Dexter the cat was reunited with his human Dianne Walters after 7 months apart. Dexter escaped in Pritchard B.C. while Diane and her family were evacuated and was only found on Sunday. Gail Robinson photo.

Evacuated cat finds his way home seven months after B.C. wildfires

‘He just decided he was going on a holiday — an extended holiday’

Gail Robinson and Mary Huntington are fans of happy endings.

That’s why they drove more than 600 kilometres in a snowstorm to deliver Dexter the cat to his home in Williams Lake on Wednesday.

The two are from Pritchard, a small community outside Kamloops, and their story, and Dexter’s, is one you can’t help but feel good about.

The story starts last July, as two cars stuffed with six adults, seven cats, two dogs, one rabbit and all the personal belongings that could fit, evacuated from Williams Lake at the height of the wildfires.

One car belonged to Diane Walters, Dexter’s owner, and the vehicles included relatives and a friend.

The group landed in Pritchard where Brian and Violet Hall, complete strangers, welcomed the group and set them up with a beautiful fifth wheel, litter boxes, accommodation for those who needed it and even a hutch for the rabbit.

“They said they’d take the critters and the people that you need,” says Diane.

Read more: Dogs and cats get love from volunteers in Kamloops during wildfires

“Everything was fine, except I have a cat, Dexter, who is used to coming and going as he sees fit. And he knows how to open screen doors,” she says with a laugh.

On the night before they were set to return home, Dexter got tired of the fifth wheel and headed to the hills, leaving his family none the wiser on where he went.

Despite a sighting a week later, Dexter had not been seen or heard from since.

Mary Huntington (left) and Gail Robinson (right) reunited Diane Walters with her cat, driving him up from Pritchard in a snowstorm. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

That is, until Gail and Mary got a phone call last Sunday.

The two, who are roommates, volunteer with the Pritchard Volunteer Fire Department, which sent members to Williams Lake, 150 Mile and 70 Mile House during the summer’s wildfires.

They were also on the front lines of the start of a wildfire near Pritchard during the summer.

This phone call was nothing of the sort, however.

The local ecodepot, a dump-transfer station, was calling to request aid for a cat trapped in one of the dump areas.

“They said, there’s been a cat in there since yesterday and we don’t have a long enough ladder,” says Gail.

Mary, Gail and another volunteer headed over.

“He sticks his head out from the cardboard meowing, ‘help me!’” says Mary.

Read more: Dogs stick with sheep through wildfire

While reluctant to get into the carrying case, Dexter was friendly, and the group soon determined he wasn’t a stray.

“He was so friendly and happy,” says Gail.

They put a picture of the cat on the Pritchard Facebook page, and didn’t get many results. They tried the next day, and still hadn’t determined who the cat belonged to.

Then, when they recalled a cat had gone missing over the summer during the wildfires, a friend suggested they post it on the BC & Alberta Emergency Livestock/Animal/Horse Evacuation Support Group.

Within an hour, they had located Diane’s family’s original posting and were in touch with a family member.

From there, Diane was only a phone call away, and Dexter a short trip to the vet to check his chip, before they confirmed the two belonged together.

“When I saw the picture, I had no doubt,” says Diane, noting her dog probably missed Dexter the most.

Two days later, Diane and Dexter were reunited, as Mary and Gail refused all offers to pick Dexter up and made the trip to Williams Lake themselves.

While a tad shy, (likely because of all the attention he was getting) it was obvious Dexter was happy to be reunited with his human.

“The fire department comes to the rescue again!” says Mary with a laugh, admitting, alongside Gail, they were remarkably touched driving to the Cariboo and seeing the welcome home signs that are still in place along local roads.

“He just decided he was going on a holiday — an extended holiday,” says Diane.

She says she had worried when the winter hit that Dexter wouldn’t make it home, particularly in a location heavy with coyotes, but the cat seems to have become an expert mouser.

He’s settling in now, says Diane, and he’s relaxing in the only place he can escape from the dog, who is “so excited to see him she won’t leave him be.”

As for Mary and Gail: they’re just happy to see Dexter home.

“I wanted to see the reunion,” says Gail.

“We wanted to see the end of the story,” adds Mary.


@Tspricker
tara.sprickerhoff@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Dexter is happy to be home, taking a perch out of the way of the dog who is “so excited to see him she won’t leave him be.” Diane Walters photo.

Just Posted

Departure Bay school parents concerned about rotating learning space

Eco-school students being taught in library and picnic areas, say parents

Tilray to export cannabis formulation to U.S. for clinical trial

Marijuana remains illegal in most of the U.S.

District of Lantzville adopts new logo

Logo features sea glass in shape of wave and the slogan ‘Love life here’

Attorney general takes Nanaimo councillor to court over release of confidential documents

Coun. Gord Fuller and three other Nanaimo citizens named in Supreme Court petition

Council reverses past practice, will broadcast meetings during election campaign

Nanaimo city council votes 5-4 to continue with broadcasts

Local violinist Ray Chin performs at the Nanaimo Arts Council

Concert to feature a varied selection of compositions

Candidate lists finalized for Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN, school district

Nomination deadline passes in advance of Oct. 20 local government elections

Porsche and Subaru dealerships can proceed with planning in north Nanaimo

City council unanimously allows rezoning application process to move forward

Food bank collects fixings for Thanksgiving dinners

Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank held its Thanksgiving Food Drive on Saturday in Nanaimo

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read