It had been four years, two months and eight days since Kathryn Morrow had last seen her dog Grif, but she knew the Brussels Griffon in the photo was hers. She was just about to start her early-morning commute when she checked her messages and saw the face she’d never forgotten.
“I’m on my way out the door — my husband was already in the garage — and I open up this text message, and it’s a picture,” Kathryn tells Dogster.
A friend forwarded the shelter photo from the City of Edmonton’s Animal Care and Control Center because the short-haired female looked just like Grif, who had been missing since New Year’s Eve 2013.
“There were also two Facebook messages of the same picture. I couldn’t even speak. I ran out to the garage,” she recalls.
Sobbing, Kathryn handed the phone to her husband, who had never met Grif.
“He was like, ‘that dog’s old, honey. That dog’s like 10 years old. How old would Grif be now?” And I was like, ‘10! Grif would be 10!”
Kathryn spent the next three and half hours waiting for Animal Care and Control to open, thinking about all the events that led to this point.
In 2010, she’d adopted then 3-year-old Grif from Central Animal Services in Lacombe, Alberta. Grif became fast friends with Kathryn’s sister’s dog, JJ, a Pekingese–French Bulldog mix. Kathryn and her sister, Jannah, often walked the dogs on a coupler leash, which was what the duo was wearing the night they ran off through an accidentally unlatched gate.
Kathryn and her sister searched the neighborhood and put up signs up everywhere. A witness came forward to tell Kathryn they’d seen a cab driver pick up JJ and Grif and drive away.
“We filed a police report. We increased our reward. We really did everything we could that we could think of, including increasing our presence on social media,” Kathryn remembers.
Time marched on. In her grief, Kathryn eventually sought out another short-haired female Brussels Griffon, and ended up with 1-year-old Lady and her brother, Finn, a long-haired puppy. She met her husband and got married.
Then came that picture message.
When Animal Care and Control opened on March 9, Kathryn and her husband rushed inside, but the staff didn’t seem excited to meet people claiming to be Grif’s family.
“She’d come in with devastating injuries,” Kathryn explains. “She had an elastic band around her head and neck, and it had become embedded — it had been there for a very long time. She was completely emaciated. She had a brutal infection. She was starving to death. She had not been taken care of at all.”
As Kathryn cried, her husband explained the story, and the couple learned that Grif arrived at the shelter under mysterious circumstances. She was surrendered by people reluctant to give their names or personal information.
Because Grif was not microchipped back in 2012, the shelter could not immediately verify Kathryn’s story.
“As far as they know, I’m just a hysterical woman claiming this is her dog,” she explains.
Luckily, the staff at Guardian Veterinary Center remembered Grif well. She’d had 16 teeth extracted at the clinic.
“One of the techs from Guardian came — on her day off with her big pregnant belly and a toddler on her hip — into Animal Care and Control to identify that Grif was Grif.”
When all the documents were signed, Kathryn finally took custody of Grif, who didn’t recognize Kathryn until they drove away from the shelter.
“About five minutes into the drive, she just stood up and started doing her old booty shake, trying to climb over the center console to get to me,” Kathryn says.
Grif needed surgery to reattach the ear severed by the rubber band, and a Go Fund Me campaign helped her family cover the unexpected cost. Griff is now recovering at home with her new Brussels Griffon siblings, and is eating like a queen. Kathryn says the leftover funds from the Go Fund Me will be added to the reward for JJ’s return. The family is prepared to give $10,000 (most of that out of pocket) to the person who brings JJ home.
“We want to get as much exposure as possible. All we need is the right set of eyes to see JJ.”
Grif is living proof that JJ could still be out there.