An Edmonton man, dubbed “St. Nick,” recently helped return a dog to North Pole, Alaska, making Christmas wishes come true for four children.
On Nov. 9, Yukon the dog was heading home to North Pole with owner Jeff Hayes and his brother-in-law when they stopped for a break north of Fort St. John, B.C.
Yukon managed to escape from his collar and ran into the woods. “We looked for a couple of hours and followed his tracks but never saw him again,” Jeff Hayes said via phone from North Pole, Alaska on Monday. “He wasn’t coming when he was called. And we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s just gone. There’s nothing we can do about it.’
“I left a note there at the Mile 80 rest stop (near Fort St. John). I didn’t have cell service at the time, but people started calling my wife [in North Pole] that evening to say they saw the dog and he looks healthy but he won’t come to anybody,” Hayes said.
“He’s a rescue dog that we adopted and he’s always been very shy about trusting people.”
Yukon belongs to a family of four young kids between the ages of one and 10. The eight-year-old wrote a letter to Santa asking for his dog back and it was posted online.
“That tugged on my heart strings. I said, ‘I need to go out and do what I can to help’,” Latoya Jones, who lives in Fort St. John, said via Skype on Monday.
Residents of Fort St. John made it their mission to reunite Yukon with his family for the Christmas season. They took to social media to post sightings of the dog.
“This story is so popular in Fort St. John,” Jones said. “Even people at my work are like, ‘Oh, you were involved with Yukon’s rescue.’ It took a village – like, it seriously took a village with this dog. People were out there feeding him.”
Finally, after being on the run and hiding for a week, Yukon was caught. However, the family still had to figure out how to bring him home.
“I thought, ‘This is miraculous, at least we know he’s healthy and he’s safe,’” Hayes said. “But I didn’t know how the heck we were going to get our dog. It’s a four-day drive for me each way. And I just started a new job [with the U.S. Army] and I thought, ‘There’s no way I can take that much time off work.’”
That’s when volunteers in Fort St. John contacted trucking companies to find Yukon a ride home.
Nick Stoneburgh, an Edmonton truck driver with Capital Transport, was contacted to help.
“It was kind of funny. Here’s St. Nick picking up a Christmas present for the kids,” Stoneburgh said. “How can you turn down kids at Christmas?”
“And he looks like St. Nick. It’s so funny,” Hayes said.
Stoneburgh picked Yukon up in Fort St. John and met Hayes on Nov. 30 in Beaver Creek, Yukon.
“I can’t even believe he’s back in our house right now,” Hayes said. “But the kids are so ecstatic and we were saying our prayers every night.
“Holy cow. What a Christmas story, it’s unbelievable. Everybody I talk to, nobody can believe this happened the way that it did.”