Jake the dog arrived in central Alberta in August 2007 on vacation from San Diego saying ‘woof y’all’ and according to the officer who found him in Ponoka five months later he will be going home saying ‘woof’eh.’
The story of Jake a three-year-old Chow/Shepherd cross is incredible. Jake and his family were on vacation in Wetaskiwin visiting family when he was let out in the yard and he never came back. The family left for San Diego without Jake.
On Jan. 30 community peace officer for the Town of Ponoka Kelly Tebb responded to a complaint that there was a dog under an abandoned bus near the Baptist Church in Ponoka.
Tebb coaxed Jake out with some pepperoni sticks.
“I checked him for chips or tattoos and I noticed he had a San Diego tag on him, which is unusual and you think that maybe someone just moved here and hadn’t yet registered their dog,” said Tebb. “I thought it was a 50/50 chance to call the number and sure enough the owner of the dog was surprised that the dog was found after missing since August of last year. The first words were how is he and when do I get him back.”
Jake’s owner, Brenda Hemsing, grew up on a farm between Ponoka and Rimbey and has been living in San Diego for seven years. The family was visiting her parents Arnold and Norma Hemsing when they let Jake out with their other dog, Coco, a mixed rotti chow.
“We found Coco right away but we couldn’t find Jake and we looked all over, my parents have been looking ever since,” said Hemsing. “I was totally shocked I had given up on finding him. I was very happy and relieved I’m still kind of shocked because I haven’t seen him.”
For being gone five months Jake is in great shape and doing very well according to Marine Huyssoon the owner of Old MacDonald Kennels where Jake has been staying and receiving two square meals a day since being found.
“I think he’s perfect, he is well taken care of compared to other dogs that we see and we see a lot worse than Jake. It’s pretty good that he was able to last that long. He was pretty brave to go all the way through the reserve but he’s a big dog with a nice coat and he was able to manage that quite well,” said Huyssoon.
Bob Purschke made the call to Tebb about Jake when the weather hit the extreme cold. He says that they had seen him around for a few months but couldn’t get near him to read the tag. When it started snowing he put the blankets out for Jake and kept him well fed.
“I work at IGA and they would give me some bones and I would take them to him, I fed him dog food and he had his Thanksgiving and Christmas meal. He wasn’t starving that’s probably why he didn’t leave,” said Purschke. “If we would of known earlier we would have gotten in touch with his family but we couldn’t get close to him. He wouldn’t let us near him and in the end it all worked out anyways!”
Plans are now in the works to fly Jake home sometime this week including the purchasing of a large crate and Jake needs to receive a few vaccinations before he can leave.
Tebb and Jake have become good friends as Jake greets him with a friendly jump and a playful bark. Tebb thinks it’s like something out of the movies and is glad it ends with a happy ending. A happy ending that would not have been possible without proper tagging and licensing of the dog.
“It’s overwhelming, it’s like a Walt Disney movie, it’s like Homeward Bound or the Incredibly Journey. You hear about them but you never experience a real life story like this. It’s a nice ending when the reunion happens. I would like to be a fly on the wall to watch the reaction,” said Tebb.
Hemsing’s six-year-old son Jared is anxious for Jake to come home and asks every day when he will be there. For the reunion nothing special is planned, just welcoming him back will be enough. Hemsing is very excited to welcome him home and thanks everyone for caring so much.
“It’s amazing, unbelievable, it makes me homesick. That kind of thing wouldn’t happen here. It’s amazing people have been so kind,” said Hemsing. “People are still working on trying to get him home. It’s a great community. That’s Alberta, people have more time and more compassion.”