It was a joyous reunion Thursday, May 21, for JoAnn Youngquist and her standard poodle Ren, who she adopted from Northern Lakes Rescue in Pequot Lakes.

On May 5 Youngquist adopted Ren. However, the skittish dog, still on its leash, got spooked and ran away that night from her home on Crow Wing Lake, south of Brainerd. Youngquist said Ren is scared of steps and when she and her husband were bringing her into the house, Ren saw the deck steps and bolted.

Youngquist called Shannon Steele, founder of the rescue shelter, right away.

Ren, who is believed to be about 4 or 5 years old, came to Northern Lakes Rescue after being abandoned in the woods in Deer River. Ren was initially rescued by an organization called The Retrievers, an all-volunteer team based in Minneapolis that offers tools, experience and expertise to help rescue lost dogs. That group brought the dog to the Pequot Lakes shelter.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

A volunteer with The Retrievers, Kathy Britain, worked with Ren for about two weeks. Britain said the dog’s coat was so matted they weren’t sure what gender the dog was until she was groomed. After she was groomed they were able to confirm she was a standard poodle and most likely was a dog used for breeding.

“This is what these people do when a dog is no longer needed for services,” Youngquist said of breeders. “They can’t bring them to a shelter because they are not socialized. She had been surviving in the woods prior to being rescued and barely knew domestic life.

“She didn’t know how well she was going to have it at my house.”

Youngquist was scared Ren’s leash would get caught on something, making her vulnerable and be prey to wild animals.

Once Youngquist put the call out to Steele, volunteers with the shelter, including Stephanie Tangen and Britain with The Retrievers, got to work on the search. They posted photos and information on Ren through social media, posted flyers, knocked on doors in the neighborhood and put out several feeding stations and cameras in hopes to locate the lost dog. Ren went missing on a Tuesday night. There were a few sightings that night and the next day, but then nothing.

Hope was vanishing.

Volunteers put together an extensive search for Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, in hopes that people who were going fishing on the opener or to their cabin may see her. Everything was set and volunteers drove to the search site. As they were driving, Youngquist received a phone call that morning from a neighbor about finding Ren. Ren had been found tangled in her leash on a bridge over a creek in the woods about a mile away from her property. The children who had found her were enjoying a four-wheeling ride and just happened to notice her.

Youngquist said the children, who were so proud to have found Ren, had seen the flyers of the dog lost, so they knew they shouldn’t approach her. They rode home and told their parents, who then called her.

“There are no words to express my gratitude for keeping me sane and the expertise in finding Ren,” Youngquist wrote in a letter. “To the kids that found her and were brave enough to help. They made my Mother’s Day so special.

“These organizations who helped are amazing. They showed up 100% and were here every day.”

After finding Ren, a decision was made for Steele to take her back to the shelter to decompress and to train Ren how to manage stairs.

“This was just a freak incident.” Steele said. “The only reason why I adopted Ren was because of JoAnn and her experience, she is going to give her a great home. She has already put in a fence, got her a GPS tracking device collar and is doing everything she can for Ren.

“After taking in Ren she has been doing really good with stairs.”

Steele and her husband Russ brought Ren to Youngquist’s home Thursday, May 21. Steele said it will take Ren time to adjust to her new home but they believe in double leashes and Ren is one of those dogs who will need double leashes in the beginning as she takes time to adjust to her new family.

After giving Ren some treats, Youngquist said, “I am so grateful to these people and Ren is going to have a wonderful life here. She has a lake, a fence and she is going to have people who love her. She is going to have fresh chicken from Costco later today.”

“This day means a lot,” Britain said, who spent every day looking for Ren while she was missing. “I know she is scared, but with time she will feel like a dog and the new owners will be her pack.”

To learn more about The Retrievers go to and for more about Northern Lakes Rescue, a nonprofit foster home based rescue organization, go to

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.