By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Lost and found dogs are common here in Dog Town USA.
Ophelia the Husky’s story has a “Call of the Wild” flavor.
Ophelia was gone for a week. She was seen running with coyotes before being reunited with her owner.
The 2-year-old female Siberian Husky went missing on January 22nd while hiking on Bessie Butte with her owner Mackenzie Morgan and other human and canine friends.
Something got the huskies’ attention, and they ran off.
One came back after a few hours but Ophelia did not, setting off a search that lasted a week and involved hundreds of people.
“Helpers multiplied. Joggers, people hiking the butte. We flagged down anybody who was driving by on the road to help look for the missing dog,” said Mackenzie Morgan, Ophelia’s owner. “People on social media who’d seen my posts replied offering to keep their eyes open.”
Katy Albright was one of many who responded.
She gathered information about Ophelia’s disappearance, the location, temperament of the dog and helped direct a focused search.
“Social media is great. The lost and found groups are great. But that doesn’t capture all the people who might be recreating out here,” Albright said. “There’s a lot of people who come out to hike, ride mountain bikes, target shoot, so the main thing I like is the signs and getting local awareness and they did a great job of that.”
Mackenzie spent most nights Ophelia was missing camped near the Bessie Butte trailhead.
She roasted bacon and meats over a campfire trying to lure the dog back with the smell of food.
She and her friends tromped up and down Bessie Butte dozens of times at all hours calling for Ophelia.
It snowed and nighttime temperatures were well below freezing much of the time Ophelia was missing.
Meanwhile, volunteers made and posted dozens of brightly colored laminated signs along China Hat Road, Forest Road 18 and spur roads in the area.
“There are all sorts of dark holes you can go down when your dog is missing. Nobody sleeps. You must stay positive and open to all possibilities. If you cover all those possibilities, you have a greater chance of bringing your dog home,” Albright said.
The advice to stay positive was especially important in Ophelia’s case.
No one reported seeing her for six days.
“The I got a call for a man named Hans who was out walking his dog,” Mackenzie recalled. “He said he saw Ophelia running after deer with a pack of coyotes behind her. That was the first sighting.”
Mackenzie was worried the sighting might be a scam, which is known to occur on social media during searches for lost dogs.
“About 10-15 minutes later, I got a call from a gentleman saying ‘Mackenzie, I have your dog.’ I was a boatload of tears. I can’t even explain the feeling. I asked, ‘are you sure?’ He said, ‘she’s got her name tag on her collar and she responds to her name.’”
Ophelia was found on a spur road about 3 miles SW of Bessie Butte.
That person reunited Ophelia with MacKenzie.
“She looks great. Even the vet said she looked good. She’s a little skinnier than before. Her paws were a little cracked. There might have been a touch of frostbite. Her electrolyte levels were decent for being out here 6 nights and 7 days,” Mackenzie said.
“We didn’t know how far she would go. These signs were up in key areas. There are so many roads back in here. It was just amazing,” Albright said. “The coordinated effort with Mackenzie and her friends and family and people helping from near and far, it was just something else.”
Ophelia has been tired and hungry since being found.
Mackenzie says from now on, Ophelia will be on a leash.