It’s been over three months since Ottawa couple Diane Chicoine and Trevor Williams saw their beloved rescue dog, Arya, but their fight to bring her home is far from over.
Arya went missing in Kingston’s east end on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at approximately 8:30 p..m. At the time, the dog was staying with Chicoine’s parents, who live on Fieldstone Drive. When Chicoine and Williams received word that Arya had escaped and was missing, they immediately changed their plans and returned to Canada.
Ironically, the couple were in Antigua, the very island where Arya was rescued from.
“This year, we took our vacation in Antigua so we could help more dogs find homes away from the island. If you have ever travelled to a Caribbean island, you have for sure come across dogs (potcakes) and probably witness first-hand the difficult life they live. Their biggest predator is the human,” Chicoine said.
For the trip, the couple came to Antigua with dog crates and donations to a local vet they were working with who needed hard to find supplies. The couple also worked with the Air Canada Foundation to obtain waivers for dogs on their return flight.
Unfortunately, those plans were cut short when the couple was contacted by Chicoine’s mom when Arya went missing.
“We are devastated. She was supposed to be safe at my mom’s. We never thought we’d find ourselves in this position. We especially felt hopeless while being in Antigua and unable to come home. The flights are very limited and we came home as soon as we could but we feel that we missed the opportunity to affect a different outcome,” Chicoine expressed. “We feel like we failed her fundamentally in keeping her safe.”
Since Arya went missing, the couple, with the aid of Chicoine’s brother and sister-in-law who also live in Kingston, have worked tirelessly to find their dog. Their sister-in-law initially set up an online campaign to bring Arya home, and received a tip that the dog had been picked up and placed into a silver SUV just a few doors away from Chicoine’s mother’s home, near the corner of Fieldstone Drive and Rose Abbey Drive at about 11 p.m. the same day she got out, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. It is unclear whether or not this claim was true, but Chicoine said they have not received any information on sightings of Arya that proved successful since then, nor indication that she has been found deceased during the spring thaw.
The couple and their family spent three weeks walking around the neighbourbood and surrounding wooded area before needing to return to Ottawa. They have returned to Kingston several times since then, and have been in contact with the Kingston Humane Society throughout the time Arya has been missing.
The couple adopted Arya after the unexpected passing of their miniature schnauzer.
“To say she was unplanned is an understatement. I saw her picture and I knew I needed her. Something about her called to me. Arya filled the gaping hole that our mini left,” Chicoine said. “She’s spunky and has a bigger-than-life personality.”
Furthermore, Arya is one of three Antiguan rescues in the couple’s household, and Chicoine described her as the central leader of the trio.
“The energy in our house has been subdued tremendously. I even noted to my boyfriend that I don’t feel as safe in our house without her here. She is a protector and a lap dog rolled into a 40-pound package,” she said.
Describing her as “the centre of attention,” and “too smart for her own good,” Chicoine recalled the way Arya made herself comfortable in their home.
“Arya is also a complete snuggle bug; we always joke that she can’t resist folded legs on the couch when someone is napping. She has to get in there to snuggle in the bend of your legs. She shares my pillow at night, snug as a bug between the two of us. She never hesitates to protect us and will tell strangers when they get to close to her momma,” she said.
Now, after bringing Arya into their home to save her from the unsafe life she had in Antigua, the couple are hoping to bring Arya home again.
“We have been unable to imagine a world where she doesn’t come home to us. Her absence is felt every day,” Chicoine said. “Most of all, we worry that someone is hurting her, or that she is still lost, alone, scared and cold. We worry that she thinks we don’t love her enough to find and help her.”
Anyone with information on Arya’s whereabouts or possible sighting of the dog is asked to call 613-263-3322 or 613-863-3888. Chicoine and her family can also be reached via email at [email protected] or [email protected].