Three months after Jeremy Gal-pin's cherished hand-carved granite bear disappeared from his front lawn, four legs walked it through Walmart's front doors.
Galpin had carved the bear out of black Swedish granite during a stone-sculpture apprenticeship in Paris in 1998.
After being shipped to Canada, the 100-pound bear had guarded the front door of Gal-pin's downtown Chilliwack home for five years.
But last November the bear went missing.
Galpin was devastated. He and his wife, Amber Short, contacted the Times to ask for the return of the bear, no questions asked.
But the bear remained missing until two teenagers apparently carted it into Walmart earlier this week and left it, for some still-unknown reason, in the grocery store's chip aisle.
Short says Walmart employees told her that a customer saw the bear and wanted to buy it. But when the customer brought it to the register, a clerk could find no record of the sculpture in the store's inventory. The bear was moved to the store's customer service desk, where employees took to calling him Charles the Third.
It didn't take long for a customer to recognize the bear as having appeared in last November's Times article. On Tuesday, Walmart employee Serena Hill called the Times to inquire about the bear, and shortly thereafter this reporter relayed the news to Short.
"Oh my God!" Short exclaimed, upon hearing the news. "Oh my God! Oh my gosh, my husband's going to freak out."
Short quickly attended the store attended the store and confirmed that the bear was the one sculpted by her husband 15 years ago.
With help, Short loaded the bear into her vehicle, with a plan to surprise her husband when he returned from work. Asked to help unload the family vehicle, Galpin found his bear staring back at him.
He later told the Times that he considered the bear lost forever. In the days after its disappearance Galpin had taken to visiting pawn shops, in case his sculpture had been sold for quick cash. The bear was nowhere to be seen. (His time wasn't a total waste: after the story appeared in the paper, Gal-pin heard from a Garrison Crossing resident who had had another statue stolen. Galpin spotted that statue in a local pawn shop and it was returned to its rightful owner.)
Now that the sculpture is back safe and sound, Galpin, who now works as a carpenter, said the family will keep it safe inside.
"I'm just really grateful to everybody in the community who kept their eyes out for it," he said.
Galpin is still curious about what, exactly, the bear has been up to in recent months. He said it looks darker, as though people had been frequently handling it.
"If only the bear could talk," Galpin said.