Bev Sandlin is pleased that her collie, Gia, has returned home after disappearing eight months ago.
Bev Sandlin is pleased that her collie, Gia, has returned home after disappearing eight months ago.
Gia was missing for a doggone long time...

Beverly Sandlin's glad her lassie came home.

"Last July, on the night of the Freedom Fest fireworks, I was across the street at Ryan Rubin's to watch the fireworks, and Gia was lying at my feet when the first fireworks went off, and she disappeared. I thought she just ran home, across the street," said southwest Spring Valley resident and dog owner Sandlin, whose collie took an eight-month odyssey, returning just two weeks ago with no available explanation of where she'd been or how she'd survived.

Bev and her family - her husband, Bob, and her stepdaughter, Jamie - actively searched for Gia for "about three months," placing ads in the Tribune, posting flyers with her picture around town, and calling the sheriff's office in Fillmore County and Winona County and the state police for this area. She also searched the website of Mower and Olmsted county shelters and the Winona shelter because she used to live in Winona. She contacted the collie rescue for Minnesota and Wisconsin, posted her picture on Facebook and Craigslist and talked to the vets in Spring Valley and Chatfield because she was spayed in Chatfield. Besides that, she drove around the city calling her name.

"Bob and Jamie would periodically stop at our old place in Rollingstone where she was raised and would call for her," said Sandlin. "She was thought to be sighted behind Tootie's - Pam Freet thought she had been seen there, so we went to the farm up the road to see if he had seen her. She loves poultry and herds them - and would have gone there, I would have thought, as the smells would have been similar to her raising."

Sandlin was most worried that Gia was "hurt and had no one to care for her, or that she was starving," but gave up on searching for her "after about three months. We figured she was either dead, or a farmer had her, as she is an excellent herding dog. There was a lot of sadness around here when it became evident she was not coming home, both here and in Winona, where she has loved ones. Her 5-year-old 'puppy' Jessica really missed her. But after a while we all adjusted."

Then came the momentous news.

"Amanda Rubin stopped one morning about two weeks ago and said she thought she had spotted Gia running between the Spring Valley Greenhouse and Kuehn's Body Shop. She tried to follow her in her car but lost sight of her behind the body shop," said Sandlin. "I jumped into the car with her, and we immediately went to that body shop. I called a couple of times, and Gia peeked her head out from the trees enough for me to know it was her, then disappeared again. I walked over and saw lots of dog trails in the snow. I kept on calling in a coaxing voice...saw her cowering under a truck topper and extended my hand."

Gia came "very willingly" to Sandlin once she realized who she was. "Gia timidly smelled my hand and then exploded from under the topper to me - she was so excited she almost couldn't contain herself, and so was I! I asked Amanda if it was OK if Gia could ride with me in her car since we were about a mile from home. Amanda was very gracious and said, 'Yes, of course!' since she is a dog person, too. Gia jumped in the car, I got in and she jumped on my lap. Amanda took us home, and Gia is back!"

The first thing Sandlin did when she got Gia home was "love on her...and took off her bark collar." She related, "Gia is a very lean, athletic collie. She came back fatter than when she left! Her one collar was too tight on her at that weight. She came back with all three collars on her - pink buckle collar, flea collar and a green bark collar that never did work. She was just so excited to be home. She greeted her 'puppy,' Jessica."

Sandlin did some investigating after she was certain that Gia was home to stay. A couple of days after she got her back, she stopped at Kuehn's and the people there told her to go to the body shop. The person at the body shop said that he had seen her for about the last month and had tried to make friends with her, but she wouldn't come to him. He said he had not fed her, but there may have been a dead deer in the gully behind the shop.

Sandlin stopped at the farmstead behind the shop, and the lady said she had seen a small female collie running along the fence line in the last week, but they had not been feeding her either.

She also mentioned that Ruth Rentschler up the road is missing her little dog. Perhaps someone has her little dog, the same as someone was caring for Gia, wondered Sandlin, adding that perhaps Rentschler's dog can be found through this news article.

Gia has settled back into her home routines, lounging on the doggie couch and keeping the horses rounded up. "She is back to herding the horses up every night, but wanting to stay inside more than before. She was very outgoing and all about 'Love me, pet me.' Now she seems rather wary of men, which leads us to think she might have been abused at some point. However, she dearly remembered Jamie and our granddaughter, Andreya."

Sandlin thanked those who might have lent a hand to the prodigal pup, saying, "'Lassie' came home! If a dog shows up with a collar, please contact the sheriff, local vet, city, whatever, but someone is missing their pet, a family member. She's home! Miracles do happen! And thank you to whoever fed her!"