Sophia Olson was going for a walk to meet some friends at a playground when she spotted a a young dog with a colourful coat staring at her.
The nine-year-old was spending the Easter long weekend with her family at Elk Falls’ Quinsam Campground, and had noticed a lost dog sign with a similar looking pup.
“I didn’t remember his name,” she said. “But I remembered what he looked like, and that he was an Australian breed, he was very friendly, and he had a blue collar.”
She approached the dog, and looked around to see if someone was accompanying it.
When she didn’t notice anyone, she spoke to him.
“You don’t have an owner with you, do you?” she said.
Sawyer, a two-year old Aussie Shepherd had been missing for 11 days.
His owner, Andre Paquette recently moved to Campbell River from the Kootenays to work at the mine.
After returning to Paquette’s truck after a walk, Sawyer had spotted a deer and darted after it into the forest.
Nobody else saw the dog for 11 days, despite a large community effort to look for him.
Paquette said he basically lived at the parking lot which Sawyer had run from.
“I went to work, and when I got off work I went back to the park,” he said. “I spent every night there in my truck just trying to find him.”
As the days inched by, he began assuming the worst.
“I was starting to think a cougar got him,” he said. Sawyer had spent the first part of his life tramping around the bush in the Kootenays and had always returned.
“So for him to not come back was kind of scary,” Paquette added.
He was beside himself with relief to receive the call that Sawyer had been found.
“Words can’t describe how good it felt,” he said. “It was just incredible.”
On Tuesday, April 26, Olson was reunited with the dog she found, and got to meet Paquette for the first time.
For her good deed she was awarded a commendation by Coastal Animal Service’s Paul Toseland.
She hadn’t been expecting the framed award, so started misting up a little bit.
“There’s no crying,” Toseland insisted. “You deserve this, alright?”
“I didn’t know I would get rewarded,” Olson said. “It just felt good to bring him back to his owners.”