“At least you can see he has a pretty face now,” said Sindy Cooper, noting they had to clip mounds of matted and knotted hair from Tugger to reveal his eyes and snout. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

“At least you can see he has a pretty face now,” said Sindy Cooper, noting they had to clip mounds of matted and knotted hair from Tugger to reveal his eyes and snout. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

B.C. couple reunited with dog three years after disappearance

A purebred Pomeranian is back with his parents, likely after years in a puppy mill.

Tugger is back home with Mom and Dad after three years in possible captivity.

It’s suspected Tugger spent at least part of the past three years in a puppy mill, as evident by his rather aggressive sexual drive, said John Van Elswyk.

He and his partner Sindy Cooper lost the pup when he escaped their Murrayville yard one April evening.

They went door to door asking neighbours. They plastered the area with posters. They visited the SPCA and Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) frequently in the weeks that followed. But there was no sign of Tugger.

After a few months, they gave up the search, assuming he “had dinner with the coyotes” in their neighbourhood.

They gave up hope.

“We cried our eyes out,” Van Elswyk said.

Fast forward to the end of June 2018, and Tugger was found wandering the streets of Fort Langley. LAPS was called, and an ID check revealed Tugger was microchipped.

Although Cooper had changed her cellphone number since Tugger disappeared, Van Elswyk was still listed as a secondary emergency contact. So he took the “jaw-dropping” call.

Over breakfast at a Turkish cafe a few Sundays ago, the astonished couple learned that Tugger was in fact alive, and in the care of LAPS.

“It was like watching those IKEA commercials,” Van Elswyk said. “She just yelled ‘start the car’. Don’t even bother calling back.”

They were at the Aldergrove shelter 20 minutes later in tears of shock and disbelief.

“I could hardly breath,” Cooper said, her shaking while Van Elswyk said he was covered in goosebumps.

What they found was a three-and-a-half old purebred Pomeranian who weighs all of less than four pounds. He was incredibly nervous, filthy dirty, matted, and had to a few rotten teeth that needed removing.

But the second the couple made the clicking noise they used to get their dogs’ attention, Tugger seemingly recognize them immediately.

It was, as LAPS executive director Jayne Nelson described, a “very emotional” reunion.

“They had given up ever seeing him again so were very grateful to have him back,” she elaborated.

Cooper concurred.

“I could never have fathomed this happening… we’re just so grateful.”

.

A working theory

“It would have taken him four years to walk to Fort Langley” from their home in Murrayville, Van Elswyk said, noting there’s no way he made it there on his own.

So, after discussions with the veterinarian, they’re convinced Tugger was snatched up – because he was a young, unneutered male worth a “pretty penny” – and likely thrown in a crate or small cage and contained for breeding purposes only.

With Pom pups selling for $1,500 to $2,500 each, this little guy could was likely bringing in thousands a year, Van Elswyk interjected.

“Our theory now… we think he was in a puppy mill,” he elaborated. Cooper insisting that seems more credible given his disposition.

“He even wants to do the cats… Anything on four legs, he thinks it’s fair game.”

Thankfully, there will be no more breeding in Tugger’s future, Cooper explained, anxious to correct some of the aggressive habits he’s picked up while being away.

“We just want to make sure that he’s well taken care of and knows he’s loved,” Cooper said.

“The first week, it was like oh my god, I have a rotten kid… I was ripping out my hair” with him no longer house trained and constantly trying to mount their other dog, Babe, as well as their cat.

The second week, he calmed down, and started eat properly after the removal of two rotten teeth.

Now, as each day passes, he’s getting better and better.

“It was like getting a problem child and getting him some therapy. He’s actually really good. He’s really calmed down… I think it’s going to take a while just to get him calmed down.”

It’s already cost the couple $600 in vet bills.

The focus for the next few weeks will simply be acclimatizing him back into his life, working on his behavioural issues, and then get him fixed, said Cooper, who compared herself to a stressed mom with a colicy child.

“He hasn’t left my side… I move, he’s there,” Cooper joked, picking him up for another cuddle.

Tugger had been a gift only a few months before he went missing.

Cooper’s coworkers at a Burnaby traffic control company pooled their money – $3,000 – and ordered the pup from Ontario. They did it all in secret, and dispatched Cooper to the airport to pick up a package that turned out to be the little Pom pup.

At the time, she had recently lost her 18-year-old all black toy Pom, Cutie, and Tugger was a birthday gift to help fill the void in her life.

“They got together and decided I needed another puppy because they all missed Cutie. She was just everybody’s sweet little baby,” Cooper recounted.

She and Van Elswyk only had him a few months before he disappeared. But it was enough time to become attached, and the couple say they’re excited and relieved to have Tugger home again.

It goes to show that marking a pet – whether it be a tattoo or a microchip – is imperative. They’d never have Tugger back, if it hadn’t been for the chip, a story that Van Elswyk is quick to share with almost anyone who will listen.

“It’s great having him back. It’s just swell,” he said, picking him up and giving him another hug and words of assurance.

 

“At least you can see he has a pretty face now,” said Sindy Cooper, noting they had to clip mounds of matted and knotted hair from Tugger to reveal his eyes and snout. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

“At least you can see he has a pretty face now,” said Sindy Cooper, noting they had to clip mounds of matted and knotted hair from Tugger to reveal his eyes and snout. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

Just Posted

RDEK is calling for nominations for their Volunteer of the Year award in all six electoral districts.
RDEK posts operating surplus as pandemic reduces costs

The RDEK has posted a operational surplus of $8 million as local… Continue reading

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Fernie Ghostriders head coach Jeff Wagner has committed to two more years with the team. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press
Fernie Ghostriders coach departs: Wagner moves to Coquitlam

Jeff Wagner will move to the Lower Mainland as associate coach and director of scouting with the Coquitlam Express

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge by Arrow Lakes

Bridge is in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Most Read