Sydney the street dog relocated all the way from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last spring to start her new life in St. Albert, Alta.
But after living with her new family for just 16 hours the 25-pound black lab-whippet mix managed to escape, leaving volunteers to search tirelessly for her for the past seven months.
So special was the skittish, skinny dog, a $10,000 reward was offered for her return, reports the St. Albert Leader. But no one was able to find her.
It could have been Sydney's shyness that helped her elude those searching for her, but it was more likely the fact she somehow made her way to Entwistle, a town approximately 100 kilometres to the west of St. Albert.
According to the St. Alberta Gazette, Ron Stoley had never heard of Sydney, nor the reward, but was happy to feed a small dog who repeatedly showed up in his brother's yard this past summer.
The dog seemed happy to live under a grove of trees and eat scraps and bowls of food left out for her, but when the temperatures dipped in mid November, Stoley knew he had to intervene.
According to the Edmonton Journal, Stoley coaxed the dog with a trail of wieners and bologna, until she finally made her way into Stoley's garage.
"That poor little thing. I think she would have had frostbite on her ears if she stayed out that night," Stoley told the Gazette, noting the evening he caught her was one of the coldest of the season, so far.
The next day he called animal control, who posted Sydney's photo online. The volunteer search team recognized her almost immediately.
"The fact this dog survived is a miracle,” Lisa Hoff, one of Sydney's search volunteers, told the St. Albert Leader, adding because Sydney came from Mexico she had never been exposed to cold weather, coyotes or Alberta terrain.
“Her coat was so thin — she was so thin — and I think the biggest issue would have been that she was from Mexico… The one thing that made it so Sydney could survive was that she was a street dog in Mexico for three to five years, so she knew how to scavenge, she knew how to avoid people, she knew how to hide.”
And hide she did. More than 100 volunteers aided in the search, including volunteers from the Puerto Vallarta SPCA who were brought up in the hopes a familiar voice might coax Sydney out of hiding, as well as a canine psychic, reports the Gazette.
Shortly after her capture on Nov. 19, Sydney was given updated shots, microchipped and flown back to Mexico with a volunteer who adopted her.
According to the Journal, she'll now live the life of a snowbird, calling Puerto Vallarta home during the winter months, while her owner volunteers at the Mexico SPCA, and return to Alberta to spend her summers in St. Albert.