Sherri Storoshenko had nearly given up hope after her beloved dog Sheba — a Labrador pit bull mix she describes as her best friend — had been missing for nine days from her home in South Surrey.
The dog had wandered away from home on April 1 and, despite the efforts of friends and neighbours, there had been no sign of her.
But on Saturday night, after more than a week of searching and waiting, Storoshenko got the news she'd been hoping for when a couple called to say they had found Sheba.
"With COVID and everything this definitely showed me that there's a lot of really good people around in this world," said Storoshenko, 35.
Storoshenko, who lives in the Ocean Park neighbourhood of South Surrey, had been preparing to go camping when she let her two dogs out into her backyard.
Shortly afterwards, she noticed that Sheba, who she got when she was just 18, was missing.
"She's literally my best friend and my sidekick," said Storoshenko. "I don't have children, she is my child."
Storoshenko said Sheba had never wandered off before, but her age combined with her poor hearing and eyesight may have contributed to her getting lost and not being able to find her way back.
"She's going a little senile I think," she said about the 16-year-old dog.
Storoshenko, who works as a bookkeeper, spent $1,500 to hire a professional pet finder, who used bloodhounds to try to track the dog. She also putting lost dog posters across the community, which juts out into Boundary Bay near White Rock and the U.S. border.
Despite all the searching and help from her neighbours and others, Sheba did not turn up.
'Very, very defeated'
"The last couple of days I was feeling very, very defeated with everything. I was starting to think that the worst has happened," she said.
That all changed Saturday night when Storoshenko got a call from a woman and her boyfriend who said they had found Sheba. Soon after, Sheba was back in her arms.
"I started bawling my eyes out, started hugging her," said Storoshenko. "I couldn't believe it. I'm still kind of in shock that's she's home."
Sheba was found by Nicole Lunde and her boyfriend, Cali Martinez, who decided to take a Saturday drive from their home in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood to Crescent Beach in South Surrey to watch the sunset.
'Just waiting to be found'
Lunde, who grew up in Ocean Park, said at the last minute the couple decided instead to go to South Surrey's 1,001 Steps park to avoid crowds.
The park, which features a zig-zagging staircase down the hillside to the beach, is currently closed due to the pandemic, but while they were in the area Saturday, the couple spied the dog sitting in a clearing on the hillside surrounded by fallen trees, bushes and brambles.
"I think she was just sitting there in the clearing waiting to be found in the prickle bushes. But she was super calm, just a little bit of the shakes," said Lunde.
Lunde said Martinez ended up carrying the dog out of the area to where the couple was parked. That's when they saw one of the missing posters, made the match, called Storoshenko and soon after handed over the animal.
Lunde said she also has an older dog and was happy to bet able to get Sheba back home.
"My eyes were welling up with happy tears, too," she said, "You know you're just overjoyed and with everything that's going on right now, it's just really good."
Storoshenko said she offered the couple a reward, which they declined.
"You just do it out of the goodness of your heart," said Lunde.
Storoshenko said Sheba has been checked out by a veterinarian and appears to be fine other than becoming dehydrated and losing some weight.
She plans to nurse the dog back to health, is grateful the saga had a happy ending and will keep a close eye on Sheba now.
"I'm never gonna let her go again," she said.