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Community comes together to help find Shelburne woman’s missing dog


Published on June 9, 2017

Sarah Clarke and Stuart happily reunited

©Amy Woolvett photo

Stuart isn’t just Sarah Clarke’s dog anymore.  He now belongs to the hearts of the thousands of people who worried, shared and helped to track down the lovable Bernese Mountain dog when he went missing.

Stuart was pretty famous before his disappearance - like Clarke, a therapist in Shelburne, Stuart is also a therapy dog and enjoys visitings residents of Roseway Manor.

Stuart is fond of long walks, people and getting his belly rubbed.

Since he was a puppy, Clarke would plop down on the floor, stretch out her legs and Stuart would flop into her lap with his head resting on her knees. He’s a pretty easygoing dog that can often be walked without a leash on trails.

 

The runaway

Over the May long weekend, Clarke went to visit friends in Tusket and, as usual, brought Stuart along.

Uncharacteristically, Stuart rushed out the door not long after they arrived and ran down the road.

Clarke was certain she would find Stuart right away, but that wasn’t the case.

“I feel like I terrorized that neighbourhood,” she said.

Stuart disappeared around 5 p.m. on May 20, and Clarke said people immediately started helping her look for Stuart.

“People were out driving and looking,” she said.

She was still looking at midnight.

“That was when reality sunk in that he wasn’t going to be found that night,” she said.

At 6:30 a.m., she was back up and was getting sighting reports from people in the Gasson Road neighbourhood.

“People were sighting him but by the time I got there he would be gone,” said Clarke.

She quickly posted a lost dog ad on her Facebook page.

That post would be shared 1,308 times, as far away as Massachusetts, with people all over the area doing whatever they could to help find Stuart.

The help that was offered was overwhelming, she said, and helped keep her spirits up while missing her fur baby.

 

On a search

Three days later, Clarke had to go back to work in Shelburne.

“It was awful,” she said.  She hadn’t heard any reported sightings of him since Sunday night.  By now, Clarke feared that a family had taken in loveable Stuart and worried she would never see him again.

“It was bleak,” she said.   

By that afternoon, though, sanitation workers spotted Stuart and called Clarke to let her know.

Stuart kept running away anytime anyone would come near.

On May 24, Clarke tracked down a live trap and set it with a piece of KFC chicken. That didn’t help.

The next day, rain fell hard and lightning lit up the sky.

“Stuart doesn’t like storms,” said Clarke.  “That night, I spent the night in my Jeep, terrified.”

People from Shelburne brought her food, pillows and flashlights.

Throughout the week, people from as far as Halifax came out to help search for Stuart.

It had been a full week since Stuart disappeared.

 

Homecoming

On the second Saturday, Clarke got a call from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Two officers decided to look after work for Stuart and spotted him, but once again, Stuart darted away. They called Clarke and told her of the sighting.

Her heart jumped as she realized Stuart was only a few houses away.

“I got there to see his white tip of a tail going into the bush,” she said.

She could hear Stuart pacing, stressed and panicked. She was afraid he was just about to bolt again.

Clarke stopped, went to the ground and stretched out her legs like she’s done a million times before.

Suddenly, Stuart flopped into her lap.

“I’m crying,” she said.  “He’s howling and crying, the DFO officer is crying.”

Clarke said she plans to bring Stuart out to the neighbourhood where he went missing, leashed and with plenty of treats - but this time, for the neighbours.

“How can you repay that kind of kindness,” she said.  She is so thankful for everyone who helped bring Stuart home.

She isn’t sure how to repay the kindness, but she plans to start, one batch of cookies at a time.