Delsin, who has a date at the Westminster dog show, spent nearly 24 hours on the lam before being reunited with his frantic, joyful owner.
A prized dog bound for the famed Westminster dog show next month in New York City bolted from a Twin Cities yard, prompting a search for the 100-pound pooch that ended with his safe return to his owner nearly 24 hours later.
Delsin, a 9-year-old Bernese mountain dog, fled the fenced-in yard shortly after noon Tuesday in Bloomington. A 12-year-old boy who lives at the home had inadvertently left a gate open. The dog had no collar and is not microchipped.
"He lives with me, trains with me and I show him," said Anne Nichols, who lives near Clear Lake, Wis., and had traveled about 75 miles with Delsin to visit her brother and his family in Bloomington.
"He's my buddy, first and foremost, and happens to be a great show dog," Nichols added. "He sleeps in my bed at night."
Nichols notified police about her missing dog, posted notices on various pet finder websites and distributed posters at three nearby schools.
When the animal control facility opened Wednesday at noon, staffers there were greeted with a flier about Delsin that Nichols had left after closing time Tuesday.
The search came to an end when a woman found Delsin stuck between two fences about six blocks away from the Bloomington home. The woman called animal control, which eventually rounded up the furry fugitive.
Nichols was summoned to retrieve Delsin, who was very hungry but no worse for wear. He isn't neutered, which led her to believe that he "took full advantage of the opportunity" to find companionship.
Nichols said that people she didn't even know drove to Bloomington to help look for her dog. She said her nephew felt terrible about Delsin's disappearance.
Delsin qualified for his first Westminster by winning Best in Show at a competition in Duluth in July, beating out more than 800 entrants.
This will be Nichols' first time having an entry at the world's most prestigious dog show, scheduled for Feb. 13-14 at Madison Square Garden.
"I had Delsin's father and grandmother, and I also have Delsin's son," she said. "I've always wanted to do Westminster and always knew that he was the quality of dog to do Westminster."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482