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Tired but safe: Puppy found 17 days after fleeing New Year’s fireworks

Terttu was in surprisingly good condition after two and a half weeks on the run.

Koiranpentu lattialla.
Terttu lost weight and had a slight fever but otherwise seems fine, say her owners. Image: Jarno Kotanen

The Kotanen family of Imatra, eastern Finland, suffered a shock on New Year’s night when their three-month old puppy Terttu ran away. Terrified by her first experience with fireworks, the little collie seemed to vanish without a trace from the Teppanala neighbourhood.

Hundreds of people tried to help find Terttu after her story spread on social media, but to no avail.

As the dog was so young and the last possible sighting of her was on 2 January, the Kotanens began to lose hope, especially since the area is only a few kilometres from the Russian border.

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Ilmoitus kadonneesta koirasta Facebookissa.
Screengrab from Facebook Image: Kuvakaappaus Facebookista

Then on Friday, the father, Jarno Kotanen, was stunned by a message on his phone.

“It was an unbelievable feeling when suddenly this picture popped up on my phone with someone asking ‘is this your my dog?’”, he told Yle on Saturday.

A man in the village of Pelkola, a few kilometres away, had been out with his dog when the puppy followed them home.

“From his window, the man saw the little dog come out of the edge of the forest and sit down in his yard. He approached her slowly, and Terttu wasn’t scared,” says Kotanen.

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koiranpentu nukkuu viltillä
The pup "slept like a log" the first night, says Kotanen. Image: Jarno Kotanen

The Finnish Search Dog Association was involved in the search at first, but dropped out of the effort because its methods are not compatible with large numbers of people also searching for a lost pet.

According to the group’s spokesperson, Päivi Rosqvist, involving too many people can make it harder to find a missing dog, although she understands it is done with the best intentions.

“It can be a threatening situation, and the runaway may feel like it’s being hunted,” she explains.

Many people tramping around the woods can also scatter the scents that a search dog relies on as it tries to track down the fugitive.

“The fact that we didn’t keep searching further in the direction of Pelkola was probably a stroke of luck, because Terttu could remain in that area,” says Kotanen. I think that’s why she didn’t cross the border into Russia” – which was only about 2km away.

Terttu had lost some weight, was exhausted and had a slight fever. However a vet checkup found nothing more serious than that.

“Terttu slept like a log the first night and has eaten a lot. When she’s awake, she’s been playing with a little toy and talking to us a bit,” says Kotanen.

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