Brent Bryska and his black German Shepherd Nelson have been inseparable for 13 years.
Bryska, who has mobility issues, relies on his three dogs for emotional support, safety and companionship.
“They are more than pets,” says Bryska, “they are family.”
On December 10, the electric battery pack on the gated fence to Bryska’s property south of town was low and the gate was not fully secured. Nelson went missing that day and searches resulted in no clues as to his whereabouts. Bryska then turned to the community to help find his beloved pet.
The number of people who have responded and offered to help has been completely overwhelming, he said.
“People have been absolutely amazing,” said Bryska. “With the support and all the messages from people I don’t even know, I definitely don’t feel like I’m going through this on my own.”
After Bryska posted on social media about his missing dog, residents Jeff Leggat and Sara Mitchell-Banks reached out. Neither had met Bryska before, but were touched by the story and wanted to help. They met with Bryska and created social media pages to spread the word, collect sighting tips and coordinate searches.
“Brent is a wonderful guy who is beside himself with this loss,” said Leggat. “He’s already dealing with ongoing health issues and is dependent on others to help him with this.”
According to Leggat, volunteers have been out on trails almost every day looking for the dog. Modes of transport have included cars, ATVs and horses; a local helicopter company has also done a few flyovers, he said.
Bryska said he is prepared for the possibility that Nelson may have been shot by a hunter or taken by a predator.
“There has been a large cougar spotted in my area recently, or maybe he was mistaken for a wolf and got shot,” said Bryska.
Since Nelson has now been missing for more than a month, it is becoming increasingly unlikely he has survived on his own, said Mitchell-Banks.
“At least if we could find the body it could give Brent some comfort,” she said.
Bryska said hope remains that someone picked Nelson up without realizing his owner is searching for him, or that he survived and is waiting to be found.
“I’m just hoping if somebody sees him, or has him, they call the SPCA or post a picture,” said Bryska. “I can’t thank everybody enough. I wish we could say we had found him.”
For more information, search for Finding Nelson on Facebook.