Calli the lost Chihuahua reunited with family in Minnesota

Patti Carpenter

It was an incredible journey home this past weekend for Calli, the tiny, five-pound Chihuahua, facilitated by a number of animal loving, good Samaritans in Lovell. The little 10-year-old dog became separated from her family during a visit to Lovell several days before. 

In spite of a call to action posted on Facebook the day she went missing, she remained missing for several days before turning up about a mile away from where she was last seen. Two very similar looking local dogs lost around the same time added confusion to the search, with multiple sightings, none of which turned out to be little Calli. Though the Internet lit up with clues, none led to Calli’s return to her family before they had to leave the area.

The little dog’s saga began on Tuesday, June 18, when housekeeping staff at a local motel inadvertently let her loose by opening the door to a room at around 11 a.m. to perform daily housekeeping services. Calli’s family, Kirby and Ashley Arens, had left her in the room for a short period of time while they toured the Queen Bee Candy factory with other family members. Though Kirby’s brother was there when the dog bolted out the door, she was extremely frightened and wouldn’t come to him.

The Arens were in Lovell from Minnesota, visiting their relatives from the Zeller family. It was on the first day of a four-day stay in Lovell that Calli went missing. The Arens spent the remaining three days of their trip searching for her, to no avail. Finally, as heartbreaking as it was, they had to begin a long road trip home without her.

“We had kind of given up,” explained Kirby Arens. “We thought for sure we’d never see her again.”

Calli had been a part of the Arens family since she was a young pup. Kirby said he and his wife bought the Chihuahua when their daughter, who is now 14, was around kindergarten age. It was her first puppy.

Animal lovers and the Lovell Police Department’s animal control officer, Jessica Throssell, went into action, searching high and low for the dog. Several days passed, until on Monday, June 24, a call came in to police dispatch from Jody Lynne Bassett, who spotted the little dog from her office window at the Western Sugar Factory. 

“I think I just found the little lost dog from Minnesota,” she told dispatch.

Exhausted, with the pads on her little feet bleeding and damaged from walking at least a mile searching for her family, Calli was found at last. Bassett said she called her, and she came right to her.

Bassett transferred the dog to Throssell, who took her home and nursed her back to health for a few days. Though the dog was not microchipped, Throssell was able to determine in a phone call with Kirby that it was the Arens’ dog after he described specific markings on her. 

In the meantime, Bassett’s mother, Linda Martin, who had heard about the lost dog being found, called and offered to take Calli home to her family in Minnesota.

“I thought about it, and we were already planning to take a road trip to Michigan -- and Minnesota was on the way,” said Martin. “It was an easy thing for us to do; besides, she needed to be with her family.”

Martin said she was sad when she and her partner Steve Ramsey arrived in Minnesota to reunite Calli with her family because she had become attached to the dog during the road trip. She said the dog sat on her lap the entire journey.

“When Kirby walked up, she wagged her tail,” said Martin. “It was obviously his dog, and she seemed happy to be home.”

Kirby said this was not Calli’s first cross-country adventure. She travelled with the family from San Diego where she was born when they moved to Minnesota eight years ago. He said the family is very grateful to all those who helped find Calli and got her home to her family. He said he was especially grateful to Martin, who wouldn’t accept even a small contribution for gas after bringing Calli with them on their road trip to the Midwest.

“They just wanted to make sure our dog was home with her loving family, and that was such an amazing thing for them to do,” said Kirby. “It still feels kind of surreal to have her home with us. We thought we had lost her forever.”