Lilly’s best friends
Spaniard’s Bay fatherson duo team up with German shepherd to help find missing dog
Clarence Wilson and his 17-month-old German shepherd Wilma have had a hand in a few fortunate missions finding lost dogs.
Their most recent adventure came earlier this month in Conception Bay South. On New Year’s Day, Jo-Lynn Butt’s young Sheltie Lilly escaped through a fence as the town’s fireworks were being set off.
Jo-Lynn shared an emotional video on social media of herself crying as she searched for Lilly in Kelligrews. A photo of Lilly was shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter.
Clarence and Wilma had helped track down two dogs previously. He has three dogs in all (the other two are former racing greyhounds Mia and Crana), and they’re trained to bring each other back home.
“(Wilma) has tracked my son before,” explained Clarence, who lives in Spaniard’s Bay. “I’ve had him go in the woods. We were in the woods before just in for a walk, and she’s come across moose and tracked moose right on to where you can see them.“
Word of mouth got him involved in the search for Lilly but, due to his work commitments, he couldn’t get involved immediately. He asked Jo-Lynn to get a group together for Sunday, Jan. 8.
Lilly was last spotted Jan. 2 but, as luck would have it, a new sighting was reported the morning of Jan. 8. Clarence, his son Noah — who attends university in St. John’s — and Wilma were already en route when Lilly was spotted and arrived in C.B.S. shortly after 8 a.m.
They followed Lilly, and then realized she had moved on to a different street. They tracked her down again and, with so many people around, Clarence advised people to control their emotions, as there was a strong likelihood Lilly would take off again.
That’s just what she did. Lilly scooted under a fence near the fuel tanks in Long Pond.
Clarence, Noah and Wilma kept trying.
“Wilma cut her off, because (Lilly) was going to go around me, because whatever I put (Wilma) on — it’s the herding instinct — she’ll keep it from passing and keep it in a certain area,” said Clarence.
When Lilly attempted to move around a building, Wilma caught up with her and managed to get in front of the lost dog.
Lilly turned, managed to get past Noah and under the fence again.
With people coming towards the fence, Lilly turned again, with Clarence and his crew waiting for her.
The lost dog went for a run around one of the tanks, and when she did, another man (Ed) helping with the search met Lilly on the other side.
“He just snatched her up, brought her down the hill, and then he passed her under the fence to me.”
At this point, Clarence made sure Wilma got to smell Lilly and understand she did a good job.
“She associates good with what she has done, with catching the animal,” he said.
Once Jo-Lynn arrived, Clarence passed the dog to her and told her to hold on tight.
“At first, Lilly didn’t know who (Jo-Lynn) was. I’d say it took about 30-40 seconds before you could see her start to make the association. Because the dog was just terrified after being gone for a week . . . She had a pretty good run, and she was in really good shape too.” Overall, Clarence felt good about the experience. “It’s nice to help people out, and I love doing that stuff anyway. As you can tell, the dogs are spoiled!”
It’s nice to help people out, and I love doing that stuff anyway. As you can tell, the dogs are spoiled!
Left: Clarence Wilson with his 17-month-old German shepherd Wilma.
Clarence Wilson, far right, passes Lilly to her excited owner, Jo-Lynn Butt. Lilly was missing for seven days.