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St. Anthony's, N.L.: March 2006

On February 25th 2006, a snowmobiler failed to return home after a trip out on the Barrens of northeast Newfoundland. The day was stormy, and there were high seas. His snowmobile was found the next day, approximately 200m from the ocean, but despite a large scale search effort, there was no sign of the missing man.

NFLD Search

Photo Courtesy of The Northern Pen, St. Anthony's

OVSARDA deployed two dog teams to the area on March 17th, at the request of the family. For three days, these teams combed the drifting snow, the thick tuckamore bushes and the windswept plateaus of the Barrens. The snow was so deep in places that the dogs had to 'swim' through it, and fell into troughs so deep that only their ears remained visible. Winds of up to 50km/hr pulled the search vests right off the dogs' backs, and blowing ice crystals cut at the handlers' faces. When it wasn't cold and windy, it was hot - almost tropical heat and glare off the snow resulted in sunburn.

Teams traveled about the Barrens on the back of snowmobiles. In one particularly grinding day, approximately 70 kms were logged in snowmobile travel alone. Dogs and handlers were so tired they occasionally had a cat nap on the skidoos! At the end of each day, the dogs immediately fell into a deep sleep, only waking long enough to eat their well-earned dinner.

To this day, the missing snowmobiler is still missing. Outside of his snowmobile, no clue to his whereabouts has been found. OVSARDA dog teams are very proud of the work they did in Newfoundland. Under adverse conditions, dogs and handlers worked long and hard, and well. The dogs also took on the role of therapy dog with unexpected ease, providing compassion and comfort to the members of the family and tight-knit community.

A big thank you goes out to St. Anthony's. That small town has an incredibly big heart. They adopted the OVSARDA dog handlers as members of their family, took care of us and kept us safe. Thanks, bye.