The thought of a pet going missing is terrifying for any owner. When the pet is disabled in some way, that fear is only compounded, which was the case for the Kubacki family in Sitka, Alaska. The family had given up hope of finding their Golden Retriever, Lulu, after she'd wandered away from home three weeks earlier. They couldn't help but picture worst-case scenarios, as the elderly Lulu is blind and virtually defenseless against any obstacle or wild animal she might come across. “She's just so helpless,” Lulu’s human, Ted Kubacki, told Daily Sitka Sentinel. “And you kind of imagined that she can't get real far because she can't see.”
When they realized she was missing, the family immediately began a search for Lulu—losing her was like losing a member of the family. “She means everything,” says Kubacki. “I have five daughters and they're four to 13 years old, so they've spent every day of their life with that dog.” The experience was made even worse when someone played a cruel joke on them a few days into the search. As the Kubackis were putting their kids to bed, they received a text saying their dog had been found. “We're like, ‘Oh my god, this is incredible,'” Kubacki recalls. “Then the person texted me, ‘Just kidding.' This happened, yeah, that was all part of this terrible story.”
Three weeks after she'd disappeared, Lulu was finally found by a construction crew, who first mistook her for a bear. They spotted her lying in some salmonberry bushes, about 15 feet down an embankment not far from the Kubacki's home. Once they got a closer look and realized it was a dog, they got her out of there.
When the family got the call that Lulu had been found, they couldn't contain their relief and excitement. “I called my wife from work and it was just screaming,” Kubacki says. “She just starts yelling, then she yells to the kids. And I just hear them screaming like crazy.”
The elderly dog was barely alive when she was rescued. Normally 80 pounds, she had dropped to just 23 pounds, and was severely dehydrated. She was thin, dirty, and her fur was matted—a tough sight for her loving owners. Kubacki admits that he “expected to come back and be like, ‘Hey, here's my dog.' She's going to jump up and wag her tail and kiss my face.'” Instead, Lulu couldn't even lift her head. “She'd been through the wringer.” Fortunately, with medical care, food, rest, and lots of love from her family, Lulu is recovering from her ordeal. “Slowly but surely she started eating and she was kind of able to pick her head up,” says Kubacki. “But then yesterday, she propped herself up on her front paws by herself, like nestled into me and gave me a kiss and wagged her tail and it was just so great.” The next day, the pup was able to stand on her own.
The recovery of their dog was that much sweeter thanks to the overwhelming community support for the Kubacki family. As a grocery store employee and the sole provider for his family of seven, Kubacki worried about the veterinary bill. Luckily, fellow Sitka residents stepped up. They donated hundreds of dollars to cover the cost, so that all the family had to focus on was getting their dog well again. Says a grateful Kubacki: “We have our family member back home.”
The Kubacki family’s beloved blind, elderly Golden Retriever went missing for three weeks; but, she was luckily found and they all reunited.