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August 24, 2018

If you follow Champion of My Heart on Facebook, you know that we spent the better part of July helping a family spot and rescue their border collie. She went missing in the huge wildland park near us on July 4. The headline? The family rescued sweet Nellie July 24, and she is recovering from her ordeal really well. I want to talk, though, about storytelling -- especially in public / social media / online settings. Whose place is it to tell stories like this? In this case, not mine. The story is not my story. Here's why.


This is the remote / wildland area where Nellie went missing.

overhead image of lost dog map area

I'll always be grateful for the outpouring of love and support for Nellie's family during her time missing, both online and in real life. I also understand that everyone who became emotionally invested in the search and the unfolding story wants to know the details of how Nellie's family finally rescued her.

And, yet, the story is not my story. That's why I have not answered questions or shared details about her rescue publicly. 

While it's often true in my life as a journalist that the story is not mine, the loss and rescue of Nellie isn't my story to tell because:

  • The nearly 21-day ordeal was traumatic for her and her family. 
  • The details of how they felt and what they did are theirs, and theirs alone, to tell when they are ready.

When Curiosity Crosses the Line

As I say in Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate, no one else is entitled to know everything about the painful experiences you have. People will ask, and I support your decisions to answer, decline, ignore, or side-step as needed. The same goes here.

I understand how compelling survival stories can be. I really do, but we need to let people find their voices. We need to let them set their own boundaries. And, we need to give them the space to process what has happened.

What I Will Say

Here's what I can and will say. Absolutely every single thing Nellie's family did (and chose not to do) every day she was lost mattered. It all led to the final HAPPY result. It all built a strategy of progress and consistency that paid off as we hoped. 

We didn't know if that would be the case. That is why focusing on the process of doing the work it takes to achieve anything is so important. If we only focus on the outcome, then we set ourselves up for only one definition of success. 

For the last year or so, I've been working with a personal development coach through a monthly subscription mode. In recent months, I've also been working with her 1-on-1. We talk about focusing on progress and consistency a lot. 

We also talk about what it means to remain positive in the face of naysayers, unsolicited advice or criticism, disappointments, failures, and how you can honor your progress while still striving for continuous improvement. 

I brought all that thinking and hope to this situation. 

I invited Nellie's mom to write The Story that is her story to tell -- either here or for a wider audience. If and when she is ready, I look forward to seeing how she tells the parts I know and the parts I don't know about the nearly 21 days Nellie was lost.

Until Then, Enjoy This Photo

I took it minutes after Nellie was rescued. She looked incredibly good for having been on the run in a remote, rural, mountain area for nearly 21 days. 

lost dog found safe

Also bonus photo of Nellie's sister, Campbell, with whom all of us fell in love during the many days of searching. She was such a trooper.

close up of dog's face with cute gray highlights
About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. Glad that Nellie was rescued. The days at which she went missing must be terrifying for both dog and owner.

  2. That was so well stated. As much as we all WOULD like to hear the story, it SHOULD be their’s to tell. I hope when she does write the story if it’s not through you that you will share a link to it. I’m so glad she was found.

  3. I’m so glad that Nellie was rescued! Those 20 days that she was missing must have been quite an ordeal for her and her family. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress and worry and the toll it took. I hope that one day they will share at least a part of the story, but would understand if they don’t.

    1. They do plan to tell their story, when they are ready, but I know it’s hard. Like when I wrote the grief book when I was still so raw from Lilly’s death.

  4. Roxanne: I am the Nutrition Consultant for K9Cuisine contracted as a web content writer to cover about 160 breeds as to history, care and health issues and breed specific suggested foods in their inventory. I have Greyhounds and Galgos Espanol rescued from Spain (a cousin to the Greyhounds). I need my dogs as well…they are life…
    I am also a writer – so passionate about my writing that it covers various subjects and styles…a wordsmith at heart, I write for myself (much therapeutic value in this) as well as for others…
    I do recall that you were at some time affiliated with K9Cuisine…
    A pleasure to leave a reply ✍️❤️

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