. 15.
Louie is a four-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever. He is all black with a star-shaped pattern of white fur on his chest. He was wearing a brown leather collar when he went missing.
Johnson told the Westerly her boyfriend Baker has been Louie’s guardian “since [Louie] was the size of a shoe,” and she became a second guardian to Louie about three years ago.
Johnson and Baker are both former Tofino locals who now live in Nanaimo and Shawnigan Lake.
They drove to the West Coast for a beach day in Ucluelet and Tofino on Dec. 15.
After dinner in Tofino, the couple began driving back and we’re heading towards Port Alberni along Highway 4 when they stopped to let Louie out to pee.
“At about 8:30 p.m. Louis was whining in the back so we pulled over. Usually, when he does that, he’s letting us know he’s got to go number one or number two and he gets out does his business and gets back into the car,” she said.
They pulled over just past the first four-lane mark on Highway 4 near Kennedy Lake to let him out. They never saw him again.
“He ran into the bush and then he never came back,” she said. “Usually he goes to the edge of the bush where he can still see us…But what we think happened was he either heard something or saw something and ran into the bush.”
She added Louie tends to chase after wildlife like deer and squirrels.
“We were yelling for him all night. We spent all night out there and slept in the car…We’ve searched for him ever since.”
The Port Alberni based Arrowsmith Animal Resource Foundation and the West Coast’s Coastal Animal Rescue and Education Network have joined forces to organize search crews and set up trail cameras in an effort to catch sightings of Louie so a trap can be set in the right spot.
“We haven’t had any real sightings yet,” Johnson said.
She said both she and Baker are commuting between their jobs in Nanaimo and Shawnigan Lake and the West Coast to search.
“It’s been physically and emotionally exhausting,” she said. “I’m not sleeping very well. I’m on my phone, I’d say, 20 hours out of the day…It’s been a lot of time spent trying to coordinate everybody.”
She said she keeps in constant contact with both CARE and AARF, as well as volunteer searchers, through social media and careful schedules are kept to determine which areas have been searched to ensure maximum coverage.
West Coast locals and visitors are urged to assist the ongoing effort.
“Spread the word. Tell everybody you know and everybody you see about Louie…We just want him back home,” Johnson said. “Talking to people, handing out flyers, telling tourists, and spreading the word is, I think, what’s going to bring him home.”
Those willing to search for the lost dog are asked not to call out his name as missing dogs commonly enter ‘flight mode’ and are in a frightened state that convinces them to hide from any attention.
Act passive, remain extremely calm and do not try to grab him.
Anyone who spots Louie must immediately report their sighting to Baker at 604-612-7241 or CARE at 250-266-9663.