It’s become an epic search for a local celebrity.
Otis the dog went missing near Calgary last week and complete strangers are giving time and resources to help look for the beloved sheep dog.
Calgarians may have noticed his fluffy face when scrolling social media, repping the local brand “Camp”.
But now his picture is being shared in the hopes that someone will spot him. Otis wandered away from a Springbank home on Jan. 26.
Helicopter time is just the latest resource to be donated to the Gould family, who are desperate to find their dog.
“We’ve gotten so much more support than we could ever have imagined possible when our dog went missing. We’ve had people donating their time, we’ve had hundreds of people out here looking for him,” Leslie Gould said.
Originally, Leslie Gould said she and her husband Connor thought Otis had wandered to the nearby river.
“Our first fear was that he had gone down to take a drink and then slipped in under the ice and so we were trying to make peace with that,” Gould said.
Luckily, the Gould family received a hopeful phone call shortly after from someone who had spotted the pooch.
So along with friends and family, they started their search for Otis on foot and eventually reached out to local dog tracker, Frans Baar.
“We did a search and found the spot where Otis had been at least resting and I think he had stayed the night there,” Baar said.
The spot had feces nearby, believed to be from Otis, and spots of blood, which Baar said could be from irritated paws.
According to experts, a dogs behaviour can change after being lost over the course of days.
Some dogs resort to wild behaviour as a survival instinct, causing them to be less trusting of humans and easily spooked.
Dogs can even forget their own names, making it difficult for anyone calling out to them.
“Generally the more fearful the dog is the more likely they are to… run away, start losing the types of behaviour they used to know, forget their name and go into a panicked state,” Cindy Peacock, an animal behaviour specialist at Chasin’ Tails, said.
Baar is hopeful they will find Otis and believes dogs are more resilient than people sometimes give them credit for.
“It’s amazing how long they can survive,” Baar said. “They don’t need much food — they can go for weeks without food — as long as they have access to water and they don’t run into a hostile pack of coyotes.”
The Gould family is still holding out hope they’ll find their beloved sheep dog and bring him home.
If you spot Otis, the Gould family is asking that they be contacted right away, as he may be easily spooked.