2018-02-08 / Life in Leelanau


Persistence pays off as owner finds missing dog trapped beneath log
By Jen Murphy
Of The Enterprise staff

SARAH KELSON and Julie Dean are glad to have Grizzly home and healthy after the dog spent a week in the winter weather. SARAH KELSON and Julie Dean are glad to have Grizzly home and healthy after the dog spent a week in the winter weather. After a week in the cold and snow, Grizzly returned home to filet mignon and a warm bed.

Sarah Kelson, Grizzly’s owner, was visiting her mother, Julie Dean, in Suttons Bay when the retired Iditarod Alaskan sled dog disappeared after being let out one last time for the evening. Kelson had searched the steep hill just behind the family home several times but did not see him for days.

After multiple searches, she was convinced he had returned to his role as a sled dog and roamed far from home.

“People kept telling me to keep looking close to home,” Kelson said.

Eventually, that advice paid off.

Last Wednesday, Kelson found the dog. Although he had been away from his warm home for a long time, Grizzly hadn’t traveled a long distance. In fact, he was just down that hill behind the family’s home.

DOG OWNER Sarah Kelson gives Grizzly some love. DOG OWNER Sarah Kelson gives Grizzly some love. The night he disappeared, the dog had slipped on ice and fallen down the steep slope. He was partially wedged under a log, which prevented him from moving from the spot he had landed.

He also didn’t make any sounds to help Kelson or her mother find him.

“He doesn’t really bark. Maybe once or twice when he wants to be let in the door, but that’s it,” Kelson said.

While she was walking and searching again for Grizzly, Kelson saw the brown and black colors of his coat.

“His ears helped me know it was him,” she explained. “I saw the black tips of his ears and knew it was him and not just logs or leaves up the hill.”

Fortunately for Grizzly, Kelson carries a 100-foot climbing rope in her car. She secured the rope around a tree at the top of the hill and lowered herself down to her dog.

When she found him, Grizzly was trapped and wasn’t moving his back end. Kelson said she didn’t know if he was injured and she had to figure out how to lower him to the ground-level access road, another 40 feet down the hill.

She needed help, so she turned to social media.

“We posted on Facebook that we needed help rescuing him, and in less than an hour 100 people had viewed the post,” Kelson said. “And we had eight or nine strangers who showed up here to help.”

Within two hours of finding him, Grizzly was out of the woods and in the vet’s office. Fortunately, nothing was broken. Kelson said there was a bit of nerve damage, but that problem is expected to correct itself.

“The vet stayed open late that night to help us,” she said. “I was so happy there was nothing broken. And they found he was hydrated. He had full bladder, I suppose because he ate snow.”

Kelson is still amazed and grateful for the public response to Grizzly’s disappearance and the rescue.

“Through this whole thing, people were sharing their stories and that really gave me hope that I could find him again,” she said.

Overjoyed to have Grizzly home again, Kelson and Dean threw a party – complete with pizza and a cake – for everyone who helped that day.

Yesterday, Kelson said goodbye to Grizzly, but only for a short time. She is now back home working as an ER nurse.

Until Kelson returns to Suttons Bay, Grizzly will stay with Dean and continue getting stronger.

“I’ve taken care of Grizzly probably as much as she has,” Dean said.

So she is perfectly comfortable with this arrangement, as the dog has been her companion while her husband lost his battle with cancer, just over a week ago.

Common-sense tips for finding Fido faster

Here are some steps you can take to find your lost dog faster:

 Search the area around your home, then search again. Sometimes animals can be trapped and unable to move or bark. Be sure to look under and around any obstructions and in areas that are not in plain view.

 Contact local interest groups. Lost pet groups, the humane society and local animal lovers can help provide extra sets of eyes and sometimes extra feet on the ground.

 Post flyers. A photo and description of your lost pet can give others a picture to refer to as they keep a look out for your pet.

 Utilize social media. Facebook and local web pages can be your best friend as the online community can typically communicate faster than traditional media outlets about the possible location of your pet.

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Great news Grizzly found

Great news Grizzly found safe. All best wishes to all the Family from Kathy in Northern Ireland ( we are long time summer visitors to Glen Lake, and keep up to date with Leelanau Enterprise online)