fb-pixelA perilous winter journey by a furry fugitive - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

A perilous winter journey by a furry fugitive

This runaway puppy was found sleeping in someone's flower pot in Westford.Westford Animal Control

Every day, police officers respond to reports of all sorts of events and nonevents, most of which never make the news. Here is a sampling of lesser-known — but no less noteworthy — incidents from police log books (a.k.a. blotters) in our suburbs.


Here’s a story that surely should be turned into a children’s book. It all started on Feb. 5, after a puppy named Sweet Pea was picked up in Vermont and brought to her new home on Pleasant Street in Westford. But the 6-month-old border collie must have been scared, or feeling homesick, or a combination, because before she even got into her new house she escaped from her collar and took off running. Over the next two days, she was seen traveling along the train tracks, and there also were sightings of her on West Prescott Street and on Route 119 in Littleton.

The following week, Sweet Pea was spotted on East Prescott Street, Coolidge Avenue, and near the VFW hall on West Prescott Street. Then she was seen across town — about 4 miles away — on Providence Road. But her grand tour of Westford didn’t stop there. She was also seen behind a house on Drew Crossing, running across Boston Road near the fire station, and then on Forge Village Road, which was 2½ miles away from where she had been on Providence Road. A humane trap was set up, but Sweet Pea didn’t fall for it. “She ate food leading up to the trap but seemed to know that something was up,” Westford Animal Control Officer Kirsten Hirschler wrote on Facebook. “She poked her head into the entrance but didn’t go in any further.” Then she took off, again.


Sweet Pea (a.k.a. Juniper) spent weeks on the run in Westford.Westford Animal Control

Sweet Pea faced many dangers during her journey around Westford. At one point, Sweet Pea fell through ice, but she managed to pull herself out, and then a resident saw her being chased down the street by a coyote, but she was able to get away. After it snowed, Sweet Pea was seen sitting on porches on Main Street and running in the middle of snow-covered roads.


“At that point, we knew she that she was using train tracks, power lines, and established trails in the woods to move around as much as she could,” Hirschler wrote. “The snow was fairly deep and iced over, making it much harder to travel the routes she usually took. The snow plows and sanders were all out and no doubt scaring her. Sightings started coming in and she was running down the middle of the roads now, the only route her little legs could take her.”

On the morning of Feb. 27, Westford animal control received a call from a resident on Pleasant Street near Beaver Brook Road who had returned from vacation and found Sweet Pea sleeping on the front porch, curled up in a flower pot. After spending more than three weeks on the run, Sweet Pea was (finally) reunited with her new owners. They brought their pup home, safe and sound, and named her Juniper.

Her owners and Westford’s animal control officer thanked everyone who assisted with their search. Her “23-day adventure was extensive,” Hirschler wrote. “We received so many sightings, so many ups and downs that we could write a small book.”


Thankfully, Juniper survived the ordeal without getting hurt. She was an usual case because “not only was she a young puppy but she traveled distances that were totally unexpected to us,” Hirschler said in an e-mail to the Globe. “In situations like this, we end up having to hold our breath hoping they don’t get injured and just wait for them to tire enough to settle in an area. The cold and snow was huge for Juniper as she could no longer travel hidden in trails and had to resort to the roads. The cold also wore out her little body. The combination of these things was what allowed us to catch her in the end.”

When it comes to lost dogs, Hirschler said flyers are “crucial” to getting the word out, because not everyone is on social media, and Missing Dogs Massachusetts, a nonprofit organization run by volunteers, offers guidance and equipment to help reunite lost pets with their owners.

After 23 days on the lam, Sweet Pea (a.k.a Juniper) was eventually reunited with her owners.Westford Animal Control


On the afternoon of March 1, police responded to a report of a vehicle on fire at the Derby Street Shops in Hingham. Officers who arrived at the scene found a 2011 Ferrari ablaze in the parking lot. The flames were quickly extinguished by the Hingham Fire Department, and (thankfully) no one was hurt. Police posted a video of the car fire on Instagram.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.