Sherpa Jack is home.
The Anatolian shepherd puppy who ran away from home last summer finally was reunited with his family last month.
In between, the pursuit of the dog originally named just plain Jack captivated many on Key Peninsula who followed his story on social media.
“Many in the community fell in love with this dog and his story,” said Monica Gujral Wallace, who chronicled the dog’s time on the lam. “It was almost like a mini soap opera with this dog and all of my videos.”
Sherpa Jack’s time at large began on Independence Day.
While Fourth of July fireworks can be entertaining to humans, many dogs and other pets find them frightening.
Such was the case with Jack.
Two days after joining the home of a young couple, fireworks spooked the dog and he ran, despite the electric collar that was supposed to keep him close to home.
Soon after, Jack’s owners Davy and Crystalann Kienast began putting missing puppy posters online.
Gujral Wallace, an owner of two rescue dogs, saw one of those posts.
She went out and searched for the dog with no luck. It turned out she didn’t need to look for Jack — he found her. Four days after she began searching, she spotted him sitting in her front yard.
Gujral Wallace called out to Jack, yelling his name, but with only two days at his owners’ home, he didn’t recognize that “Jack” was his name. So she chose a different approach.
“I started almost whispering and started calling him ‘Sherpa,’ and he was responding,” Gujral Wallace said. “He was responding to either the sound, the name or my tone. I knew then that I could not be forceful and call him.”
Sherpa was the first name Gujral Wallace thought of.
“A Sherpa is a person who knows every square inch of the roughest, deadliest terrain,” Gujral Wallace said. “They are leaders. I knew this puppy knew every square inch of this Key Peninsula and was a very sweet animal. I starting calling him Sherpa but wanted to respect the owners who wanted to name him Jack, so we coined the name Sherpa Jack.”
Gujral Wallace fed the puppy and gave him tap water. Although Sherpa Jack would not come close enough for Gujral Wallace to touch him, the two began a trusting relationship.
Gujral Wallace began posting on videos of the lost puppy on Facebook. Since she couldn’t find the original missing-puppy posts, she asked if anyone knew the owners.
The Facebook posts blew up, reaching thousands of residents who became invested in the puppy, reaching out to Gujral Wallace each day about Sherpa Jack’s whereabouts.
The outreach finally reached the original owners, and Gujral Wallace invited Crystalann Kienast over to see Sherpa Jack.
“I was hoping when he saw her, it would change everything,” Gujral Wallace said. “That was when I realized he had no idea who she was. Sherpa ran out of my property and wanted no part of us that day.”
Fear began setting in with the Kienasts and Gujral Wallace, as winter weather was descending, and, even worse the dog was starting to outgrow his collar. The collar was made for a small puppy, so choking was a possibility.
False reputation also was a fear of Gujral Wallace. She described Sherpa Jack as a kind, observant and loving dog, but others were labeling him as aggressive and a danger to other animals and children.
“And that was absolutely false,” Gujral Wallace said. “My No. 1 job was to make sure he was not mislabeled.”
Gujral Wallace almost caught Sherpa Jack once when she saw him run into a gated storage facility.
“On foot I ran down the middle of the street as fast as I could to close that gate,” Gujral Wallace said. “My husband is a former Army Ranger, and he said I blew it because I made loud noises in the street and he heard me coming. Sherpa Jack ran out before I could close the gate.”
Gujral Wallace and the Kienasts then created another plan to catch the puppy. The dog’s relationship with Gujral Wallace was closer than anyone else, so she walked next to the owners’ car slowly with Sherpa Jack following closely behind. In the passenger seat of the car was Davy Kienast with a net gun.
“He shot at him, and it only got his rear half. Sherpa ran forward with the net around him, and the net fell off,” Gujral Wallace said.
On March 16 another plan was formed. Sherpa Jack had taken a liking to a dog named Turbo, owned by Rachael Hurst. Sherpa Jack’s route around the city always consisted of visiting Hurst and Turbo.
They created a plan to put a loop around Sherpa Jack’s neck at Hurst’s home, luring him in using Turbo.
That plan worked, and they were able to get Sherpa Jack into a kennel and transferred to the Kienasts’ home.
“I was with my husband in Seattle,” Gujral Wallace said. “The owner called me and said, ‘Monica, I need you to stop by my house on the way home.’ I asked why. He told me he just needed me to stop by. I said, ‘Do you have a visitor?’ and he said, ‘There may be one.’ I broke down in tears. I knew that was the moment, the day.
“I am happy to say I am great friends with the owners now.”
Sherpa Jack was taken to the vet to get his puppy collar off. He also was fixed, got his nails done and received his shots.
After months of Facebook posts, Gujral Wallace was finally able to give the thousands of residents following this story the news they had been waiting to hear.
“Good news. Sherpa Jack is finally home,” she posted.