Keno the four-year-old husky-shepherd mix went missing in late January.

By Hilary Braaksma
Updated February 17, 2021
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Credit: Courtesy of Jesse Mcmaster

Keno, a four-year-old husky-shepherd mix who went missing on Vancouver Island in late January is now finally back home with his owner, Jesse McMaster, of Duncan, British Columbia. The missing pooch was found after being lost for nearly two weeks near Mount Prevost, a mountain in British Columbia's Cowichan Valley.

Local reports say the dog became excited after seeing an elk, and quickly ran off. "Me and Keno were out for a hike on the 26th of January and I didn't see the elk before he did, and he took off," McMaster told Daily Paws. "I didn't have good enough hold on the leash and he got out of my hands, and ran after him as fast as he could up the hill. I ran up the mountainside, trying to catch him, but I definitely was not able to."

McMaster's devotion to his dog led him to take time off work and sleep in his car so he could stay in the location and continue searching. "I spent four or five days up on Mount Provost, camping in my Jeep, just looking and waiting. Cooking bacon, hoping he would come out," he said.

With no luck on his own, a search was launched, a monetary reward was offered, and a local volunteer group Reuniting Owners with Animals Missing (ROAM) joined in the effort to find Keno. Reports of a dog matching Keno's description 100 kilometers away from the spot he'd run off from led McMaster to sleep in a donated camper nearby in hopes of spotting the pup. A helicopter flyover was even planned, though it was ultimately cancelled due to heavy snowfall.

Multiple reports sighting a missing dog dragging a leash came in, but each time the trail seemed to run cold. It was a tough few weeks for McMaster, who searched tirelessly for his dog, and pleaded with locals to keep watch for signs of his beloved pooch. Finally, a break came in the search for the missing dog last week: somebody working on a nearby farm spotted and photographed Keno, and McMaster headed to the location to spend the night searching again.

"I jumped out of my house, grabbed all of the stuff I needed to camp on Mount Provost again and went up there and cooked bacon all night by myself," he said in his Daily Paws interview.

After traveling back down the mountain to get cell service, McMaster got the call he had been waiting for around 7 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 11—somebody had found and caught his beloved Keno. The hero was a man named Justin McKinlay, who had heard about the missing dog and took a drive through the area before work.

On his early morning drive, McKinlay spotted Keno and stopped to open his door—and the missing dog eagerly jumped in. The good samaritan gave a call to the ROAM volunteers who helped search for missing dogs locally, and word finally made it back to Keno's owner, McMaster. Judy Bobke, one of the missing animal search volunteers from ROAM, uploaded a heartwarming video of the dog and owner reunion to Facebook.

"OK, now we're all ugly crying," Bobke can be heard saying on the video.

The emotional video was accompanied by a heartfelt caption thanking McKinlay for his work finding Keno. The post also said that McKinlay had rejected the $1,000 reward, instead offering to pay it forward to McMaster, who had been forced to miss work during his search efforts.

We are so happy Jesse and Keno were finally reunited after spending a heartbreaking 15 days apart. For more information on how to help safely capture a lost or missing pet, check out our do's and don'ts of catching a scared dog.