'Ice Dogs' Heidi and King home safe after 5-day adventure on ice floe
2 dogs floated about 80 km from Belledune to Janeville
If dogs could talk, Heidi and King would have a story to tell.
The Ice Dogs, as they are known in northern New Brunswick, could tell a tale of their five-day adventure sailing on an ice floe in Chaleur Bay.
Heidi, a seven-month-old German shepherd, and King, an 18-month-old small mixed breed, got caught on the ice Tuesday in Belledune. They came ashore in Janeville Saturday after an estimated 80-kilometre trip.
They are home safe with their owner, Kevin Doyle, who still can't believe they are alive.
"They're just laying on the same blanket hanging out just like everything's normal to them," said Doyle when reached Sunday.
The dogs got off the ice floe and made their way to Evan and Juanita Scott's home. That's where Juanita Scott found them and called Shania Carrier, who is Doyle's neighbour in Belledune.
Doyle believes the two dogs were chasing a fox that led them onto the ice behind his home. He began looking for them and soon found out they were stranded.
"I never expected they'd be out on the ice floe," Doyle said.
Volunteer fire departments in Belledune and Charlo tried to reach the dogs by boat but were unsuccessful.
Carrier said her father, fisherman Norman Carrier, lent two survival suits to Nelson Carrier and Gerry Guitard and they went out in kayaks. The men managed to reach the dogs but the dogs were scared and wouldn't go with them.
"The dogs just kept running back and forth, running from them," said Shania Carrier.
By this time it was too dark and the RCMP asked them to call off the rescue attempt.
But a determined Carrier, herself a dog owner, along with about 10 other people were back on the shoreline the next morning determined to find the dogs.
An ice floe was spotted and volunteers went out once again in kayaks, but there were no dogs to be found.
"We did continue searching [for] the next couple of days on snowshoes, people were going out on skidoos checking for fresh tracks," Carrier said.
She said volunteers from other communities joined the search and were determined to find any sign to "show that they were alive and well."
Searches continued each day.
"We put out food, we put out stuff with their smells on it to pick up in case they were on the shoreline," Carrier said.
"I just knew I couldn't give up on those dogs because my heart was telling me those dogs were out there."
Carrier fielded a number of calls from people who thought they had spotted or found the dogs.
"We got many calls and many heartbreaks throughout the five days that they were missing."
Doyle was also getting calls from people about possible sightings.
But when Carrier got a call from Juanita Scott telling her she had found the dogs in her driveway, she jumped in her car and drove there.
"Just the loving voice that she had and the reassuring voice that she had, I burst out into tears."
It didn't take long to confirm "100 per cent it was Heidi and King," Carrier said.
Carrier and Doyle both believe Heidi used her mothering instinct to protect and keep King warm on the ice, especially during a snowfall Wednesday and cold temperatures at night.
"Even in the car she was laid on top of him protecting him," said Carrier.
More tears were shed on the drive to Belledune by Carrier, and when she arrived at Doyle's house.
"It was basically the most heartwarming come-home video that I've ever filmed or been part of," said Carrier. "People kept asking me if they were my dogs. They weren't my dogs and I didn't even know the dogs' owner until we met him on Tuesday night."
Doyle was waiting with Carrier's family when she arrived with the dogs.
"King's brother, Rusty, he was even waiting in the driveway and was so excited to see his siblings back. It just warms my heart that I was able to bring those two dogs back to their brother," said Carrier.
While he's not on social media, Doyle is grateful to Carrier and everyone who helped search for the dogs. When he heard that they were found, he was amazed..
"I don't think my heart could get any bigger and especially for her and her parents, Darlene and Norman, nobody gave up."
Doyle said at times he did give up hope the dogs would be found but kept being reassured by his friends that they would be found.
"It's amazing how good people are."
While Heidi and King are home and seem no worse for wear, Doyle's not sure it'll be their last adventure.
"There's a couple dens of foxes and they don't like other animals around."
For now, the pair are resting up and taking in all the extra attention.