A Santa Rosa family is celebrating having their Bernese mountain dog home for the holidays following the pooch's extraordinary journey across the Mayacamas mountains to as far away as the city of Napa, a distance of some 35 miles.
Equally as impressive as Boo surviving for a month in the wilderness were the lengths Mike and Beth Gallatin went to during their frantic search for the family's beloved pet, which vanished Nov. 21 during a nasty wind storm.
The couple hiked mountains and river valleys in Sonoma and Napa counties, posted thousands of fliers and hired a professional animal tracker. Beth Gallatin at one point even flew over Napa Valley in a rented helicopter hoping for a glimpse of the furry brown, black and white dog.
"We just felt we needed to do everything we could once we got down the path of looking for him," Beth Gallatin said this week. "We just couldn't stop."
The saga, which was chronicled on social media sites, drew dozens of volunteers and had neighbors in communities across two counties keeping an eye out for the lost dog. It all culminated Saturday in a joyous reunion near Glen Ellen.
"I can hardly talk about it without crying. Imagining this dog wandering around for a month, curled up in a ball sleeping, it was heartbreaking," said Stevi Hanson, whose home on Trinity Road was the site of Saturday's reunion.
The Gallatins never fathomed the drama that would unfold after Boo vanished Nov. 21. The couple, who have two teenage daughters, had finished moving into their new home in the McDonald Avenue neighborhood of Santa Rosa that very day, when the storm unleashed a fury that blew transformers and knocked out power.
Mike Gallatin is a landscaper and stonemason; Beth is the costume director for SPACE Performing Arts School in Ukiah, where the couple previously lived.
They put Boo in the backyard before leaving to pick up one of their daughters. When they returned, they were shocked to discover that the 5-year-old dog had bolted, apparently through a hole in a fence they didn't know existed.
Boo wore a flea collar but nothing else. Beth Gallatin said they'd removed the dog's harness, which had an identification tag, so that he would be more comfortable on the ride to Santa Rosa.
In the ensuing days the couple posted fliers and scoured their Santa Rosa neighborhood for signs of Boo. About a week later, they began receiving conflicting reports of sightings in Oakmont and in Calistoga.
The couple split up, with Beth Gallatin taking the aerial tour of Napa Valley while Mike canvassed the Oakmont neighborhood. But then a homeowner on Cavedale Road east of Glen Ellen reported seeing Boo, sending them in a new direction.
Members of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Northern California joined the hunt. The Gallatins also contacted officials with Caltrans, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and police agencies across Sonoma and Napa counties to alert them to the search.
Around Dec. 10, a caller reported seeing Boo at a car wash in the Browns Valley neighborhood in west Napa. By road, that's a distance of about 35 miles from Santa Rosa. Boo likely covered many more miles, up steep mountainous terrain, to arrive at that point. But as was the case on numerous occasions, Boo was nowhere to be found by the time the Gallatins arrived in Napa.