Most people are familiar with the 1993 Disney Classic Movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible journey, in which three loved pets are separated from their human family by several mishaps and hundreds of miles. All seems lost, but after months of separation, Chance, Sassy, and Shadow return over the hill into the arms of the young children who have faithfully searched and waited for them.

Sometimes real life imitates cinema.  I own two camps on Greenvale Cove that I rent during the summer months.  I hold out one week so that my son Tim and his former college friends can all reunite for a week.  One of Tim’s friends is Dave, the owner of a rescue Border Collie mix named Willow.  Willow is very shy, bolts easily and will only come to Dave.  One night while the humans were enjoying dinner at the Red Onion, Willow got spooked, probably by some firecrackers and bolted out of the camp.  We spent long hours that night in the woods and backroads looking for her, but to no avail.

Several days followed putting up posters, calling the dog officer, and informing local businesses and friends.  The response we received from the greater Rangeley community was nothing short of amazing.  A black dog who runs away from anyone who approaches her is not going to be easy to find.  The days went by without solid contact and Dave had to go back to his job in Massachusetts. He returned every chance he got, spending whole days searching.

Day number 13 arrived and we were starting to lose hope.  How could a house dog survive 13 days in the Maine woods?  However, 13 was our lucky number.  Mike Ferguson had spotted Willow at his business and somehow had managed to herd her with his car to our driveway, though she remained elusive the remainder of that day.  Around 5PM Dave and my wife Micki were sitting on our front porch talking about the frustration of not being able to get to her when suddenly Dave’s eyes widened, and he said softly “she’s here…really”.  Willow had come walking over a small rise on the property.  He called her name and she cautiously walked, then ran into Dave’s arms!   She had stayed in our area for the day and had heard his voice!  Just like in the movie, but in this case a real miracle.

Special thanks to Mike and Julie Ferguson, Keith and Clare Webber, Evelyn Ewing, and my older son Rob.  Also, to the greater Rangeley community for their every effort over those two weeks.




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