For one horrible night this past week, Charles Phalen and his partner thought they were never going to see their five-year-old furry family member Tucker McPoodle again.
But folks in Baker Lake had other ideas.
Tucker’s scary adventure started innocently enough, being asked to go for a run with family members on the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Things quickly took a turn for the worse, however, and Tucker soon found himself dangerously outside of his comfort zone.
Phalen said the two dogs owned by his partner’s daughter, also out on the run that day, are local dogs and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they had to spend a night out on the land.
He said one of them actually prefers it.
“They took off and got over a rise when they saw some caribou and Tucker started to chase along,” said Phalen.
“They had just borrowed Tucker to go running and then I get a text telling me to come help find him. He’d taken off.
“They found one of the dogs he had ran off with around five o’clock, but it was already dark by then and he was nowhere around. That’s when we started posting that he was missing. I posted on Tucker’s page.
“I’m not a huge fan of Facebook. I just use it for the community page and to creep out my kids and whatnot. But Facebook put it out and, before we knew it, there were all sorts of people out helping and people saying they had seen him here or there.”
Phalen said there was a person out looking for Tucker on a sled at 10:30 at night.
He said there were all sorts of people out looking in Baker — not in any official capacity but as friends and neighbours — and it was really heart warming to see that.
“Tucker was outside for about 22 hours from Tuesday afternoon until about 1 p.m. the following day. It was a nice afternoon when they went out, around -13 C, but it went down as soon as the night came, with the overnight falling to – 25 C, with wind chills at -33 C.
“I was out looking and, coincidently, I was not very far away from him. Some guys saw me passing by, texted me, and then came and got me, and he was there.
“I asked them if he was alive and they said yeah, but he’s shivering. And he sure was. He was physically shaking, almost like he was vibrating.
“He kind of hobbled over to me, and then I warmed him up, put him on the sled and took him back.”
Phalen said the guys who found Tucker were out hunting, and thought he was a baby caribou they had been left behind.
He said he doesn’t know what frostbite looks like on a dog, but Tucker didn’t have any.
“I know it’s hard to believe, but I figure he must have snuggled up with a caribou. That’s the only way he didn’t freeze to death.
“The night he spent out on the land, we had a really bad night at home. It was awful.
“We went to bed that night thinking he was gone. Tucker is only five years old and that was the saddest part when we thought he was gone. I think you can get more ready for it when, you know, they’re older and you know it’s near their time.
“But having received so much help while trying to find Tucker really makes you appreciate humanity better because it was so nice that so many people cared.”