After a late-night car race, Carol and Verne King returned to their dog-friendly hotel in Kalispell, Montana, and made a devastating discovery.
Their 7-year-old Border Collie, Katie, was no longer in the room. She had apparently managed to unlock the door, possibly frightened by a thunderstorm that swept through the area. At the front desk, an employee said she saw an anxious dog sneak out the front door hours before.
The kings were amazed. In a small town of 23,000 people clinging to the sprawling wasteland near Glacier National Park, surrounded by forests and fields, where would they start looking?
"Every night he went to bed, he was numb," said Mr King. "Is it hot? Is she eating today? That tore us apart. "
" As a scene of crime "
After the initial discovery, kings spend the night frantically searching for nearby neighborhoods where alfalfa farms and new shopping centers collide in the north
They were out until about 4 o'clock in the morning, the kings said, but saw no sign of the dog. The receptionist asked them to send some pictures and together they started making and distributing flyers around the area.
Hundreds of them were posted on light poles and mailboxes to the community and distributed door-to-door and local sporting events. They posted Katie's photo on Facebook pages and on lost pet networks. Strangers joined them for walks around the neighborhoods in search of Katie.
As former Los Angeles law clerks, kings knew how to look through abandoned buildings. They investigated dirt in alfalfa fields, looking for clues or canine ejections. They considered the possibility of Katie being hit by a highway car, but without any evidence, they were squeezed.
"Think of it as a crime scene," Mr. King said.
Day 15  Traps and Flavors
After a few weeks of searching, kings decide to try some more extreme measures. They ordered two video cameras, which wildlife researchers use, who can record video when an animal passes by. They ordered animal traps, hoping that the food – like the cheese sticks Katie preferred – would press her into a cage.
Mrs. King also started jogging and biking around the neighborhood, hoping her sweat might signal the dog that her family was close. They left used T-shirts at strategic locations, as did Katie's blanket and dog bowl.
"I don't think there is a street in this area that we have not walked on," Ms. King said.
Later, the couple brought shaving hair and a few buckets of manure from their horses home and, with the approval of local farmers, carried it near traps and other possible places.
Later, after hearing speculation that Katie might be on the move at night, the couple got night-vision goggles and spent hours outside in the cold, hoping to see Katie go around the field.
But I didn't see any activity. Camera cameras showed no sign of their dog. Traps? They caught a soro, a cat and four skunks.
However, tips came. As people reported possible sightings, the kings crept forward.
On one occasion, they walked 15 miles to the Columbia Falls in a tip, although they seemed clear. Another time they would check, even when the description of the dog did not sound quite right.
"In our heart, I would always say, 'If I didn't follow, what if it was her and you did nothing? ", said King.
Sometimes it turns out to be a different dog. One time, while talking to a landowner on a farm, a woman approached them and said that she had just seen their dog crossing the road and crashing into a canola field The kings went running and called on Katie
They did not find her
Leaving her job
Mrs. King was still working as a mail carrier back in the Spokane area, and she had to return home for a week in August while her husband continued to search.
She spoke with a boss "But it was not possible during the summer months. Although the money had helped to supplement their pensions, she informed.
" Katie was just more important to me, Mrs. "I just said," I'll finish this week and that's it. "
When she returned to Kalispell, Mr. King had to return to Spokane. He left a note written for Katie.
" I'm going home to take care of your siblings, "Mr. King said, referring to their two dogs and a cat. "Instead of saying goodbye, I'd rather say, 'See you soon. "
Loss of hope
For a month and a half in demand, kings still felt hope. There was no sign of Katie either, but there was also no evidence that she was dead.
However, by the second week of September, Ms King stated that she was growing demoralized. She was crying and wondering if the dog would never be found.
"I wasn't ready to go, but I was thinking, 'What else can I do?'" Mrs. King said.
Missing her house and their other animals, she planned to return home about 250 miles away to spend the weekend. However, her husband persuaded her to stay, offering another week. Some of her new friends in Kalispell also encouraged her to insist.
One man opened his home for the kings to remain in the area. More than a dozen others took hours to help them search.
"We cannot trust this community there," Mr. King said. Ms. King added, "I came out of her kindness from people, from stranger to stranger."
"I understood her"
On the morning of September 15, Ms. King received another tip. this time by someone in a subdivision near the hotel. The resident said he was looking out the window and was sure Katie was in his backyard.
Mrs. King and a friend rushed in. But when they got there, everything he saw was gone. They walked through the fields nearby, looking for binoculars.
They met a couple on a walk, told them about their search, and the woman pointed to a dog under a nearby tree.
It was a border car. They began calling out Katie's name The dog was cautious, cautious. Others in the group fell silent as Mrs. King called for the dog. Katie ran full speed and jumped into Mrs. King's arms.
"All I could think of was, 'I'm done. I have it, ”Ms. King said. "I was crying, holding on to her, hugging her in a bear hug. I couldn't get her in the car fast enough to close her so I wouldn't lose her again. ”
Katie immediately fell asleep in the front seat of the car. She was dirty, dehydrated and had lost 15 pounds. They took her to an emergency vet, who shed tears, knowing that this was Katie, the dog that so many Kalispell worked to find.