GLACE BAY — There is one doggone popular dog in Cape Breton — and one happy family.
After nine agonizing days and sleepness nights, Jerome Kelly and his wife Shauna of Glace Bay found their beloved cockapoo Jak on Tuesday.
“I was hugging him and he was jumping in my arms, licking my face,” Jerome said.
Jak was found at about 1:30 p.m. after running from woods onto Highway 125 and under a truck. The driver saw the dog and stopped.
“People were blowing their horns and yelling ‘We love you Jak’ out their windows,” he said.
“Cars were stopping and the highway was blocked, even the police were there. It was so unbelievable because everyone knew his name.”
It all began Oct. 16 at 9 a.m. when Shauna’s parents took Jak to a groomer’s appointment in Ashby.
“My parents had him on a leash and he wiggled his head out of his collar and took off,” she said.
“We were driving the streets of Ashby looking for him until past midnight.”
The hardest part was going home without him.
“It broke my heart,” she said.
“My kids cried themselves to sleep. One said, ‘How can you leave him there at night? Would you leave me if I was lost?’”
Shauna put pictures of Jak on Facebook and asked for help.
Shauna said they got Jak on the birthday of her late father-in-law Jerome Aubrey Kelly, whose initials they used for the dog’s name.
“People were so wonderful,” she said. “Every day we received updates of any sightings.”
The next day Jak was spotted by the highway off George Street and it was assumed he walked the Baille Ard Nature Trail. The family spent days walking the trail and Jerome spent nights watching live traps they set up.
On Thursday morning someone spotted Jak walking across an overpass on Highway 125 near the rifle range.
“There were hundreds of people searching behind the mall, in the woods. There were even ATVs out,” Shauna said.
Monday was day eight and Shauna asked if people would give them 48 hours to go into the woods alone in hopes of drawing him out.
Shauna said the Nova Scotia Lost Dog Network said lost dogs almost go into survival mode.
“We knew we’d have to lure him like an animal with food and our scent.”
Shauna spotted Jak on Tuesday but he was scared and ran toward the highway where Jerome was finally able to capture him.
Jerome said they took him straight to the Sydney Animal Hospital where the staff was overjoyed to see him.
“They checked him, bathed him and gave him antibiotics and never charged us,” he said. “They even gave him a new toy and a new leash.”
The incredible news was shared by hundreds of people on Facebook and reached their children fast. Brooke, 15, was at Glace Bay High School when she found out.
“I was out in the hallway writing a test I had missed and everyone began coming out of class to tell me. I was so happy.”
Bryden’s teacher broke the news to him after Jerome texted her a picture of him with Jak.
“I was happy. Every class was told.”
Meanwhile as news spread Breagh, 13, said they got home to find someone had posted a ‘’Welcome home Jak’ sign on their front window. A knock on their door found a neighbour delivering supper.
By 7 p.m. there were more than 1,700 likes on Shauna’s Facebook post stating their dog had been found.
Jerome said they are grateful and astounded by the outpouring from the public.
“People have been so amazing we could never find the words to describe it.”
In the meantime, Jak seems oblivious to how popular he’s become, but his tail made it clear how happy he is to be at home.
• Age: 4
• Favourite toy: A stuffed ostrich
• Favourite food: Cheese
• Favourite pastime: Napping on the top of the couch