MONTREAL—A Montreal pooch is about to return home from a shocking, unscheduled, 4,500-kilometre journey that over the last year allowed her to see more of Canada than most Canadians do.
The black Labrador named Pollux, a rescue dog who hated water and rain, bolted from the backyard during a soggy day in June 2010 and left her east-end Montreal home.
Her owners believe she fled through an open gate. It’s unclear what sorts of adventures the littlest hobo had next.
All they know is that she finally wound up just outside Kamloops, B.C., where she was found last month.
“She went from the east side of town to the west side of the country,” joked Isabelle Robitaille from her Montreal home on Wednesday.
How she got to B.C. remains a mystery. Details of the trip remain a secret to everyone but Pollux.
“We don’t know,” said Robitaille, who has a number of theories about what happened.
“And she can’t talk.”
In the days and weeks following Pollux’s disappearance, Robitaille said she looked everywhere for the dog and routinely heard of sightings but no firm information.
On the day she disappeared from the family backyard, it had been raining.
Robitaille suspects she might have hopped into a freight train to get out of the rain. But she said it’s also possible she was picked up by a trucker or a family heading west.
Robitaille gave up hope.
The mother even went as far as getting a new dog, assuming her three kids would never see Pollux again as the months dragged on.
Fast-forward to Canada Day 2011 and a shocking phone call from the SPCA branch in Kamloops: a dog with a microchip implanted in her skin and containing Robitaille’s contact information was found in B.C.
“I said, ‘Send me pictures,’ because I didn’t believe it,” Robitaille said.
“And they sent me a picture and it was her.”
Pollux was alive and well — although a bit leaner than before, but otherwise in good health.
The Labrador retriever had been named Suki by her saviours in the southern interior city of Kamloops, B.C. She has lived there at least a month after being found about 65 kilometres outside the city, in a rural area.
Sarah Gerow of the SPCA in Kamloops said Pollux was no worse for wear after a year on the road.
“She’s in good health, good body condition so she’s obviously had help along the way,” Gerow said.
“It’s amazing, this dog has probably seen more (of Canada) than the average person has.”
Pets from out of province are a rarity at the shelter.
“We’ve had cases of animals going missing across town, but not across the country,” Gerow said.
Without the chip, Gerow and Robitaille agree a reunion would not have been possible. The procedure is simple and can save time in tracking down a pet owner.
“Without it there’s no way we would have found Isabelle, given the distance and time that’s passed,” Gerow said in a phone interview. “It’s smaller than a grain of rice and implanted just underneath the skin.”
In fact, Robitaille was so sold on the chip that her husband immediately had the family’s new dog, Candy, fitted with a chip, too.
“It took a long time for the kids to accept Candy, but they are now so excited to have Pollux back. They’re very, very excited,” Robitaille said.
Getting home won’t be nearly as big an ordeal: Pollux will be flying home courtesy SPCA International, who’ll foot the bill.
Pollux is expected home late Thursday, or early Friday.
“She’s going to be 9 this summer so she’s going to be home for her birthday,” Robitaille said.