How did Sherlock Holmes solve The Case of the Missing Sheepdog? By using simple logic. What do sheepdogs do? They herd sheep. So, if a sheepdog were to suddenly vanish, where might one expect to find him? Herding sheep, of course.
All right, for all you sticklers, we’re aware that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote a story called The Case of the Missing Sheep Dog, but when Tilly, a 2-year-old border collie/red heeler mix recently went AWOL after his humans and their truck were involved in a traffic accident, he was later located practicing his herding skills on a flock at a nearby farm.
Tilly (named for Gonzaga University basketball player Killian Tillie, currently on the roster of the Memphis Grizzlies) was thrown from the Oswald family’s GMC Yukon when it collided with a Buick LeSabre late last Sunday morning on Idaho State Highway 41 near Rathdrum. Ejected through a broken window, a frightened Tilly ran off through the fields.
A search was mounted almost immediately. Strangers stopped their cars near the site of the crash to help Mike and Linda Oswald look for their lost fur baby.
After 10 hours of hunting with no luck, the Oswalds called it a night and headed home, but not before posting a picture of Tilly to Facebook and asking for folks to be on the lookout for their precious pooch. Their plea was shared more than 3,000 times.
The following Tuesday, Tyler Potter noted something peculiar going on with one of the dogs on their family farm: an Aussie Shepherd named Hooey looked a bit off—like his fur was darker. She mentioned it to her brother, Travis.
But it was only later, when another brother, Zane noticed Hooey behaving strangely—rather than coming when called, the normally obedient hound ran in the other direction—the Potters began to suspect something unusual was afoot.
When the siblings finally put two and two together, they realized what they had on their hands wasn’t Hooey not being Hooey, it was, another doggo altogether. Having been privy to the Oswalds’ Facebook post, they knew immediately the counterfeit shepherd was none other than the absconded Tilly.
By pure coincidence, a Sheriff’s deputy, who happened to be scouting for signs of Tilly, was passing by just as the Potters reached their stunning conclusion. They relinquished custody of the sheepdog impersonator to the peace officer and did not press charges against Tilly for herding without a permit (even though they were fairly certain his enthusiastic but untrained attempts had gone awry and sent several flock members out of the pasture and onto a nearby road embankment).
Linda Oswald confirmed the Potters’ suspicions. “He’ll herd anything,” she told the Spokesman-Review. “When I go to the dog park, he tries to herd the people into one group.”
On Tuesday morning, Tilly was reunited with his joyful family. Unhurt and relieved to be home, the only lingering effect of his two-day adventure was a tremendous thirst (which he unceremoniously assuaged by lapping up huge quantities of water from the commode).
Linda Oswald admitted she’d been heartbroken over the loss of her beloved pet and couldn’t thank everyone who kept up the search enough. If pandemic-related social isolation pandemic has an upside, Oswald believes it’s inspired folks to try to reconnect any way they can.
“All of a sudden, I think people saw a time to really jump out and help, even if it was just a small thing like finding a dog,” she told Spokesman-Review. “There’s a lot of kind people out there.”
And so, The Case of the Missing Sheepdog is happily closed… without a single “Elementary, my dear Watson” exclaimed.