A heart-wrenching three months have finally come to an end for a family whose favourite companion went missing in Aldergrove just four days before Christmas.
On March 24, Jason MacDonald got a phone call at 4 a.m. from a Good Samaritan who said he had a Catahoula leopard dog secured safely in his backyard.
MacDonald didn’t think it could possibly be his 9-year-old pal Buster, who had busted through the fence of his sister’s Aldergrove home while she was sitting him while the family took a trip to see relatives.
Little did they know that it would be so long before they would get to celebrate Christmas with their pup.
“We received word that we could come pick him up,” MacDonald said.
“We were ecstatic but still wondering… is this real? It is really happening?’”
Community helps find Buster
MacDonald, his wife Christie, and their 10-year-old son Wyatt, residents of Mission, had spent every day from Dec. 21 until late February searching for Buster.
“He’s never been away from home before,” the father said, noting that they had pinned up missing signs for the dog in areas of Aldergrove, Brookswood, and Fort Langley.
“The power of social media,” he expressed.
“If it wasn’t for others not giving up on Buster we wouldn’t have remained so hopeful.”
MacDonald said that at time when his family canvassed Aldergrove areas during winter, local residents would often know why.
“Are you looking for Buster?” Strangers would ask the family.
Others in the community took it upon themselves to conduct a search of their own in their neighbourhood after work, or venture down new walking trails at the park in hopes of seeing Buster.
Sightings of Buster were tracked in numerous locations – from Aldergrove Regional Park trails to Bradner Road in Abbotsford where the pup was eventually found.
Family ‘never gave up hope’
Temperatures dipped below -20 this past winter, with a month of freezing temperatures in January, compounded by snow or rain in Aldergrove.
Langley Animal Protection Society even told MacDonald that someone witnessed Buster being hit by a car.
“We didn’t know if he was alive after all of it, but we never gave up hope,” he emphasized.
The family even hired a pet detective who laid food traps and used scent-tracking bloodhounds to try and locate Buster – to no avail.
As it turns out, a Good Samaritan had noticed how skinny and weak a big dog sneaking around his property was in February and began to feed the poor guy every night.
It was around the same time MacDonald started hearing of less and less sightings of Buster.
The bond the Good Samaritan built with the terrified canine allowed him to lure the pup – who was Buster – inside a gated area with the sight of his next meal.
Then the Good Samaritan made a call to the family.
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Son Wyatt recorded his family’s reunion with Buster, an online video that’s been viewed nearly 10,000 times.
“You get to come home,” his mom Christie cried to the tail-wagging pup, who jumped up in between bouts of wails.
“Thank you so much,” she repeated to the Good Samaritan who cared for her dog.
The car ride home was full of tears, MacDonald said.
“It was the best day of my life since my son was born.”
As soon as Buster entered the family home he walked right up the stairs and snuggled into his bed.
Christmas with all family members present came late for the MacDonald family. But the next day the clan was finally able to give Buster his holiday gift – a giant bone.