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[National Post Online]
[National Post Online]

June 20, 2000

Poodle in ‘great shape’ despite soggy journey
Trekked for 5 days, 30 km through rainy Winnipeg

Jamie Irving
National Post

Brian Donogh, The Canadian Press
Heather Hammond feeds her poodle, Demi, a treat in Winnipeg on Sunday after the dog walked for five days and about 30 kilometres through muddy fields and thick woods to try to find her way home.

On most days, Demi’s most daunting task will be to lift her paw to ring the little bell fashioned by her owner’s husband, Greg Hammond, signalling she wants the door to be opened -- so she can take a stroll.

But earlier this month, during a stay at a kennel situated in Argyle, northwest of Winnipeg, the white miniature poodle got ambitious and headed for home -- five days and 30 kilometres away.

Perhaps Demi was lonely or homesick.

Whatever the motivation, like the 1993 Disney movie of the same name, the little 18-pound poodle was decidedly Homeward Bound.

The weather couldn’t have been worse: five days of solid rain.

“But she just got a spark in her eye and said: ‘I’m outa here,’” said Heather Hammond, Demi’s owner.

Mrs. Hammond said her dog was lucky not to be run over. “She is quite stupid as far as cars are concerned.”

Demi began her very own incredible journey when Mrs. Hammond went to see her ailing mother in British Columbia. Her husband and son were both busy and she wanted her dog to have the best possible care.

“My guys are very busy, one fellow has two jobs -- they didn’t think it was fair to leave the dog alone all day,” said Mrs. Hammond.

With the best interest of the dog in mind, Mrs. Hammond lodged her canine companion with a local kennel.

But on June 7, Demi fled the kennel and hit the road.

On June 10, Greg Hammond mounted an intensive search for her, knocking on doors and putting up notices in Stonewall, Gross Isle and Stony Mountain asking for information about the missing poodle.

During one of the search expeditions, the rain had been so bad, for so many days, Mr. Hammond got his car stuck on one of the gravel roads.

“The motor league wouldn’t come and pull them out because they weren’t on pavement,” said Mrs. Hammond. “He had to get some guy with a big tractor to pull him out -- for $150.”

At different times, over the next few days, reports drifted in about a white miniature poodle travelling south on Highway 7 outside Winnipeg. Mrs. Hammond also got calls from a number of local farmers reporting what sounded like a small dog crying at night.

Finally, on June 12, at 11:50 p.m., Demi was reunited with her owner.

She was rescued by a Fred Varity, a local Winnipeg resident who had heard about the search for the dog from his brother.

“Her paws were bloody, she was absolutely covered in ticks and a little bit skinny -- but other than that she was in great shape,” said Mrs. Hammond.

(Following this traumatic experience, Demi returned to her pleasant, somewhat pampered, but otherwise unremarkable life. In 2005 she succumbed to advanced old age, and is sorely missed. Greg and Heather Hammond are our personal friends. - Tony H-J)