Deer Park woman quits job, searches 57 days for missing dog in Montana

KALISPELL – A Washington woman’s painstaking quest for her lost border collie ended in tears of joy when the two were reunited in a Kalispell subdivision after 57 days of searching.

Carole King, of Deer Park, was on her way to Flathead County with her husband for a four-day vacation when the unimaginable happened. They arrived on July 20th and left Katie, their 7-year-old border collie, in their hotel room while they went out to supper. Katie was unable to be seen when the couple returned to Kalispell’s My Place Hotel.

“It was heartbreaking. King told the Daily Inter Lake, “I became sick to my stomach.”

She raced to the front desk clerk, hoping Katie was still in the building, after anxiously searching the room for any indications of her beloved friend.

“I said to the clerk, ‘please tell me you have my dog.’ The clerk says ‘no, she left about 4, 4 1/2 hours ago,’ ” King said. When the automatic doors opened, Katie had gone right out.

King and her husband combed the hotel grounds for Katie until the early hours of the morning, but were unsuccessful. Katie panicked, opening their hotel room door and fleeing, King suspected, as a result of thunder during an evening storm. The clerk helped get the word out on social media with a post in a local missing pets Facebook group and assisted King in creating a flyer.

As the days stretched into weeks, knowledge about Katie spread like wildfire online, spawning a slew of Facebook groups where users offered words of encouragement and shared information about recent sightings in the hopes of reuniting Katie with her family. King distributed at least 500 flyers throughout the county, searched all night, and installed a few game cameras in areas where Katie had been seen.

Katie was characterized as a high-maintenance border collie who was kind toward people but wary of approaching them, making hunting her down even more difficult.

“I never gave up,” says the narrator. “I never gave up hope,” said King, who left her job as a postal worker to pursue Katie.

Strangers encouraged her by sending her positive SMS and Facebook posts, and even dropped over food for her during the long search.

“I think what I got out of this was the kindness of strangers,” she said.

It was that very community that eventually brought Katie home.

On Sept. 15, King received a phone from a guy in the Country Estates community, just north of Glacier High School, who said he had a dog matching Katie’s description in his yard. King and her Kalispell friend Jan Leland had just printed flyers in the area the day before. She yelled for aid and dashed out the door, but the dog had already vanished by the time they arrived.

Not to be deterred, the two walked around the neighborhood with binoculars in hand, scouring the area for Katie. They approached a couple strolling down the street and inquired if they had seen a border collie. Although they hadn’t seen each other, the man did notice a black dog moving north. When the woman confronted King, she handed the pair a brochure and was prepared to walk away.

“As the lady walked back, she asked, ‘Is that your dog?’ She pointed to a tree that was quite black. According to King. “And then I look around, and it’s Katie.”

The gathering fell silent after some initial excitement, and King shouted out to her pet puppy, “Katie.” Katie, Katie, Katie!”

They were finally reunited as she trotted over.

King remembered, “I simply bear-hugged her; I wasn’t going to let her go.” “Tears were streaming down our faces, we were yelling, and everyone was high-fiving and hugging one other. People are pulling over to the side of the road, exiting their automobiles, and hugging us. I believe the entire neighborhood knew we had discovered her.”

Katie had dropped 12 pounds, was badly dehydrated, and was on the verge of starvation when King took her to a local emergency vet facility to check her condition.

“When the doctor approached her, she asked, ‘Is this the famous Katie?’ And tears welled up in her eyes,” King said. “I was moved by that.”

Katie was given fluids and instructions for a specific diet consisting of two tablespoons of food every two hours to help her stomach retrain. She’s skin and bones, but in excellent spirits, according to King, and will make a full recovery.

“I really want to thank the Flathead community,” King said. “It was just amazing, the teamwork that was put out to find a stranger’s dog.”

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