Alberta basset hound survives 7 days in bitter cold: ‘Nothing short of a miracle’

Click to play video: 'Gus the basset hound survives the bitter cold while lost in Beaumont for a week'
Gus the basset hound survives the bitter cold while lost in Beaumont for a week
A Beaumont dog — a basset hound, no less — went missing over the coldest week of the year. Miracuously, Gus is back in the warm embrace of his owner, after strangers rallied to save his young life. Sarah Ryan reports – Jan 17, 2024

A basset hound that went missing during Alberta’s extreme cold snap last week is back at home safe and sound after spending seven days out in the brutal cold.

It’s a feat that Gus’ owner, Teresa Nisperos, calls “nothing short of a miracle” after seven worrisome days wondering if she’d ever see her beloved companion again.

It all started last Tuesday, as temperatures in Alberta were about to plunge into -40 C territory. Gus was outside in his Beaumont, Alta., backyard for a bathroom break when after a few minutes, Nisperos noticed it was very quiet.

She looked outside and sure enough, Gus was gone. She believes the back gate was accidentally left open by crews who came to shovel her snow.

“I couldn’t find him,” she recalled Wednesday. “My heart sank at that point, realizing he was probably gone.”

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Nisperos immediately went out searching for Gus, who she lovingly calls Boo Boo Bear.

“Every day I’m out there with my husband, looking, circling around the neighbourhood, calling out for him.”

Click to play video: 'Montreal community gathers to find lost dog during freezing cold'
Montreal community gathers to find lost dog during freezing cold

Soon it became a community effort, with people from all across Beaumont joining in the search. There were Gus sightings all over the community south of Edmonton.

“People were messaging me on Facebook saying they think they’ve spotted Gus. There was even another message saying he was taken in by someone,” Nisperos recalled.

She didn’t sleep a wink while Gus was gone. What little sleep she did get was from the couch in the living room, in hopes she would hear him return to the back door.

“I cried so much,” she said. “Even when I was diagnosed with cancer, even when I was going through treatments, I didn’t shed a tear, not even one. But the thought of losing him and not having him back, I was just bawling my eyes out the entire time.”

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Nisperos got Gus in October 2022 as she was going through cancer treatment. Being immunocompromised, she didn’t go out into a lot of public places and thought Gus would bring her companionship at home.

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“I would just be here at home with Gus and Latte our other dog and we would be together 24/7. He was kind of my strength, one of my strengths, and one of my pillars when I was sick.”

Teresa Nisperos' dogs Gus and Latte.
Teresa Nisperos’ dogs Gus and Latte. Supplied to Global News

Nisperos never lost hope and on Tuesday — seven days after Gus went missing — another tip came in. Gus had been spotted along a nearby rural road.

Mike Ducherer, owner of Fill ‘er Up Potable Water, was doing a delivery when he spotted the pup and tried to catch him.

Recognizing the animal was timid, Ducherer instead snapped a picture of the dog and posted it on a local community Facebook page.

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“That’s where things exploded. The town just reached out to me and asked exactly where I saw it and what he was doing and if it was that dog. I didn’t even know the dog was missing.”

Basset hound Gus on the loose near Beaumont, Alta., just before he was found after a week in the cold. Courtesy, Mike Ducherer

Tayzha Moniz, one of Nisperos’ neighbours who has been greatly involved in the search for Gus, saw the post and contacted Nisperos.

They all jumped in their vehicles and headed to the area.

By the time they arrived, 15 to 20 cars were already there – community members trying to track Gus down and bring him home once and for all.

“Before you knew it, it just spread like wildfire,” Moniz said. “It was just warm enough to get enough people out, and the community… it was incredible.

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“Every time I turned around there was another neighbour.

“There was no escape for Gus, it was time to come home.”

Then, out of nowhere, Gus made an appearance.

“He came out of wherever he was hiding,” Nisperos said. “He was very weak, you could see he was visibly shaken and afraid. He was even running away from my son who got so excited upon seeing him.”

Nisperos slowed down her vehicle and began to follow Gus. With her window open, she began to call his name.

“I said, ‘Gus, Gus it’s me. It’s mommy,’” Nisperos said, emotionally.

“He laid on the road and he was probably asking to be picked up. I rushed next to him, hugged him, kissed him and said, ‘It’s OK. You’re home, you’re home, you’re home.’ He couldn’t stop crying even until we got back home. He was still crying. It was an amazing moment.”

The first thing Gus wanted when he got home — food.

“He dashed through the door from the car, bolted. Went straight for the food and he just devoured everything. I was even afraid he was going to choke on his food but thankfully he didn’t,” Nisperos said.

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Gus visited the vet on Wednesday and apart from a small laceration on his nose likely from frostbite and being very tired, he appears to have come out unscathed.

“There’s nothing wrong with Gus. He’s a symbol of resiliency for me,” Nisperos said with Gus by her said. “He’s our brave Boo Boo Bear.”

Teresa Nisperos and her basset hound Gus. Sarah Ryan, Global News

Overcome with emotion talking about Gus’ return, Nisperos could not be more thankful to everyone in the community who helped bring Gus home.

“Seeing him is nothing short of a miracle and I’m just thankful to everyone who came out there to look for him.”

During the recent cold snap, the Alberta SPCA said it saw a “significant spike” in calls related to animals being out in the cold.

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“Traditionally, our investigations are split evenly between livestock and companion animals, and that was the case during the cold snap,” Alberta SPCA spokesperson Dan Kobe said in a statement.

Anyone outside of Edmonton or Calgary who sees an animal in distress outside in the cold can call the Animal Protection Line at 1-800-455-9003.

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