Bob the dog captivated many in Oxford as search teams hunted for the Great Pyrenees all through the winter and spring

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It’s a tale fit for a movie.

A film that would fascinate dog lovers, anyway.

Local residents would recognize the star of the show.

Bob the dog captivated an entire Oxford community – and dozens outside the county – all through the winter and spring, as the Great Pyrenees was on the run for nearly six months.

A search began in earnest and even inspired a Facebook page. Many residents posted sightings on social media.

Kathryn Burtenshaw, who runs KW Ground Search and Rescue, got involved with the hunt for Bob in February.

She had fostered one of Bob’s brothers and recognized the same features on Bob.

“It became personal for me,” she said.

Life hadn’t been kind to two-year-old Bob, even before he ran away.

“There was a farm in Woodstock that had over 19 Pyrs in fairly rough conditions, is the nicest way to put it. I knew that Bob was from that farm,” Burtenshaw said.

It was just a few weeks after Bob was rehomed with a new family in Simcoe that he ran away. That was back in January.

“He was taken to a babysitter in town (in Norwich), and he got out. He bolted when they opened the door,” said Debbie Chivers, a Norwich resident and part of the team that helped bring Bob back to safety.

And spending those long winter months on the run were not kind to Bob.

Search teams eventually discovered he had been shot in the leg.

No one is sure exactly what happened. Some speculate it was a farmer, reacting to Bob stealing livestock. Others say it was a misguided attempt to slow Bob down so that he could be caught.

There were many players involved in the search, and despite his injury, Bob was outwitting and outlasting them all.

Searchers decided to try a new technique – a live trap – beginning at a location where Bob had been spotted, Chivers said.

“We monitored that live trap for two weeks at this one man’s house, to no avail. The raccoons were getting pretty fat by the end of those two weeks,” she said with a chuckle.

Thanks to sightings and a bit of mapping expertise, search teams discovered that Bob had taken up residence at the site of the former Co-op in Norwich, Burtenshaw said.

“It was perfect for Bob, because he remained hidden. He would sleep underneath the weigh scales, which you can’t see from the road,” she added.

Once the property owner gave permission, they set the trap up at that site. The live trap is essentially a fenced-in dog run, with a scent trail to lead the dogs inside. When they go to eat the bait, a pin is released and the door to the trap swings shut.

But Bob wasn’t biting – literally.

“He would go in and he would sniff the ground, but he wouldn’t touch the bait. We put raw chicken, liver, tripe, garlic bread. You name it, we tried it,” said Chivers, who checked the trap several times a day.

Trail cams set up around the trap showed the searchers that they were on the right track.

So Chivers’ husband rigged up a “trip” with fishing line, a washer, and paperclips. Bob didn’t see the invisible fishing line strung across the trap, so when he went to poke around, the door was finally closed.

It was a long search, but a happy ending.

“There was a lot of crying and screaming on our end – I can’t believe the trip line worked,” Burtenshaw said, adding that they’re using the same technique in other locations.

Kim Campbell, who lives just outside Ostrander, became Bob’s first foster mom after he was rescued earlier this month.

“I was following since day one, and I thought if he’s caught, I would take him in a heartbeat,” Campbell said. “You look at his face and your heart just melts.”

She added that Bob’s mobility was not bad at all considering his injury.

“He almost used that leg as a stilt. He couldn’t put weight on it…but I think he was so used to having to bear the pain, using it the last three months,” Campbell said. “He was just amazing.”

Bob was then sent to the Great Pyrenees Club of Southern Ontario, where he was connected with a longer-term foster home and a veterinarian. The rescuers are now hoping to help raise enough money for Bob’s ACL reconstruction surgery, which will likely run $5,000.

Chivers said she misses Bob all the time.

“It’s really hard. But I know he’s off the road and he’s safe,” she said with emotion.

Chivers called Bob “a really special boy."

“I’ve never met such a loving dog in my entire life. When he was (caught)…I reached my hand inside the cage and I started scratching his ear. He leaned right into the fence and wanted more – just that human contact.”

Bob has a long road ahead of him, but the rescuers are ecstatic that he’ll finally have a loving home.

“He’s only two,” Burtenshaw said. “He’s now going to be able to live the life that a dog should.”