New children’s book features lost Castlegar dog who swam the Columbia multiple times

Jasper after he was reunited with his owners Mary and Brent Hummel. Photo: Steve SmithJasper after he was reunited with his owners Mary and Brent Hummel. Photo: Steve Smith
The Hummels found Jasper in the middle of a dirt road on the opposite side of the river from Castlegar. Photo: Steve SmithThe Hummels found Jasper in the middle of a dirt road on the opposite side of the river from Castlegar. Photo: Steve Smith
The book is available on Amazon.The book is available on Amazon.

The story of a dog that swam back and forth across the Columbia River near Castlegar looking for his home has now been turned into a children’s book by its owners.

Jasper, a Great Pyrenees, wandered away from his Castlegar home on July 3, 2020. Later that day, he was spotted by a boater on the opposite side of the river across from Genelle.

The next day, he was seen in Genelle — he had crossed the river again.

Later the same day, Jasper was noticed by some campers, floating down the river on the opposite again. They were able to coax him to shore, but Jasper was skittish and refused to eat or stay.

Jasper’s owners, Brent and Mary Hummel, spent hours looking in the wilderness for their beloved dog.

After giving up for the day and heading back to town, one of them said, “This isn’t like Hollywood, where your dog just comes out of the woods running toward you.”

But, that is exactly what happened.

“A miracle happened,” said Hummel. “Right in the middle of the road — there was Jasper.”

RELATED: Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

All throughout the search for the dog, residents of Genelle pulled together to assist the Hummels in their search. People walked the area, used their boats to search the river and even used drones to search the wilderness. The book, Mary said, is a show of gratitude.

“It is a thank you to a community who rose up in the middle of COVID to help,” said Mary.

The first draft of the book was penned shortly after Jasper’s rescue.

Mary says Brent just sort of blurted out the story and she typed it up. They read the story to their grandchildren, who were captivated with it. That’s when they knew they could turn it into a book.

“It is a fun story — so why not share it,” says Mary.

Around the same time, Mary had to undergo back surgery, so she spent her recovery creating the illustrations for the book.

The original version was 3,500 words, too long for a children’s book, so they also had to trim the contents down to 1,350 words. That meant the story had to be condensed, and some of the people the authors had hoped to mention by name had to just be grouped together as a part of the story.

King of the Columbia, Jasper the Great Pyrenees can be found on Amazon in e-book, paperback, hard cover and audio book formats. The Hummels also hope to have the book in local stores soon.

The audio version was read by Mary and recorded by Drew Zibin in Grand Forks at Sound Advice.

The Hummels and Jasper have now moved back to their Grand Forks farm where they raise sheep and Jasper spends his days as a happy guard dog.



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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