KALISPELL, Mont. - After quitting her job, a Washington woman’s 57-day search for her missing dog ended in tears of happiness when they were finally reunited in a Montana subdivision.
Carole King, of Deer Park, Washington, had traveled to Flathead County, Montana with her husband for a four-day trip in July, according to the Daily Inter Lake. The couple arrived on July 20 and left their 7-year-old border collie, Katie, in their hotel room while they went to dinner.
When the couple returned to My Place Hotel in Kalispell, the dog was missing, according to the local newspaper.
“It was devastating. I got sick to my stomach,” King told the Daily Inter Lake.
King began searching the room and raced to the front desk to see if she had been spotted around the building.
“I said to the clerk, ‘please tell me you have my dog.’ The clerk says no, she left about 4, 4 and a half hours ago,” King said.
When the automatic doors opened, Katie had gone right out, according to the newspaper.
The couple searched around the hotel property, calling for Katie into the “wee hours” of the morning but did not find her, the newspaper reported. King believes a thunderstorm that night may have caused Katie to panic, open their hotel room door and run.
The hotel clerk helped King spread the word on social media with a post in a local missing pets Facebook group, and a missing dog flier was created, according to the Daily Inter Lake.
Soon, the days turned into weeks. As word spread of the missing border collie online, multiple Facebook groups were created with many offering information about possible recent sightings of the beloved pet, the newspaper reported.
King posted at least 500 fliers around Flathead County, searched into the night and set up game cameras in areas where Katie had been spotted, according to the Daily Inter Lake.
Described as a “high maintenance border collie who was friendly toward people,” King told local media that Katie was also very skittish and wouldn’t approach them.
“I never gave up. I never lost hope,” King told the newspaper, who quit her job as a postal worker to continue searching for Katie.
King said complete strangers helped keep her moral up throughout the days and weeks, dropping off food for her or sending an encouraging message on Facebook.
Then on the morning of Sept. 15, King received a call from a resident in the Country Estates neighborhood that a dog matching Katie’s description was in his yard, the newspaper reported. King and her friend had posted fliers in that same neighborhood just a day before.
King and her friend rushed to see if the dog was Katie, but by the time they arrived — the dog had already moved on, according to the newspaper.
The pair continued walking around the neighborhood that morning, scanning the area and speaking with neighbors. They ran into a couple walking and asked if they had seen Katie, who replied that they had not.
“As the lady was walking back, she points over to the tree where it’s real dark and says, ’Is that your dog?’” King told the newspaper. “And I turn and it’s Katie.”
King called out to her border collie, “Katie. Katie girl!” The beloved dog ran over and they were reunited after almost two months.
“I just bear-hugged her, I wasn’t going to let her go,” King told the newspaper. “Tears were flying, we were screaming, everybody is high-fiving, hugging each other. People are stopping in their vehicles, getting out and hugging us. I think the whole neighborhood knew that we found her.”
King said Katie had lost 12 pounds, was severely dehydrated and in starvation mode by the time she found the dog. Katie was given a special diet to help retrain her stomach, but was in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery, according to the Daily Inter Lake.
“I really want to thank the Flathead community,” King said. “It was just amazing, the teamwork that was put out to find a strangers dog.”
This story was reported from Cincinnati.