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Pets in the City - Adopting a Dog

By Jeni Published: December 12, 2009

Part Three  . . . HOW TO LOOK FOR A LOST DOG

Pets in the City by Jeni
The Search for Katie
Part three - Learning How to Find a Lost Dog

(Click here if you missed Part one or Part two)

Day One – or Ground Zero . . . On May 31, 2008 I decided to adopt Katie and bring her home. Katie was in the car with me, with a collar and a harness. I stopped in Brecksville at the farm where my girlfriend boards her horses to show her Katie and to let Katie “walk”. I had no idea what “walk” meant to her. She jumped out of the car, wiggled her skinnier-than-they-looked shoulders and slipped the harness. She looked back one time, and then took off, heading north. She RAN. She did not walk.

My friend, Amy took off after her on foot and I got in the car. Amy ran about 5 miles chasing her and then we drove in and out of neighborhoods, up and down the streets. She jumped into and swam across a pond and we lost her. We kept spotting her behind someone’s home, or in the street, but she was frightened and wouldn’t let us approach her. At one point, she actually got on the off ramp on I-77 heading the wrong way. We chased her down 77, she crossed over 4 lanes of highway traffic and then she ran over to the V.A. Hospital property. The first day I spent 5 hours in Brecksville looking for her. It was 9 pm when I left the area. I felt sick.

Day Two – Running/driving around like a crazy person . . . Not only had I never had a dog of my own before, I had absolutely no idea what to do. How exactly does a person find a lost dog? Since she ran off in Brecksville, I called the Brecksville Police Department, hoping that telling them about a lost dog was a police-type thing. It was. I also talked personally to the V.A. Hospital security police. That was sort of necessary, because I WAS in their parking lot – a Federal Building parking lot – with binoculars – looking across the street at Lubrizol. Nothing suspicious in that kind of activity, right? So we got to know each other – up close and personal by the police cruiser. Anyway, I also called the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter and told them to be on the lookout. I called the Richfield Police, Independence Police, the animal wardens in two counties, The Summit County Animal Shelter and told anybody else who would listen, right down to the drive through staff at Dairy Queen. I saw her once at the AT&T building, parked my car and walked toward her. She looked up, saw me and my car and she took off like a shot. I finally went home.

Day Three – The week it rained. Oy. The following Monday, it was pouring down rain and I got a telephone call from a Lubrizol employee. She said, “I’m Laurie and I think I just saw your dog run past my office window!” She told me that she looked horrible; all wet, burrs stuck in her tail, head down, trudging through the pouring rain. Laurie had called the Brecksville Police and they gave her my cell phone number.
Because of Laurie, and with permission from Lubrizol, my search began to take on more focus. I called the Brecksville Animal Warden to ask for idea on how to locate her the most efficient way. The Animal Warden was able to locate and borrow a large sized Hav-a-Hart humane animal trap. We were able to place it in the north woods on Lubrizol property. It was right outside Laurie’s office window, so I had the gift of additional eyes on the trap while I was at work. The animal warden told me how to set the trap and what to put in the trap. I got to know the Lubrizol security guards and Laurie better. The security guards called me “The Dog Lady” and when I think back on it, I’m absolutely certain it was meant as a compliment. Other Lubrizol employees would call because they had heard about Katie just to ask about her.

For the next 10 days I would drive from Fairlawn to Lubrizol in the morning and open the trap, put in fresh food, then drive back to Lubrizol to close the trap at dark so no raccoon or skunk would accidentally get into the trap. I spent literally hours sitting on the lawn at Lubrizol, or sitting in my car, listening to talk radio, reading books and doing work in the Lubrizol parking lot. One evening I was leaning against my car  looking through my binoculars at dusk, watching the woods and I heard “chhchchchchchch” beside me. Immediately my super-crack force imagination jumped into gear and I closed my eyes, with the binoculars still at my face. I prayed, “Please God, don’t let it be a snake. Anything but a snake” Who says God doesn’t answer prayer?. I slowly opened my left eye and looked down. I immediately closed my eyes again and prayed, “Please God, ANYTHING but a skunk.”

I slowly got into my car and the skunk walked in a kind of drunken-sailor pattern across the lawn at about point-one-millionth-of-a-mile per hour over to the woods. Then I closed the trap for the night. The security skunk and I had a deep respect for one another.

The dark of nights . . . It was interesting to me, because I would put huge pieces of meat into the trap and in the morning, after the trap was closed, the food would be gone. I put in raw steak, pork chops, spare ribs, raw sausage, dog gravy, Alpo, the stinkiest cat food, cheese, Wendy’s hamburgers and dog treats in the trap. I imagine that at night, the raccoons with their little skinny hands and sharp nails reached into the trap and shredded the food to get it out.

It’s nice to know that someone was getting the food! Everyone likes a well-fed raccoon.

Day Four – When smarter people than me start getting involved. . .Laurie and her husband, Eric, suggested that I make a flyer with Katie's picture and information on it. A flyer. Brilliant. Here I am just driving in circles like I’m going to see her and she’s going to remember me and jump into the car as I drive by or something. A flyer with a picture and information on it. Excellent, practical idea. I made posters with her picture. I drove up and down the street handing them out to the businesses on Rt. 21. I drove through the neighborhoods and stuck flyers in the mailboxes or newspaper boxes. The first day I got several phone calls from the police who spotted her or had a report from someone reporting a red dog. I was driving around on my own, up and down the neighborhood streets like a stalker.

