In January of 2019, AG team member Stephanie Yahr received an alarming call from her neighbor. Her front door was open and one of her dogs was seen walking down the street. Yahr immediately headed home to retrieve her pet, but the process ended up much longer and more complicated than she and her boyfriend had imagined.

While other neighbors and community members had spotted her German Shepherd-Husky mix Gunner, no one was able to coax him close enough to make the rescue. The dog remained at-large and heading deeper into a wooded area as Yahr worked through knee-deep snow to try to catch him. As day turned to dusk and the night grew colder, Yahr was now miles from home on foot. Her caring neighbor called to find her and pick her up to bring her home.

While the search was picked up first thing in the morning, circumstances worsened as the area braced for the Polar Vortex. Gunner stayed elusive for a total of five days, three of which reached temperatures ranging from -30 to -50 degrees. Her supportive neighbors were by the couple’s side throughout the rescue process, and there to help make the final save.

While Gunner had transitioned into survival mode and was unresponsive to Yahr’s voice. His tiredness combined with a trail of pizza and eventually the familiar smell of his favorite bacon treats provided a source of recognition that slowed him enough for the neighbor to open her car door and grab his collar. A huge sigh of relief for everyone involved on the coldest days of the 2019 winter.

Just the right thank you had always been on Yahr’s mind. Aside from her architectural skills, she is a talented artist and had thought of creating pet portraits of her neighbors’ dogs as a sincere thank you for all of their efforts.

The COVID-19 #safeathome challenges presented an opportunity for Yahr to use the extra time to finally complete the art she had been planning for so long. Fellow pet owners stick together, and this extra special thank you includes two, 11-inch by 14-inch oil paintings on canvas board. Portraits of Cookie the herding dog and Louie the mutt are now artistic thank you notes.