The owners of a great Pyrenees named Jasper — who was found after disappearing for three days last summer in B.C.’s West Kootenay — have written a children’s book on the dog’s miraculous journey.
Two weeks ago, Mary and Brent Hummel published the 36-page illustrated book King of the Columbia, Jasper the Great Pyrenees, based on their experience in July searching for their 63-kilogram canine friend after he escaped from their backyard in Castlegar.
After the Hummels posted about Jasper on social media, the big white dog was spotted crossing the fast-moving Columbia River multiple times around Genelle, about 14 kilometres from Castlegar.
The couple was able to locate Jasper thanks to a person who helped narrow the search with the help of a drone.
The Hummels drove to the area and started looking for the animal. Mary Hummel says she and her husband couldn’t believe their good fortune when, in a Hollywood moment, Jasper walked into the middle of the road and ran toward them.
Watch | Jasper and his family together again:
“Special thanks … to the people in Genelle and Castlegar who tirelessly helped in the search for him in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote in the book’s introduction.
The Hummels had moved to Castlegar before COVID in August 2019 from Grand Forks, B.C., where they have run a sheep farm since 2006 but eventually decided life in the city during a pandemic wasn’t for them.
They were back at the farm last month, with four-year-old Jasper performing his duties guarding sheep.
Mary Hummel says the story of Jasper’s reunion with his family and his flock is a tale of hope for families separated by circumstance or a pandemic.
“This whole story is about a dog who guards sheep and goats and lives on a farm, and all of a sudden he ends up in the city. He’s out of his element and he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Mary Hummel said Tuesday to Chris Walker, the host of CBC’s Daybreak South.
“We’ve moved back to the farm. He’s got his own little sheep and goats again that he can guard. And he’s made it full circle back to normal,” she said. “At the end of it, it was miraculous.”
Hummel says the idea to write a children’s book came from her storyteller husband. She typed what he said in 3,500 words. Besides drawing the illustrations, she reduced the length to 1,300 words to make the story more accessible to underage readers.
But shortening the story meant they had to leave out a lot of details about how Jasper was rescued.
“We tried to include all the people that helped us, but there’s one boat in the book, and [in fact] there were maybe 10 boats [looking for Jasper],” Hummel said.
Hummel says the book writing process was therapeutic while she was on a one-year leave from work recovering from back surgery.
She says she hasn’t thought about how her family’s life might have looked if Jasper hadn’t been found. All she knows right now, she says, is she loves her dog.
“There’s a part in the book where … I hold him close and say, ‘You’re the best dog I ever had.’ And it’s just really true.”
Tap the link below to hear Mary Hummel’s interview on Daybreak South:
Daybreak South8:55A new children’s book recalls the real life story of a lost Castlegar dog who swam across the Columbia River