Getting an urgent wake-up call at 1 a.m. is rarely a good thing. But for Wendy Pescud of Hilliers, the call that shook her from a deep sleep Sunday brought the best possible news.
Panda, her three-year-old mini- Rottweiller, was finally found after 16 hours lost in downtown Qualicum Beach — as hundreds of people poured into the town for the annual Fire and Ice Festival.
“I just burst into tears,” Pescud said of getting the call from a young couple departing an after-festival gathering at the old Qualicum Beach Fire Hall. “Oh, my God, you found my dog! I was so distraught.”
The happy ending came after a day-long search Saturday, aided by Qualicum Beach businesses, town public works staff and countless members of the public. It was finally brought to a resolution thanks in part to the Arrowsmith Animal Rescue Foundation (AARF), a volunteer-run support service. Using a photo of Panda and contact information uploaded by Pescud, AARF spread the word on its website and Facebook page and produced a poster with Panda’s photo and Pescud’s contact information within hours. In less than a day the Facebook post had 3,000 views.
“I met Panda this morning,” AARF co-founder Darcy Kydd said Tuesday. “Wendy brought her by to say thanks.”
The Odyssey started early Saturday morning, when Pescud drove to Qualicum Beach to visit some garage sales and run errands before Fire and Ice drew big crowds. Barricades had already been erected blocking alleys and streets to be used for the festival, and Pescud moved one of them to drive through an alley to get to the post office. When she got out of the car to replace the barricade, Panda apparently thought it was time for a walk.
“I didn’t know,” said Pescud. “It was totally my fault. She apparently ran around the other side of the car.”
Pescud went on to grab some groceries at Qualicum Foods, and it was upon returning to her car from the store that she realized Panda was gone. Panicked, she ran back into the store, where staff tried to calm her while reviewing security camera footage from its parking lot to see if it could be determined how Panda escaped.
The video showed the car’s doors hadn’t been opened while it was in the lot.
“I had to retrace my steps and figure out where she got out,” Pescud said.
When she realized where it had happened, Pescud hurried back and began an ever-widening search that enlisted town staff working with the festival and an attendant at the Chevron station.
The dog was spotted on several occasions, within the village core, but eluded capture as Pescud chased one tip after another.
After returning home mid-morning to upload a photo and her information to AARF, she was e-mailed a lost dog poster that she returned to distribute.
The poster, and extensive word of mouth, finally led to Panda’s capture. Michael Jay Adams and his fiancée had been approached at the old fire hall by a woman from out of town, who showed them Panda’s poster and left it with them.
When Adams left the party, he spotted the dog sitting a short distance from the hall. Jumping out of his vehicle, he managed to corner the skittish animal.
“She won’t come when called by strangers; she will only come to me,” said Pescud. “She squirmed a bit, but didn’t try to bite him. He put her in their car and they had my number on the poster, so they called me.
“I’m so thankful for the entire community effort and how these people helped bring her back to me.”