Di Oliver believed her beloved Rosie spaniel was dead when she removed her lifeless body from her critically injured husband and their car wreck three weeks ago.
Shortly after the crash, the dog regained consciousness and fled from the scene, while Ms Oliver faced the chaos caused by her husband Tony Chandler’s airlift to hospital.
As Mr. Chandler battled a series of serious injuries in hospital, he called his wife to inquire about the spaniel.
Every day came the same answer – no sign of her yet.
A community of strangers is mobilized
But in the background, a community of foreigners from Northam and the vicinity of Western Australia’s wheat belt had begun to rally.
Among them were Debbie Keens and Sue Casey. They didn’t know each other. They didn’t know Ms. Oliver or Mr. Chandler. Still, they felt compelled to help.
Every day they searched day and night for the lost Rosie.
Chance observations kept morale high. A camera in the detention center had spotted her. Two drivers had reported seeing him.
They set aside food every day, tracked his paw prints, camped in enclosures at night, set up wildlife cameras, set up animal traps, and searched the bush with a drone.
“It was quite an adventure – falling into streams, cooking sausage in a guy’s pen.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Finally there was a call
Some 23 days after the search began, Northam rangers received a call about a black dog straying near the river.
Barely two weeks after the start of labor, community guard Amber Frankhuizen was present.
It took him a while to convince the frightened dog to approach. But she eventually won his trust, scanned her microchip, and reported back to the office.
They quickly realized that she had found Rosie.
“I had goose bumps, I couldn’t believe it,” Ms. Frankhuizen said.
She delivered the dog to Ms Keens and Ms Casey, who contacted the owners.
Tears of joy
Ms Oliver received the call announcing that Rosie had been found during a doctor’s appointment for Mr Chandler.
“I just couldn’t believe it – I cried,” Ms. Oliver said.
“My husband cried. He is very close to her. Even when he was doing drugs in the hospital, in his dreams he was petting her in his bed, it was just heartbreaking.
“And every day he was like, ‘Have they ever found Rosie? Have they found Rosie?’.
“When we got home she went crazy, it was unreal.