Cross-Canada charity trek turns to desperate search for dog missing in northern Ontario wilderness

·3 min read
Luna, a dog belonging to Michael Yellowless, has been missing since July 2, after she leaped out of a canoe into the northwestern Ontario wild while the two were on a cross-Canada charity trek. (Submitted by Wayne Chisholm - image credit)
Luna, a dog belonging to Michael Yellowless, has been missing since July 2, after she leaped out of a canoe into the northwestern Ontario wild while the two were on a cross-Canada charity trek. (Submitted by Wayne Chisholm - image credit)

What started as a heartwarming cross-Canada trip to raise awareness and money for charity has turned into a heartbreaking search.

Michael Yellowless, a Canadian citizen raised in Scotland, came to Canada last year with the goal of walking from coast to coast to raise awareness and funds for Trees for Life, which is dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands.

He started the journey in early March with a dog named Luna. He was gifted the animal while in a job in British Columbia that required working with sled dogs, and they bonded throughout his time there.

But in the middle of their adventure, in northwestern Ontario between Fort Frances and Thunder Bay, Yellowless was pulling up their canoe to a shoreline when Luna leaped out and ran into the woods. That was on July 2, and he's been frantically searching for her ever since.

The journey has been put on hold as Yellowless hopes to be reunited with Luna.

Helping in search for Luna

Wayne Chisholm, who has been supporting his friend throughout the latest venture, said they've received several offers of assistance and suggestions, but the biggest challenge is accessing the location.

"There was somebody in Thunder Bay who had offered a drone and that he would come out for free, just pay his gas, but he himself did not have a car," said Chisholm.

"It's four hours from Thunder Bay and we have to get them either from Thunder Bay to Fort Frances, and then the full half-day boat ride from Fort Frances to where they are."

Submitted by Wayne Chisholm
Submitted by Wayne Chisholm

Chisholm, who is currently in Nova Scotia, has been following along since Yellowless left, getting in touch with him every couple of days to help plan his route and posting on his Facebook page.

For the past week, Chisholm has been doing what he can to help in the search for Luna, while Yellowless is on the ground in an area with minimal to no cellphone service.

The search efforts have received assistance from a caretaker for a cabin within a few hundred metres from where Luna was last seen. That person has let Yellowless set up base at the camp, and even brought out a local trapper to help for a few days.

From the beginning, Chisholm said, he has only been receiving an update maybe once a day.

"Our big concern is that when she jumped out of the boat, she still had her lead on and she ran off into the woods, and we're concerned that she may have been caught somewhere by the lead and can't actually get back to where Michael is," said Chisholm.

'It just touched me'

Chisholm said the trek started when Yellowless called him out of the blue, while Chisholm was still living in B.C., and asked if he would be able to stay with him and quarantine there while he gets used to the country and area before his trek.

"He's trying to do all this to save these trees in the walk, and then he chose Canada to actually remind Canadians about what we have, and that it's easier to protect what we have than to try and completely reforest from scratch, which is what Scotland's trying to do, and it just touched me," said Chisholm.

"Anything I could do to help was, you know, the least I could do so to speak."

Submitted by Wayne Chisholm
Submitted by Wayne Chisholm

So from last August until March, Yellowless worked some part-time jobs, where he met Luna, and explored the area until he left for his trip on March 4.

They made it nearly halfway across Canada until this setback.

A week after Luna disappeared, Chisholm remains hopeful.

"This would be like Lassie missing or you know, Abbott missing Costello. For Michael to have to try and finish the rest of this journey without Luna ... the whole thing is Michael and Luna: a rewilding journey."

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