Friday, June 6, 2014
Leeloo, an Australian cattle dog, will head back home to Chicago Saturday after being missed in Callaway County by her owner, Art Wilk of Chicago, for more than a week.
Wilk visited Leisure Lake in Calwood with friends over Memorial Day Weekend and brought along his companion, Leeloo. The sound of distant fireworks and gunshots startled the dog that Friday night and she ran into the woods.
Wilk said loud noises often startle Leeloo and she runs off, but she always returns home. This time she didn’t and he’s not sure why. More jolting sounds could have caused her to travel deeper into the woods.
The rest of the weekend was spent searching for the lost dog, but to no avail. Wilk and his friend and business associate, Jim Pinson, headed back to Chicago for work.
“We just felt bad about the fact that she was gone,” Wilk said.
That’s when social media took over. A post about her disappearance on the “Lost Dogs of Missouri” Facebook page received 64 shares.
Callaway County residents posted locations she was seen in the Callaway County Humane Society Facebook page.
County roads 115 and 122. The McDonald’s on U.S. Highway 54. Anderson Field in Seaman Park.
No one could catch her.
As she roamed around the county, Wilk and Pinson traveled back to Callaway County in search of Leeloo. For about 7 hours over multiple days, Wilk said he hung out the car window squeezing a squeeky toy and yelling Leeloo’s name. He drove at the speed of 2 mph on gravel roads.
Wilk and Pinson also posted and handed out about 40 flyers in hopes of finding Leeloo.
Thunder rattled as storms passed through Fulton Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and the noise again spooked Leeloo. She found an open door to a home and found a spot on a bed. Because Leeloo wears dog tags with her owner’s phone number, the homeowner was able to call Wilk and inform him Leeloo was safe and sound.
“I was dying at that point,” Wilk said. “I was ecstatic. I really was.”
Wilk will return to Callaway County for the third time in three weeks to pick up Leeloo from The Dog Barn in Mokane where she is currently being cared for.
“The things you do for a pet are extraordinary,” Wilk said. “It becomes part of the family.”
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