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Rescue groups reunite senior dog and owner

Shortly after she moved from Nevada to Bismarck in June, Anita Newgard found she was missing something important.

Confused by her new surroundings, Heidi, Newgard’s 15-year-old one-eyed border collie mix, had wandered off into the woods and gotten lost on June 13.

“She only has one eye, and is hard of hearing, so she took off trying to find out where home was, and we couldn’t find her,” Newgard said.

She and her husband Tim searched diligently for their dog, but given the dog’s age, the forested terrain and the nearby river, Newgard didn’t have much hope that she’d find her beloved pet.

Meanwhile, Heidi, whose fur has begun to go white with age, had been picked up and brought to the Bismarck-Mandan Impound, where unclaimed pets typically become available for adoption after four days. After another 10 days, volunteers look for pet placement with rescue groups.

Newgard had called the local Central Dakota Humane Society to see if someone had found Heidi, but she hadn’t called the pound to check there.

“In Nevada, the humane society and the dog pound kind of co-exist together, so I’d assumed that they worked together that way,” Newgard explained.

While Heidi wasn’t microchipped, she did have a collar — but the information on it was for Newgard’s Nevada home, so calling the phone number didn’t help the pound find Heidi’s owners.

Then the time Heidi was allowed to stay at the Bismarck-Mandan Pound ran out, and a volunteer sought out a rescue organization that could take Heidi so that she wouldn’t be put to sleep.

It wasn’t going to be easy to find someone willing to adopt, or even foster, a large 15-year-old dog.

“It’s nearly impossible,” said Kaye John, co-founder of Prairie Paws Rescue in Jamestown. “It’s very difficult.”

There weren’t any takers for Heidi at first, and finally John stepped forward and agreed to foster the dog at her house — indefinitely, if necessary.

“There was just something about her, and I just couldn’t get her out of my mind,” John said.

John named the dog Hope and brought her home.

“As old as she was, she had little spurts where she would have lots of energy,” John said. “… she was pretty happy.”

Then a volunteer with the pound saw an ad from Central Dakota Humane Society about a one-eyed black dog with a graying muzzle and recognized the description.

By working together, the pound, humane society and Prairie Paws managed to get Heidi back to her family on June 28.

“When I looked over and saw it was her when I pulled up, I just yelled for her and she tugged on the leash right away,” Newgard said.

Now Heidi is back home and doing well. She has a new collar on that includes her new address in Bismarck.

John said the situation showed how important it is to have current information on pet tags, just in case.

Another option for easy pet identification is microchipping, or implanting a tiny chip under a pet’s skin that contains information about the pet as well as contact information for the owner. Typically, John said, it costs between $25 and $50.

“She’s back here doing good,” said Newgard. “It was weird, all in itself, but I’m glad she’s back. It’s all working out good.”

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by email at