Leo, Lost and Found

By Janet SooHoo, March 2021, Updated August 2021

We have a doggie tale that many in our community have said is worth sharing. Recently, we lost Leo, our five-pound Chihuahua, for three nights and four days in what was some of the worst winter weather Seattle has seen in some time. An army of friends and complete strangers came together to search for our little guy, but ultimately, it was dogs who found our Leo.

We were walking in Lincoln Park (a 135-acre park in West Seattle) on Thursday, February 11. When Leo lunged at another dog, the handle of his retractable lead popped out of my hand and sprung toward Leo, scaring him and basically “chasing” him. He bolted into the woods and we lost him. We searched from 2:45 p.m. until 9:30 that night. The next day, we started at 5 a.m. and searched through the day until 7:30 p.m., when the snow started to come down heavily.

Through local neighborhood blogs, lost-dog Facebook pages and flyers we had posted throughout the park and surrounding areas, dozens of friends and concerned strangers joined our search. Among them was a gentleman who had a champion Bloodhound and took up the search when we were too exhausted to continue. On Friday, the Bloodhound, named Townes, took Leo’s scent and searched from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., and on Saturday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. through the worst of the snowstorm. The storm dumped nine inches of snow in our area and made it impossible for us to get to the park. Meanwhile, the temperature in Seattle dropped to 28 degrees, with the windchill making it feel like eight degrees.

When the snow stopped falling on Sunday, people went back into the park. A man named Tom called me at noon, saying he heard one desperate yelp (just one cry). We hightailed it to the park and asked every walker we passed to help with the search. One of those was a woman with a dog named Storm; I let Storm smell one of Leo’s toys and asked him to find my boy. He took two big sniffs and ran off. Within minutes, Storm had located him!!! Leo’s lead had gotten tangled in some branches and he was curled up at the base of a tree, cold, wet and starving!

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We took him for an emergency vet check and he was found to be completely fine. No hypothermia or dehydration. Amazing! (A quick and unsolicited product promo: We are absolutely convinced that his Chilly Dog wool sweater kept him alive through the snowstorm.)

The search for our lost pup restored our faith in humanity. There was an outpouring of kindness; people gave of their time and energy to go out every day to search, and offered suggestions and many prayers! But ultimately, it was Townes the Bloodhound who confirmed the area Leo was caught up in, and Storm who found him.

Leo was lost on February 11 and found on February 14, Valentine’s Day. He now has a new name: Leo Valentino. Such a strong little guy!

Images courtesy Janet SooHoo