TATAMAGOUCHE, N.S. - If dogs could talk, Lizzie would have quite a tale to tell.
Her adventure started Wednesday, March 21 when the 10-month-old border collie, who lives on Lismore Sheep Farm in River John, took off. She had never left the property before.
“She was out with my husband, who was doing chores,” said Gillian Crawford. “We don’t know if something scared her, or if there might have been something she took off to see.
“The first morning we walked the fields, calling for her, and my husband went out on the four-wheeler. We walked the roadways and went around the woods, and by lunch time we thought we should start posting online.”
That night, there was a snowstorm and the family worried about what Lizzie was going through.
“We were really, really worried, and Friday morning my husband and I looked at one another and asked if there could be a miracle.”
It was two days after she went missing Lizzie was spotted – in Tatamagouche Bay, 18 kilometres from River John and clearly in distress.
“We were in our dining hall having morning coffee, just after nine, when we spotted something on the ice, and we first thought it was something like a seal,” said Erin Thomson, general manager at the Tim Horton Children’s Camp. “We got the binoculars and saw it was a dog.”
Lizzie was attempting to reach shore, but every time she neared the edge of the ice it would break apart and the water threatened to pull her under.
Thomson’s partner and a maintenance worker at the camp, both volunteer firefighters, were contacted and in about 15 minutes a rescue was organized.
Lizzie was far out in the bay at first, but when someone called to her, she ran toward shore. Then she started to break through the ice.
About 10 members of the Tatamagouche Fire Department showed up and an inflatable boat was launched to reach Lizzie.
“She’s a friendly dog, and wanted to be rescued, for sure,” said Thomson. “They brought her in, wrapped her in blankets and warmed her in a truck. By that point, we’d tracked down the family and they were on their way to get the dog.”
Social media played a role in reuniting Lizzie with her family. Those who found her posted a photo and information online, and others recognized her from her listing on the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network.
Before the call came, Lizzie’s family members were beginning to wonder if they would see her again.
“We worried about coyotes and we worried about the roads, because she doesn’t really know about traffic,” said Crawford. “It’s the first time we had a pet go missing, but we heard so many stories about missing animals getting back home that it kept us going.”
On being contacted, Crawford’s daughter and husband headed to the camp.
“She was excited to see them, and by evening she was jumping on the hay bales like normal.”
Lizzie is one of the pups born on the farm last spring, and will be a working dog.
“My daughter, who is 19, was heartbroken because Lizzie’s sort of her puppy,” said Crawford. “She was very, very excited to see her back, and we’re keeping a close eye on her now.
“It’s fantastic, the way the community pulled together.”