I have met many people since my arrival in Boulder City. Each has shared something special with me, but none of their tales has been as poignant as the one I heard Monday. And it was told to me without a single spoken word.
There was, however, lots of tail wagging.
It is the story of Buckley, a 3½-year-old border collie-Shetland sheepdog mix. She went missing Christmas Day and was reunited with her family Sunday morning. She had been gone for 54 days.
Although Buckley didn’t say a thing, her family, Amy and Mark Cate, were bubbling over with news of their happy reunion when they stopped by the office.
“The whole experience was surreal, exhilarating and a frightful experience,” Amy said.
Their ordeal began ordinarily enough. Mark and the couple’s 16-year-old son, Dylan Simmons, went out to the old BMX track near the city’s landfill to ride their quads. They brought along their pets, Buckley and Journey, who have been with the family since shortly after the dogs were born in the same litter.
According to Mark, they must have seen a rabbit because the dogs suddenly made a beeline toward the river and disappeared. They searched for hours without any luck.
About 48 hours later they received a call from Ann Inabnitt, the city’s animal control officer, who said they had one of the dogs.
Although relieved, the Cates said they were surprised since the sisters were inseparable.
From what they have been able to piece together from various accounts, the dogs were wandering near the senior center.
A concerned resident called to them. Journey came to the man, but Buckley fled.
Still, the Cates didn’t give up hope. They continued to search for their pet and even encountered the police in their quest. After someone told them Buckley had been spotted near where she disappeared, Mark went out one night, set an illegal fire and began frying bacon in hopes that the aroma would entice the hungry dog to come around. It didn’t.
They said they spent 80 hours searching the area to no avail. They had practically given up hope and assumed that Buckley had made it into town and someone had adopted her because she was such a good dog.
Then, on Feb. 13, a friend called the Cates saying a dog that looked like Buckley had been spotted near the landfill. They had seen a picture of her on Facebook.
Using the power of social media, they were able to create a timetable of where Buckley had been.
Again, relying on Facebook, they created a search party that would meet before sunrise Sunday to see if they could catch Buckley.
About 10 people, strangers to the Cates, showed up to help. Once she was spotted, the group worked as one to close in on Buckley while being careful not to frighten her.
When Amy called her name, Buckley ran in the opposite direction. She disappeared for what seemed like an eternity, but was spotted again.
At that point, they realized only Journey would be able to get Buckley to come home. As everyone else stood still, Mark physically turned Journey’s head so she could see her sister. When Journey whimpered, Buckley laid down. Slowly they approached, with Journey in the lead. At the same time, Buckley cautiously approached. Eventually, Mark was able to put his arms around Buckley.
Once home, it was like she had never left.
For Mark and Amy, and their sons, Dylan, Austin and Brayden Simmons, it is the help they received from the people of Boulder City that makes Buckley’s return more special and meaningful.
As residents of Henderson, the Cates said they always had an affinity for the city, but now they have a new respect for its citizens.
The experience has created a special bond between the Cates and those who gave so freely of their time to help them find their pet. They plan to host a “Buckley Barbecue” to thank them for their efforts.
“Thank you seems like such a meek term,” Mark said, “but no one expects anything else.”