Best Friend Nutrition and the Sequim Gazette are teaming up to reunite lost pets with their owners via the Internet.
Gracie, a 2-1/2-year-old blue merle collie owned by Melinda Olson, assistant manager at Best Friend Nutrition, went missing on a rainy night Jan. 6.
Olson let Gracie out into the backyard upon returning from work and didn't realize the gate was open. When she went to let Gracie back in the house about 15 minutes later, the dog was gone.
"It was unreal," Olson said.
"You hear about things like this happening to other people but you don't expect it to happen to you."
Search parties combed the Dungeness Valley on foot and in cars for two days and two nights. Flyers were posted at the post office, in schools, veterinarian clinics, grocery stores, at the police department and on posts at intersections. A network of e-mails was distributed.
"It's amazing how the dog community - even those who don't have dogs but love dogs - came together," said Hope Williams, owner and founder of Best Friend Nutrition.
A link was posted on the Sequim Gazette called "Where's Ya Doggy?" directing online readers to the paper's "Lost & Found" directory. Within an hour, Gracie's ad received 111 hits.
Somebody reported seeing a dog matching Gracie's description in the north SunLand area off Woodcock Road. The reporting party called out Gracie's name, but the dog ran away.
Later that day, Gracie was spotted near Medsker Road but refused to come when called.
"When we gave up looking for her that
first night, I couldn't sleep and kept imagining the worse," Olson said.
"She's a timid dog and had never slept a night outside before."
The next day, Olson got a telephone call on her cell phone from a man she'd never met saying he spotted Gracie near Evans Road. Feeling gloomy, Olson drove to Evans Road and started searching for Gracie on foot, distributing flyers door by door.
Gracie was found shortly after Olson got the phone call Jan. 8. "She heard my voice and came to me," Olson said.
Gracie was wet, dirty and in shock. The pads on her paws were skinned and bleeding.
"It was quite a homecoming," said Williams, who spent the first hour after Gracie was found with Olson.
"I've never seen a dog in shock but Gracie was in shock," Williams said. "Her eyes were in another place."
Olson described the two nights Gracie was missing as two of the worst nights of her life.
"She is my daughter and we are a team," Olson said. "It was like knowing my small, not-worldly child was out there alone and I had to worry that she wouldn't get hurt or climb into the wrong person's car."
"I couldn't love my dogs more if I gave birth to them myself."
Almost a month later, Gracie is fully recovered.
Olson credits Gracie's safe recovery to all the people who helped search for the dog.
"There were a lot of people from all over who had her in their thoughts, and I know that is why we found her so quickly," Olson said.
"It's good to know our small town is still small and that the people are so honest and kind."
The biggest lesson learned, Olson said, is to avoid a false sense of security.
"Even though everything may seem the same, one small forgetful moment can change your life forever," she said.
"I check that gate every single time I let Gracie out now."
Some lost dog cases end differently than Gracie's story.
"That's why it's so important to have physical ID tags that are readable and a microchip at all times," Williams said.
"Those two things are critical."
To view a list of lost and found animals, go online to www.sequimgazette.com/lost.
Williams agreed to sponsor the link for three months, longer if the project is successful.
Reach Ashley Miller at ashleyo@
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
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