Why did the dog cross the river?
It’s an answer that only Jasper, the 63-kg (138-pound) Great Pyrenees knows — but his human family is happy to have him back anyway.
Mary and Brent Hummel of Castlegar, B.C., are thanking their lucky stars they were reunited with the big dog, who spent three days in the wild and apparently managed to swim across North America’s most powerful river flowing to the west coast three times.
Jasper somehow got out of the Hummels’ backyard on July 2, appearing to vanish into thin air.
“He’s kind of hard to miss. If there was a dog walking down the street that looks like a polar bear, someone would have seen him. He’d just evaporated,” said Mary.
The couple put out a call on social media, and got a tip that very evening — a boater on the Columbia River who spotted a large white dog.
The sighting, however, was on the other side of the Columbia.
That kicked off a fruitless evening of searching. The next day, however, another tip came in.
This time, Jasper had been spotted at a trailer park in Genelle, about 14 km down-river — and back on the waterway’s west side.
Locals tried to coax him in, but Jasper fled back onto a sandbar in the river. By the time the Hummels showed up, he was gone again.
Later the same day, another sighting was reported — this time at a campsite on the river’s east bank.
“He was swimming down the river and the campers coaxed him to shore,” said Mary.
The woman who spotted Jasper tried to feed him, but the dog wouldn’t have anything.
“He was just done,” said Mary.
The Hummels rushed to the campground and were ferried across the river by boat, but by the time they got there, the devious dog had once again pulled his disappearing act.
The couple didn’t give up, heading out to scour the countryside for Jasper again on the third day, but were starting to lose hope.
At one point, while crossing a bridge over the rushing river, Mary said she broke down.
“I was just bawling my eyes out and I was like, ‘God, you care about little birds, can you just reach down and care about my little dog that isn’t little?'” she said.
“In my heart I thought he was going to try the Columbia one more time and he was going to drown.”
The pair teamed up with a drone operator in an effort to cover a little more territory, and were driving down a back road, trying to keep their spirits up.
“We were making plans for the worst for poor old Jaspy,” said Brent.
That’s when the fortune struck.
“(Mary said), ‘Just stop here, and I’ll call for him,” said Brent.
“And I said, ‘There’s not going to be a Hollywood ending for this just now. I said I’m not stopping unless he’s in the middle of the road.
“And we drive 100 or 200 yards further down the road, and there he is, in the middle of the road.”
What happened next was captured in heartwarming video: A tired, but clearly excited Jasper trots towards the couple as they call to him in disbelief.
“We get our Hollywood!” Brent exclaims. “Oh ho ho! Jaspy boy! Unbelievable Jaspy!”
Looking back, Brent figures Jasper was able to push his way out of the couple’s yard because of an unsecured latch, then decided to take a dip in the river, not realizing it was rushing with a late spring freshet.
The couple have nothing but thanks for the many people who called in with tips, and who pitched in on the search.
As for what Jasper saw on his adventure, it will have to remain a mystery.
But the Hummels don’t care.
“We got our Jasper miracle and the Hollywood ending,” said Brent.