Kathleen Rose didn’t know her neighbor until the night he telephoned her last February — and then she thought Paul McCormick was “a quack.”
Fortunately for Rose and her family dog, McCormick didn’t let that bother him.
Rose and McCormick own acreage on Point Fosdick Drive in Gig Harbor, and McCormick’s family has lived nearby for three generations.
When the Roses’ dog, yellow lab Kellee, went missing, Kathleen took the search everywhere: Facebook posts, fliers scattered in mailboxes and door-to-door searches.
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“We probably had a hundred people looking for Kellee, and on the second day, someone told us they’d seen her hit by a car in front of our property,” Rose said. “A day later, someone said they’d seen her down the road.”
McCormick, a 46-year-old civil engineer who owns a Tacoma architecture firm, knew nothing of all this. He came home one evening, found a flier in his mailbox and remembers thinking, “I hope these people find their dog.”
“I had a dream that night that the dog jumped up on my bed and woke me, showed me she was hurt and lying in a ditch,” McCormick said. “Because I’d seen that flier, when I did wake up, I didn’t think much about it and went to work.”
When he came home that evening, a second flier was in his mailbox. Kellee had now been missing three days.
“I found the second flier saying someone had seen the dog hit by a car, and I thought, ‘Maybe that dream meant something.’ I knew that dog was hurting,” McCormick said.
“I called the number on the flier and told Kathleen what I’d seen in my dream and that I thought she was probably in this one gully.”
The gully, which backs the 10-acre Rose farm, was overgrown with berry bushes and was several hundred feet deep. McCormick hadn’t been down there since he was 12, when he and a friend went exploring.
“I found a dog skeleton down there,” McCormick said. “There was a little creek running down there, but you couldn’t walk it, even 35 years ago. You had to crawl through most of it.”
Rose appreciated the call but thought a man with a vision was probably not much help.
“I’ve had other dreams, since my teens, but they’re like observations, intuition, and they’re not always right,” McCormick said.
“I consider that part of life, and if you ignore it, it can’t help you. The more I heard about this dog, the more I thought she was in that gully. And if she was, no one was going down there unless I did.”
On the fourth day the 9-year-old lab had been missing, McCormick stayed home from work. He dressed in hiking boots and long sleeves, knowing what he was facing.
“I worked my way along that gully until I found a place I thought a dog could have gone down,” McCormick said. “And I went down.”
Later that morning, Rose was checking the backyards of homes bordering one side of the gully.
“I looked down there about 200 to 250 feet and there was this crazy Paul guy,” Rose said. “I yelled to him. I couldn’t believe it.”
McCormick kept going, and thought he heard a whimper.
“I turned and saw the dog lying there, its head lifted, looking at me,” he said. “I actually wondered for a second if I were dreaming again. It took me another 15 minutes to reach her. I put my coat over her and called Kathleen.
“I said, ‘I found her, she’s alive,’ and she started crying. I texted her a photo and said I was going to need help getting her up the side of the gully.”
Rose got on her phone, and within 20 minutes, she and eight volunteers were working their way to McCormick and Kellee. One, a retired firefighter, brought sheets to use to carry the dog.
“Paul was scratched head to toe,” Rose said. “We got Kellee up, and she spent three days in the hospital. She had broken ribs, punctured lungs, but she made it and came home.”
Today, the McCormicks and Roses are considerably friendlier. McCormick comes by each Wednesday to visit Kellee and pick up fresh eggs from Kathleen.
“Kellee loves him,” Rose said. “She has since the day he found her.”