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Cat lost in large forest inspires generosity and hope


For the past two years, Shelley Hall would go for daily walks in the woods with a cat carrier attached to her back and Sophie the tabby peering out.

“I tell her that her job is to bring joy – and she does,” Shelley says, recalling how her cat would greet the people they passed. “She’s very sweet and social.”

Sophie was also very confident, until that day last summer when the cat jumped out of her carrier and an exuberant dog chased her away. Shelley searched for Sophie all day, but the cat didn’t come back.

“It was the worst day of my life,” Shelley says.

Until Shelley found herself experiencing the worst weeks of her life.

After putting up posters, posting on social media, and scouring the 565 acres of forest surrounding Royal Roads University every day from dusk until dawn, there was no sign of Sophie.

“It‘s like she vanished into thin air,” Shelley says. “It does get harder and harder to believe that you are going to find her.”

But then a former neighbour, Marilyn Hanner, stepped up to help.

“There’s nothing to think about,” Marilyn says after being asked why she joined the daily search for Sophie. “You have an animal in distress, you jump in.”

Marilyn and her husband also bought four trail cameras to set-up around the forest to donate to the cause.

“If you have the means, why wouldn’t you?” Marilyn says.

As weeks turned to months, the camera captured countless other critters — from slugs to raccoons to a cougar.

“Seeing the cougar was quite daunting,” Shelley says.

But then one day while looking through the footage, Shelley and Marilyn spotted a picture of a blurry tabby that inspired definite hope.

“Oh my God! That’s Sophie!” Shelley recalls saying. “She’s alive and she looks well!”

Three weeks after that, which included multiple sightings, and thanks to crucial help from the animal rescue group ROAM, the cat was captured close to her home.

Sophie and Shelley were reunited after being apart for more than three months.

“She purred and rubbed against us,” Shelley smiles before showing pictures of the cat cuddling close to her face. “She was so happy to be home.”

Shelley and Sophie are back doing daily walks in the woods. But now the cat’s attached to a leash, while her mom’s thankfulness can’t be contained.

“I feel gratitude very easily now,” Shelley says. “For so much.”

And for so many people – especially Marilyn, who never gave up helping or hoping.

“Never give-up trying,” Marilyn says. “Until you know for sure, you can never give-up.” Top Stories

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