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Divorce Blog

Hey Jude: What can losing a Pet Teach us about Divorce?

By Karen Stewart

Family with dog outsideOver the weekend I and a group of friends decided to go camping outside of Invermere in British Columbia. We have been going there as a big group for the past two years now because the spot can hold that many tents and the area is secluded enough for all of our dogs to be dogs off leash. It is the perfect playground for them to enjoy; the dogs were chasing each other up and down the hill that sat beside our site, they followed the men into the bush and helped drag back wood for the fire, and they sniffed every tree that we passed on our hikes. At night we attached glow sticks to our two dogs in order to see them in the dark. The glowsticks helped us a lot to know where they were, otherwise they would blend into the sheet of darkness.

A group of 20 people is a lot to manage, keep track of and maintain communication with. It was the missing communication that resulted in the downfall of the trip. Three of the men from the group brought fireworks with them and decided to set them off after dark. They did inform a few of the dog owners, but the message was not conveyed to the other owners that were situated at the other end of the site. The fireworks going off lit up the sky above us and crashed with a boom; the boom stood as a symbol of where the weekend was heading. After the fireworks were complete and we all stood in awe, I was quick to realize that I was no longer able to see my one lab’s glow stick in the darkness anymore. Of course, she was scared so we searched under the cars, in the cars, in the tents, close to the trees that were in our area but she was nowhere to be found.

The oversized group of us searched all night and the following days to come. Eventually, by Monday, we all had to leave but Jude was nowhere to be seen. I was pulled off the site and shoved into a car to head back to Calgary. I was terrified and my active imagination and knowledge of the woods kept the images of coyotes, wolves, cougars and bears on my mind. The only hope that I had at that moment was that I would be returning to our site the following weekend to continue the search for Jude.

We went to this site because it was secluded, but on the way home I hated it for that reason; she could be hiding anywhere, there were no boundaries in the search and there was no reception to gain knowledge, advice or help. Once we crossed paths with a radio signal, I knew I was able to reach out to as many people as I could for support in getting Jude back. We posted her photo and the story of what happened on a number of missing animal Facebook pages, contacted radio stations, local veterinarians, humane society, the city contacts in surrounding areas, the people that owned the trap lines closest to our site, animal control, pet trackers, rangers, RCMP etc. All the offices that we phoned said that they would put the photo of Jude up with her details and will keep an eye out. This was heartbreaking because I initially thought they would be the biggest support system in my search.

As the days continued I monitored my Facebook and the pages that Jude’s story was on and to my surprise, it was shared, in combination from each site, over 350 times. Comments from locals in Invermere and the surrounding area were going out of their way to help. They were taking time out of their day to search the area where we were camping and try to track any leads on her. People I have never met wanted to help Jude and me to reunite; I was a stranger to them.

Four nights and four days passed and the number of people that put their hand up to support our search was remarkable. Animal Control travelled hours to search the area, a number of pet trackers were already scheduled but spent countless hours giving advice, looking for updates and speaking with their connections. Volunteers were regularly walking the area and searching for any evidence, putting up posters and speaking with people. In addition to all of this, they were keeping us informed every step of the way. The dedication to helping us find Jude was endless and all that they wanted in return was to be present when Jude and I reunited. They were not looking for money.

It was on the fourth day that a woman by the name of Lana from ICAN saw Jude on one of her many walks in the area and put her on a leash. She phoned us and we were there that night to pick her up.

Although I consider this one of the most challenging experiences that I have been through, all the people that had volunteered gave me a whole new respect for humanity. It was from strangers reaching out and wanting to help that guided us back to Jude. I never anticipated that it would be the power and strength of people wanting to help people that would give me the result I was looking for.

Sharing this experience with the Fairway Divorce followers does not have an obvious connection to divorce, I, however, do believe that the message gained and what I have learned from the experience does. Do not underestimate the power of how someone can help you regardless of his or her position in society, relationship to you or job title. You never know what someone else has been through, what their experience is and what they have learned. You can gain strength and peace from someone that you do not even know if you open yourself to it. Humanity is a strong thing and everyone needs to be reminded of this and use it.

When you are going through a divorce, no matter how amicable, you need help. You need a community of supporters near and far to be your sounding board, your shoulder and the person that talks you up when you are at extreme lows.