James Poulson/The Daily Sitka Sentinel via AP
SITKA, Alaska — An Alaskan family had given up hope of finding their blind, elderly golden retriever who ran away from their home three weeks ago, but a construction crew found Lulu in salmonberry bushes after initially mistaking her for a bear.
Lulu was barely alive after being found on Tuesday, but she is being nursed back to health and is back home with her family. reported the Daily Sitka Sentinel.
“She means everything,” said owner Ted Kubacki. “I have five daughters and they range in age from 4 to 13, so they’ve spent every day of their life with this dog.”
The Kubacki family searched for weeks after Lulu defected on June 18.
“She’s just so helpless, and you sort of imagined that because she can’t see, she can’t really get very far,” he said.
It didn’t help when the family was the subject of a horrible joke when someone claimed to have found Lulu a few days after the search.
“We’d put the kids to bed and we’d get a text like, ‘We found your dog,’ or ‘I’ve found your dog,’ and we were like, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing,'” he said. “Then the person texted me, ‘Just kidding.’ That happened, yes, it was all part of that horrible story.”
After weeks of searching, the family had given up hope.
How Lulu was found
But then this week a construction crew spotted Lulu lying in the undergrowth by a road not far from the Kubacki home. She was about 15 feet (4.57 meters) down an embankment and at first the crew thought it was a bear.
“They took a closer look and realized it was a dog, and they got her out of there,” Kubacki said.
All the sadness melted away when he got the call that Lulu had been found.
“I called my wife from work and she just screamed … She just starts screaming, then she screams at the kids. And I just hear them screaming like crazy,” Kubacki said.
Although Lulu was alive, she was in bad shape. The 80-pound (36.29 kilogram) dog had lost 23 pounds (10.43 kilograms) since her loss; she was dehydrated, dirty and her fur matted.
“I was just expecting to come back and say, ‘Hey, here’s my dog.’ She’ll jump up and wag her tail and kiss my face and she couldn’t even lift her head,” he said. “She’d been through the mangle.”
Lulu’s condition has improved significantly with medical care, food, and rest.
“Slowly but surely, she started eating and was able to raise her head somehow,” Kubacki said. “But then yesterday she leaned on her front paws on her own and snuggled up to me and gave me a kiss and wagged her tail and it was just so amazing.”
A day later she was able to stand on her own.
Kubacki, a grocery store clerk and sole breadwinner for his family of seven, then worried about the vet’s bill.
Those fears were unfounded, as Sitka residents have donated hundreds of dollars to help cover Lulu’s recovery bills.
“We have our family member at home,” Kubacki said.