“He just found his lost dog and they were sitting like this for 10 minutes.” This photo of Ramón Fernández embracing his Boxer Grettel went viral last year and when you learn the amazing story behind the picture you’ll need a tissue handy for the happy tears!
Ramón shared his story with DogHeirs.com and this article is reprinted with permission.
Ramon told DogHeirs, “Nine years ago I found and rescued Grettel on the side of the road in rural Costa Rica,” wrote Ramón. “She was so malnourished, really just a bag of bones. She was estimated to be 4 years old at the time. I took her home with me and nursed her back to health and she became my best friend, my confidante and roommate. She has the most amazing and tender personality. She has changed my life in ways I never could imagine.”
“She, as with most Boxers, is terrified of loud noises. And recently, on a Sunday, morning I had to run to the store. I left her enclosed in the front yard. Suddenly, during a celebration in town they set off some very noisy fireworks in town and as my neighbor was leaving from the same gate we use, Grettel ran. I was home within 30 minutes. The search began.”
“I searched the remainder of that day, asking neighbors. Only once was she spotted that afternoon then nothing. We live in a small rural town in the central valley of Costa Rica. I began going door to door with no results. Of course, I published on Facebook and the word began to spread. I joined as many organizations as I could find on Facebook that related to lost dogs, adoptions, dog lover sites etc. Friends shared the story and she went viral within Costa Rica. I printed up flyers and distributed more than 500 door to door all by myself. We printed larger ones to put in places of business. Soon the national paper picked it up and ran a story about it.”
“For 3-4 weeks would get calls she was seen 25-200 miles away. While not likely, unless she had been taken, I followed up. Messages were coming into Facebook from around the world. As we reposted daily she was going viral. I had messages from Africa, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Canada, the US, and many countries from Central and South America.”
“Daily, both morning and night, I would drive or walk continuing the search and never giving up. I did not feel she was dead. Not knowing anything was the hard part. Thinking about her being lost, hurt, vulnerable, hungry cold etc, was too much to think about. I had to concentrate on finding her.”
“Then about 4 weeks into her disappearance, I started to get reports she had been seen in a large coffee plantation outside of town. I went to speak with the people who are migrant workers there and asked them to keep me updated. I organized a search party to comb the coffee plantation, as it was too much to cover alone. People from various parts of the country came to assist and we combed the area. Nothing but some clues. Still I continued daily, taking her food bowl with me to shake it so she could hear it, sweaty T-shirts to leave so she could smell me.”
“Neighbors began to worry about the crazy man looking for the dog. They said just give up, it’s been too long or she will come back on her own if she can. I explained to them, ‘she is not just a dog, she is my little girl, she is my best friend and I cannot give up’.”
“On the morning of day 34 I did not search. I was exhausted. Rainy season was beginning. That afternoon it was raining hard after work so again I did not go. hat evening I decided to put the car in the garage and the rain had nearly stopped. When I got in the car, I though, “Here I am, I might as well go for another look.”
“About 3 kilometers from the house in a curve by the coffee plantation, I saw her. My heart nearly stopped. Could it really be her or was it just a street dog? The highway was narrow and no place to pull over. I stopped right there, put on the emergency flashers and got out of the car. I no longer saw her. I called her name. Out of the tall grass came that beautiful boxer head of hers. Time stopped. I squatted down in the highway beside the car and called her name, running toward her would only have frightened her.”
“She came out of the tall grass and her tail began to move until she was wagging her whole body. She came running into my arms. I was crying, I was shaking, I was laughing, it was the most complex set of emotions I’ve ever experienced. I managed to get her in the car and drive back to the house.”
“The next day we went to the vet. She had lost 5 kilos, but otherwise seemed to be in good health. I really do not know where she was all that time, I try not to think about the hardships she endured. I am happy to have my little girl back with me and I think she is pretty happy too.”
“During her absence I adopted another rescue Boxer named Bonn. I knew that when Grettel returned she would have a “little brother”. It worked out great, they love each other. Also, I have since become involved in animal rescue here in Costa Rica.”
This article was originally published on DogHeirs.com and is reprinted with permission.
Ramón and Grettel’s story demonstrates how the online community can truly help people find their lost loved ones! And Ramón’s perseverance while searching for Grettel is a wonderful reminder to never give up hope!