Weekend Sun   

Clairvoyants help search for dog

The missing Winston.

The family photograph isn’t complete. There’s new mum Wendy holding newly arrived 8lb 9oz (6.3kg) Indigo, or Indie for short, and there’s a proud new dad Alex. Then there’s a void.

“It’s a bittersweet time for us,” admits Wendy.

The void is because Winston’s still missing. Winston’s a dog but a dog with status. He’s not just a pet but a crucial add-on to this nuclear family. It used to be Mum, Dad and the kids. But in the case of the Keirs, it includes a dog, it includes Winston. “No-one’s told him he’s a dog. He thinks he’s human,” says Wendy.

In other words he is one of the family. Wendy, Indigo, Alex and Winston.

But Winston’s been AWOL since February 20. And if he knew, if he could understand the kerfuffle, the fuss he’s causing, he would no doubt find his way home. Where he would be forgiven, of course.

“And we know he is coming home, we really do,” says Wendy, perhaps overly optimistically.

It’s been an extraordinary exercise, probably more people and effort committed to looking for Winston than a regular search for a missing person. Hundreds of people, known and unknown to the Keirs, have collectively spent hundreds of hours scouring the Takitimu bushland for Winston, social media’s been electric with sightings, theories and news of spontaneous searches and even police dogs have been looking for the ‘bro’. But so far, not so much as a sniff.

Has Winston been dog-napped? Is he being sheltered by a well-meaning but unwary Samaritan? Or is Winston injured and lost.

So far questions but no answers.

There have been the stock standard ‘Missing – please help’ flyers. Dozens, hundreds of them. But this is a much more sophisticated, more elaborate campaign than posters, a couple of lines in ‘Lost and Found’ and search parties.

Wendy, Alex and Indigo Keir.

The Keirs set aside their emotions and developed a strategy, one of awareness. “The aim of the game, and what we have been concentrating on, is making sure every single person knows about Winston and is keeping an eye out for him.”

Short of bringing Winston home, it has worked. The Weekend Sun stopped several people outside the office on The Strand this week. Each of them knew Winston like he was their own dog. The media has played its role. Like The Weekend Sun. Like this story. Breathing life into an eight-week missing dog yarn.

“Because if a neighbour spots something unusual, like a new dog, or they know something about someone, share it with us. Winston has got to be found. He will be found. And not through big search parties but through people being aware,” says Wendy. So it might pay to be sad and smart at the same time.

A $1000 reward remains posted. It could loosen a tongue. It might prompt someone who knows someone who has a new border collie and shouldn’t have one, to come forward.

“Perhaps it’s someone who is not being malicious or anything like that. They could be unaware or they simply don’t want to let go of him.”

A desperate family has also taken desperate measures, tapping into the sixth sense, the supernatural. “We have been doing the whole clairvoyant thing,” says Wendy. “They have tried to tune into Winston. They really feel someone has Winston.”

But to date, Extra Sensory Perception hasn’t told them who, where or why.

So why have so many people been touched by one missing dog, a dog and it’s owners they do not know? “I think everyone can feel his spirit. He is not just a dog. And there are so many dog lovers, so many animal lovers. He has reached out to their hearts.”

So Winston is not just a dog. Then what is he? Well again, it seems he is part of a complete family dynamic.

“In fact the only thing he is good at is providing unconditional love. That is it. He is not a breeding dog, he is not a guard dog. He is nothing apart from a dog that gives love. And I think people can feel that.”

Even when Wendy was heavily pregnant and “waddling around” her search went on best she could. She monitored her ‘Bring Winston Home’ Facebook page and responded to people out looking and reporting sightings.

But doesn’t there come a time when people who “have tried everything, like everything we can” have to accept the inevitable and move on. Perhaps get a new dog?

“No, no, no – never! No, we won’t ever. Not until we know what has happened to him and where he is. We absolutely want resolution, whatever that may be.”

So she is cuddling Indigo and keeping an eye out for Winston? “We strongly believe that finding him isn’t far away.”

Winston went missing from the canopy on their ute between the Elizabeth St roundabout and the tollgates on Route K. Searches have been fruitless but perhaps those animal lovers, those dogs lovers and the Keirs can draw inspiration from Winston’s wartime namesake, Winston Churchill.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going,” said the late British Prime Minister.

Then the Keri’s Winston just might come home and the void in the family photograph might be filled. Have you seen Winston? Do you know where Winston might be? Call Wendy, Indigo and Alex on 027 469 7377.

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