Dog lovers Paula Closier and her husband Peter were terribly worried after Bonnie, their 5-year-old beagle mix, escaped from their yard on Sunday July 10, the BBC reported. Paula was particularly upset because they live near a main road and feared Bonnie would be hit by a car.
“Bonnie was a street dog and we were so worried she wouldn’t have known how to come back,” she told the BBC.
The couple, along with their two daughters and neighbors, searched their entire neighborhood in West Sussex, England, for the missing dog. They called vets, police and local animal shelters to try to locate poor Bonnie, but she was nowhere to be found.
Paula also posted on Facebook that her dog was missing in hopes someone in the neighborhood would find him.
Later that day, John Wilmer was driving his two dogs to a dog show and saw Bonnie by the side of the road, not far from where the Closiers had been looking. “I was in a bit of a rush to go when we found Bonnie and put her in the car,” he told the BBC. “He was such a beautiful dog, I thought it would be nice to enter him.”
Before taking Bonnie to the show, he posted a message on Facebook saying he had found a dog on the street. The Closiers saw the message and replied to Wilmer’s message.
Wilmer already had plans for Bonnie, so he decided he might as well give her a good date with her dogs before bringing her home. So he signed her up for the show and lo and behold, she won third place in the Best Rescue category.
When Wilmer brought the dog home, she was wearing a large, beautiful yellow third place ribbon. “When John brought her back to us with a rosette, we couldn’t believe it. It’s a shame she didn’t come on the show first,” Paula told the BBC.
Bonnie had to win the award because of her natural charm. “[She’s] a free spirit,” Paula told The Dodo. “She’s lovely, never negative, tail always wagging.” Bonnie was rescued from Crete, Greece, where she lived as a street dog.
What started out as a terrifying day for the Closier family ended up being a day they will never forget. “We found her adventure charming and fun,” Paula told The Dodo. “We are so thrilled that she is safe and healthy and also a winner. You couldn’t make this stuff up.”
“Bonnie was just fine when she got home. She just thought she was having a great day,” Peter said, according to People. “When she disappeared I had five different outcomes in my head, the best being that she came back. It was even better than that, she came back with a rosette.”
Now that Bonnie has shown she can succeed in the world of dog shows, Paula plans to place her in another show.
“We could,” she said. “She obviously enjoys them.”