Search over for Sally the sheltie

Barb Sweet
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Dozens of volunteers join forces to find missing dog

The drama play outs on a Facebook page, documenting a community spirit that touches Colleen Ryan beyond belief about the extreme effort of friends, neighbours and strangers that brought Sally the sheltie home.

On June 26, the situation was looking grim — frightened Sally had been dodging her searchers in communities from Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s to Torbay.

“There is no time for sugar coating this update. The situation is now urgent,” reads the posting on “Help FIND SALLY,” where volunteers steadily logged tips as they combed for clues on the black, white and tan coloured dog’s whereabouts.

“Some of us have seen Sally with our own eyes tonight and she is not looking good.

She is thin and her state of shock and stress, the lack of proper nutrients and rest are moving this search to a state of emergency.”


But by June 27, Sally was once again back in St. Philip’s with Ryan after being missing 19 days.

“I am still in shock of the response — people giving up their time for three weeks; people searching at all hours — six in morning, four in the morning  — looking for her,” Ryan told The Telegram Tuesday.

“It brings a tear to my eye.

“I don’t think we would have gotten her back without the community effort — people calling, ‘Where do you want us to search?’ It has renewed my faith in humanity.”

Ryan and her boyfriend Peter Cluff adopted four-year-old Sally on June 7.

Having not yet gotten a chance to bond with her adopters, she hopped the fence June 8.

Ryan was planting seeds and her other three shelties were in the yard, playing ball.


Made a run for it

She looked up and Sally was gone.

Ryan spotted the dog running down the road.

“We hadn’t had her quite 24 hours,” Ryan said, adding Cluff went off on his bicycle looking for Sally and she went in the car.

Over the days Sally was missing — sighted back and forth between the community and as far as Torbay — posters were put up, the Facebook page was buzzing and the couple received calls of sightings as volunteers organized search parties.

By the time they got to the spots Sally was seen, she was either gone or in hiding. Throughout the effort, people put out food, treats and water and set up live cages to help.

Then last Wednesday Ryan got a call at

 7 a.m that Sally had been sighted on Beachy Cove Road.

At first Ryan didn’t think it could be Sally as she was in Torbay the night before, but she was indeed seen scurrying into the woods.

Later on that day, Sally was seen off Broad Cove Road. A neighbour then came down and saw Sally on Ryan’s steps, but she bolted again.

The couple barbecued that evening and with no other sighting, the searchers went home around 11:30 p.m.

Between 4-4:30 a.m. Thursday, the couple heard a dog crying and found Sally in one of the live traps they’d set up — pet crates with spring-loaded doors.

“I am still in disbelief,” Ryan said, noting it’s incredible that Sally — despite not having a chance to get to know them and despite all the rain to wash away the scent since she went missing — had found her way back to the property.

Last Thursday, Sally went for a vet appointment, and though undernourished, she is doing well.

She had puppies about eight weeks before being adopted and had fended for herself for 19 days.

A photo of her on a large pet bed was posted on the Facebook page under the heading “Sally home: our reward.”

“She is settling in with the other dogs. On the weekend she was playing fetch. ... She needs to be reassured she is loved and cared for,” Ryan said Tuesday.

“I would have done anything. I had taken this dog from this family (that wasn’t able to keep her).

“One, I didn’t want to let them down and two, I didn’t want to let her down. I would have done anything to get her back.”

Ryan said some of the most ardent searchers were Kelly Kavanagh, Eren Bayazitoglu and Lyly Fortin, but there were dozens who pitched in.

“It was the overwhelming coming together of community that made it all happen,” Ryan said.

She said posters are often put up of missing cats and dogs and Sally’s story proves the effort can end happily when people pay attention.

“We are very lucky and very fortunate,” Ryan said.


Geographic location: Torbay, Portugal Cove, Broad Cove Road

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Recent comments

    July 03, 2013 - 07:38

    I was personally involved in the long and ardous search for Sally. Her good news story needed to be told! We were all exhausted, both physically and emotionally, with each passing day. But we persevered knowing that this was nothing in comparison to what poor Sally and her family were forced to endure!

    • Mary McKim
      July 04, 2013 - 12:42

      Hurray for Sally and hurray for all who kept believing and searching. This lost dog story has a happy ending. She found her own way home, but who knows what effect all the energy of all the people who wished her found had on helping her find her way.