Katie's Big Adventure (& Happy Reunion)

Sometimes, finding a lost pet takes a village. That was certainly the case when Street Dawg Crew client Rob became separated from his heeler Katie in the Tanner Park area of Salt Lake City. According to Rob, his best friend was close-by one minute and gone the next. Katie is not a dog prone to running off or ignoring the ‘come’ command. It was as if she had evaporated. Rob searched the area--and every other place he could think of that she might have gone--for hours, without any success. Eventually, he called a phone number he’d just been given two weeks earlier. That number belonged to Ann Davis, a volunteer and board member for Street Dawg Crew. Ann, Rob and Katie had first met in January in the Sugarhouse neighborhood, and had been connecting every 2-3 weeks since then, so SDC could keep Katie supplied with food, treats and toys. On one of their visits, Katie was given a distinctive red harness, which she was wearing when she disappeared.

Rob had never used Ann’s phone number before, but when he wasn’t able to find Katie on his own he dialed it and left a message: “Katie is lost. Can you help me find her.” Unfortunately, the message had no phone number associated with it. Not wanting to let Rob and Katie down, Ann hit the bricks, literally and figuratively, checking all the places she had ever seen Rob and Katie, asking others in the homeless community to put the word out that Rob needed to call her again. Eventually, word got to Rob. He borrowed a phone to get back in touch with Ann. She picked him up, and for the next 3 hours, they searched together in the pouring rain for Katie, again to no avail. When darkness set in, they arranged to connect the next morning to post flyers and continue the search. Rob opted to spend the night at Tanner Park, in the place he had last seen Katie. What neither of them knew, was that Katie was safe and warm several blocks away in the Canyon Rim home of John and Marie Jensen, and that social media posts were already bringing Rob and Katie closer.

Although SDC had posted a plea for help on Facebook, it was Marie Jensen’s post to Utah Lost and Found Pets, that ‘broke the case.’ That post, with a picture of Katie in her distinctive red harness and the query, “Does anyone know who this little girl belongs to?” came to the attention of SDC VP Kimo Pokini, who contacted Ann. But there was still an obstacle: Rob had been chased out of his intended campsite at Tanner Park the night before and had to be located again. After a rather lengthy search, Ann spotted Rob on the bike path along the freeway between Tanner Park and Sugarhouse Park and was able to intercept him with the good news and transport to the Jensen’s to pick up Katie.

When the Jensens brought Katie out of their home for the reunion between Katie and her ‘Dad’, everyone was expecting “joy unconfined,” but were surprised when Katie barked at Rob as if he were a stranger and turned her back on him. (What?!) She was quite clearly scolding him and saying, “Don’t ever leave me like that again.” But she followed that up by planting her front paws on Rob’s chest, licking his face and crawling into his lap. (See the pic.)

The reunion was bittersweet. In the short time Katie was with the Jensens, they had fallen in love with her. Had they not found Katie’s family, they would have happily kept her. In fact, they had already decided on a name, so Katie now has adopted a middle name—Jellybean. The Jensens described seeing Katie lying on the front steps of the house across the street and thinking, “Something’s not right”. The distinctive red harness, screamed “I belong to someone,” so the Jensens, who are self-professed “animal people,” put a leash on Katie and asked her to show them where “home” was. Of course, they had no way of knowing that Katie’s home was not a fixed location.

When asked to find “home” Katie immediately led the Jensens to the last place she had seen Rob, then headed down the bike path they often travelled together. But when the path crossed a street, Katie became nervous and seemed confused, so the Jensens returned to their home, where they pampered Katie with pizza and a cozy spot between them. She seemed to fit right in, so before Rob was allowed to take Katie away, the Jensen’s made him promise to bring her back for visits. They even asked him to put their names and contact information on a microchip registration. They are now official ‘ fairy dogparents.’

Ann, Rob and Katie made two more stops together—one to the Canyon Rim Petsmart for a tag that included a Street Dog Crew phone number (just in case), and one to Wendy’s, where Katie got two hamburgers of her own (hold the bun and condiments).