Protect your pets during Canada Day fireworks, says woman who lost dog last year

Hudson, a nine-month-old golden retriever, got spooked by Canada Day fireworks in 2023 and disappeared, says Kelly Russell, right, shown here with daughter Ellie, partner Dylan Somers, and Hudson. (Kelly Russell - image credit)
Hudson, a nine-month-old golden retriever, got spooked by Canada Day fireworks in 2023 and disappeared, says Kelly Russell, right, shown here with daughter Ellie, partner Dylan Somers, and Hudson. (Kelly Russell - image credit)

The last time Kelly Russell and her family saw their golden retriever, Hudson, was at a campground on P.E.I.'s North Shore on Canada Day in 2023.

Russell, who's from Miramichi, N.B., had just settled in at Twin Shores Campground with her daughter, her partner, and Hudson, who was nine months old at the time.

It's an annual tradition for the family — a few days of rest, relaxation and fun, all beginning with the campground's annual July 1 fireworks display.

"We went to the fireworks along with a lot of other people and their dogs, so we never really thought too much of it," Russell said Sunday.

"We had [Hudson] … leashed up. When the fireworks started, he got spooked and he took off towards the water, and never to be seen again."

Hudson was never found, but Russell holds out hope that he's somewhere 'living his best life.' (Kelly Russell)

Hudson's disappearance sparked days, if not weeks of searching, as well as a Facebook group called Help find Puppy Hudson that quickly amassed thousands of members.

Despite the help of fellow campers, the surrounding community and social media followers, Hudson was never located

Warnings from humane societies and animal protection agencies against taking pets to fireworks displays are nothing new.

Fireworks can be a spectacle for humans, but they can terrify pets.

Russell said Hudson was trained to hunt ducks and was accustomed to the sound of gunshots, but the fireworks proved to be a different beast for the golden retriever's senses.

She's urging pet owners to be wary this Canada Day.

"I didn't realize the flight mode that an animal would go into, so before we reached out to everyone, we were just yelling his name frantically, trying to bring him back," Russell said. "He had such great recall and we just thought once he got far enough away from the sound that as long as he heard our voice he'd come back to us.

"The brain just doesn't work like that in a dog. It needs to calm down, it needs to feel safe and it doesn't even realize that you're calling its name."

'Hope he's living his best life'

The family has since adopted a new dog, another golden retriever named Banks.

The family's new golden retriever, Banks, is already settling in at Twin Shores Campground for this year's Canada Day, but he'll be in the family's camper during the fireworks. (Kelly Russell)

They've returned to Twin Shores for Canada Day 2024 despite last year's experience. But Banks will stay in the camper during the fireworks.

Russell hopes other pet owners follow suit, as does Twin Shores Campground, which posted a tribute to Hudson on social media alongside some tips for July 1 fireworks safety for those with animals.

Russell is grateful for the help of the campground's owners and Islanders who tried to locate Hudson after that fateful Canada Day.

She still holds out hope that Hudson is safe.

"We always say we hope he's living his best life around the hills of P.E.I. with a farm family or something [who's] not on social media and they just don't know where this dog came from."