Tasha Bigras and her best friend Konrad have been overwhelmed by the support of everyone reaching out and donating towards their trip to reunite with their beloved fur-buddy, Bear. The pair have been scrambling to bring Bear home after disappearing from his Stoughton acreage last September and recently turning up in Toronto. An online campaign to raise funds for their trip has brought donations pouring in from sympathetic pet lovers from all over, now amounting to over $3,600.
"The love and support has honestly been heartwarming," said Bigras. "There’s people that have contacted me stating they could do any footwork needed in Toronto. We never thought we’d get all this support and love from complete strangers."
Although their proposed Friday departure had to be postponed from last week, the wheels are still in motion to bring Bear home. Some hurdles with paperwork have added certain challenges to their progress, but in an update posted to the fundraising page, Bigras stated that the final plans are in place and it is only a matter of time before Bear is back in Saskatchewan.
"I'm happy to say that as of a few minutes ago, everything has been set in place and Bear will be on his way home by tonight with a local farmer from where he is from. The funds raised will go towards compensating the fuel for the farmer, and a spa day for Bear, and the remaining will be donated to the SPCA," she wrote.
Throughout this whirlwind of events, the mystery of how Bear wound up in Toronto has also apparently been solved. The worry of malicious intent had been on the forefront of everyone's minds, but it would turn out that Bear was not stolen from his home. It seems instead that a few missed connections and a lack of familiarity is what led to his brief visit to the East.
Bear had apparently wandered several kilometers and arrived at a neighboring farmyard at the time of his disappearance. Farmhands there checked for identification but found no information and decided that he must be from a nearby farm. Not being a very unusual occurrence in rural Saskatchewan, the crew decided to give Bear food and water and figured that he would eventually go back home on his own.
"There was no identification, no phone number, or anything on the collar. So we just kind of figured it would wander back wherever it came from because none of us had ever seen the dog before," said Andy, a member of the farm's crew.
Andy said that throughout harvest, one young man also working on the farm had made sure the mystery dog was well cared for and had even developed a bond with their surprise guest. As the weather turned colder and Bear remained in the yard, the young man started taking him home in the evenings so that Bear would have a warm place to sleep.
"He was sort of taking over, looking after the dog. We made sure it was fed and had water when it was at the farm here, it was treated really well. But he had a big heart and the dog grew on him because, like I said it was a great dog," said Andy.
When harvest ended and it was time for the young man to leave for home, the crew began contemplating their options with Bear. They had hoped someone would turn up looking for him, and a Facebook post searching for his owners had gone unanswered. After some thought, they felt that the young man who had taken Bear under his wing should continue looking out for the lost dog at his home in Toronto.
"The owners here that own the place, they really don't want a dog around," said Andy. "And by that time, he kind of had talked to his mom about this dog and what a good dog it was. So we thought, 'You know what? It's a great dog and he has his sister and their two small kids. Maybe he should take the dog there,' and he did. And they just they just thought he was fantastic. I'm going to assume it came as quite a shock to them too, that the dog's going to be leaving them."
Andy shared his regrets that they were unable to find the solution that would take Bear home. It was simply a case of folks doing the best they could with the knowledge they had.
"He was a very good dog, so we knew it had to have come from someplace. We just couldn't figure it out. Nobody out here could figure out where he came from because we had not seen the dog before," he said.