Communities back effort to bring lost dog home
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – The Bouschart family has one wish this holiday season – to get Toby home.
Toby is one of the Bouschart family dogs. He is a 5-year-old black and white Australian cattle dog mix. Toby has been missing since Dec. 1.
Kim Bouschart and Toby were entering a dog friendly establishment in Suamico when Toby got spooked. He ran into the parking lot where he was hit by a truck twice, but got up and ran off.
That was the last time Kim saw Toby.
Kim’s daughter Ali created a Facebook page Get Toby Home, and in a short time the page has recruited nearly 2,500 followers all looking for Toby.
“We have reached out to the communities for their help and this has just gone viral,” Kim said. “The saddest thing is yes, we lost our dog, but this has brought our community so together. Everybody is on Toby’s bandwagon to get this little dog home. I just feel there’s a bigger message with what’s happening in the world all the negativity and people just want a good ending, something to make them feel good in life with all this heartache.”
To say December has been emotional for the Bouscharts would be an understatement.
“It’s a living hell, it’s a nightmare, but it’s the people who get me through,” Kim said. “It’s the story of helping a family who is in a crisis situation. Toby is a member of our family and it’s a whole different world when somebody has animals, when they have either gone through this or lost their fur babies. We just want to see Toby come home.”
Kim posts two updates everyday on the page asking for people to be on the lookout. People are also encouraged to post any sightings online so the Bouscharts can follow up.
She can also be reached at 920-639-1189.
Kim has been working with Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and animal clinics across the state.
The important thing to remember is if you see Toby, do not approach him, just report the sighting.
“Toby is in a flight mode, a survival mode, he may not even recognize me,” Kim said. “We don’t want to scare Toby, we want to lure him in. Lost Dogs of Wisconsin has a process, a 99 percent success rate of getting dogs back if we follow those procedures.”
People have responded, there have been numerous sightings, but no confirmation of Toby.
One such sighting nearly broke Kim’s heart.
Shortly after Winter Storm Abigal some employees at the NEW Zoo and Adventure Park were cross country skiing on a local horse trail.
They sighted a black dog in the woods and got in touch with Kim.
“I prayed the entire way and as soon as I got over the hill I knew it wasn’t Toby. It was a black lab and it was a blind dog that lost its way,” Kim said holding back tears. “With her body she would not have made it through the night. It wasn’t Toby, but it gave me the satisfaction of helping another family get their dog home.”
Countless people have been on the lookout. They have left food out and sleeping bags, taken a longer route home. A tracking dog has gone out and deer cameras have been set up. A drone has even been deployed, but to no success.
“They know the pain and an animal is a member of your family and those people, we call them our fur family,” Kim said. “We gained a whole lot of friendships, we cried together, we shared a lot of suggestions. People have gotten up in the middle of the night and looked for him.”
In the case of the Suamico Fire Department, those people are just doing their jobs.
Lt. Scott Legois, of the Suamico Fire Department has been out doing fire inspections.
So he has kept an eye in the woods looking for Toby, while conducting his normal business.
When there is a sighting nearby the station and members have time he has sent them out to confirm.
“That goes back to the beginning of why we are here,” said Legois, a firefighter with his own dog, BB a yorkie. “If you look at the big picture, we’re here to help the village, here to help the people of the village, this is what we do. We run for all different kinds of reasons. If someone thinks they have a problem we go.”
If Toby makes it home Kim has plans, but the first thing will be getting him the medical attention he needs.
“There’s going to be a lot of quiet nights and rehab to get him to trust, because right now Toby’s biggest enemy is trust,” she said.
But after the trust, which will come back, Kim wants to say thanks to all of those who have helped.
“Once Toby is ready, on Toby’s terms, we are going to have the biggest fur party for all of our fur friends, because that’s what they said ‘we can’t wait to meet Toby,’” Kim said. “They’re ready for a 1,000 licks on the face from Toby. That’s our plan but that may not happen for a very long time based on Toby’s needs, but everybody cannot wait to meet Toby.”