Day Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen . . . More of the same. Wake up early, drive from Fairlawn to Brecksville, check in with Lubrizol security, walk across the lawn to the north woods, bait and open the trap. Drive back to Fairlawn to work. This is when gasoline was at the $4.00-ish range. At the end of the day, drive back to Lubrizol and either sit in my car and watch for her, sit in my car and read the book I picked up “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dog Training”, or sit in the lawn and wait for Security Skunk to appear. I would close the trap and drive back home at dark. One of the hot days, the Lubrizol security guard, I think his name was Chris, called me and said – “Come to the security office! We see your dog!” Since I was in the north parking lot, I was there just like I had beamed in from the Starship Enterprise. We both saw her in the south lawn, just hanging out. So we devised a plan where I would stay in the Lubrizol south driveway and the security guard would go out and around and kind of flush her out and toward me. (I can hear you all laughing now).   She ran down and ran through the security gate, where I wasn’t able to follow, and disappeard into the woods. But it was a supreme effort on the part of the Security Guard. On a side note. If a person MUST spend time waiting somewhere, it doesn’t get much prettier than the Brecksville Lubrizol property!

DAY FOURTEEN, FIFTEEN . . .Saturday, June 14th at 5:45 Amy and I were at one of our friend's houses for dinner in Medina. My phone rang and one of the Lifeguard employees who works at the Pool Supply and Lifeguard staffing company, just south of Lubrizol, called me and said that he saw a red dog at the Pilot gas station. He grabbed a donut and he with 2 more guys and they started chasing her. “Don’t worry lady, we’ll get her”. They saw her last at Snowville and Brecksville Road. The guy called back and sounded really out of breath and said they couldn’t catch her. But at least I knew the where-abouts. The opinion of the animal control people was that if an animal had access to food of sorts, water and relative shelter, they would stay within a 1-2 mile radius. She was moving slowly south. I spent Sunday hangin’ out at the ol’ Pilot truck stop. Wow. I had no idea how many trucks come through there. Hanging out at a truck stop is a little different experience for me.
Since she had progressed from Cuyahoga County to Summit County, I called the Richfield Police and Laurie’s husband Eric, who works with a girl who has a father on the Richfield Police Department, who is friends with the animal warden called (I think that’s right) and told them that Katie was on the county border and to watch for her. I gave Pilot and Wendy’s a flyer.

DAY SIXTEEN . . . On Monday, June 16th, about 2:00 p.m. the Marathon Company next to the Pilot station called the animal warden and said they had a red dog inside a fenced-in area. Cliffette, the animal warden called me right away and told me to meet her at the Marathon across from the trucking company. I said I would leave work and be on my way. She said if I got there first, to sit on the ground and let Katie come to me.
In my mind, "Marathon" meant a service station,

and I imagined a red dog enclosed in a dumpster area waiting for me and excited to see me and get in the car and go home with me. In reality, when I arrived at Marathon, it turned out to be a place where there are building-sized

holding tanks of gasoline. I went through the Security gate and the Marathon guys apologetically said they lost track of her. When Cliffette got there, she asked where she was “fenced in” and they opened their arms wide and said, “This is it” She looked puzzled and they said, "It’s 35 acres fenced in on all sides."   Whoa. I’m glad I just didn’t sit on the ground. Anyway, this is the Marathon holding area, where all those giant fuel storage tanks are located. With acres of woodland, just like Lubrizol.  Security drove me around and around.  I locked my keys in the car and had to wait for the police to open my car door.  I was losing it.
DAY SEVENTEEN AND EIGHTEEN . . . Marathon consented to letting us place the

Hav-a-hart trap on Marathon property, as long as it was outside of the fence line in the woods. We moved the trap from Lubrizol the same day. I started all over again baiting the trap, opening it  in the morning, closing it in the evening. I got a phone call at 10:30 p.m. and 3:30 A.M. Sunday/Monday telling me that they had spotted the dog. I went and sat for several hours on Tuesday and didn’t see a thing.  I went back on Wednesday morning and afternoon and re-baited the trap. Nothing. No more phone calls, no spottings. I sat in my car and waited for hours. The trap remained empty.

OH ME, OF LITTLE FAITH. . . At 5pm Wednesday, I officially gave up. I figured Katie was trap-saavy and was just too much of a free spirit to allow herself to be caught. I closed the trap and went home. I emailed Laurie at Lubrizol, called Cliffette the animal warden and told them that I was giving up the quest. Everyone was nice and supportive and said that they felt I had given it a good try. But sad, just the same. The animal warden said she would pick up  the trap the next day.

DAY NINETEEN . . . I got up on Thursday morning to get ready for work, and just as I was putting on my shoes, my phone rang at 7:15. It was Paul, one of the guys from Marathon. He simply said, “Jennette? Your dog is in the trap.”
It just didn’t make sense. I asked him if he was sure, and he said yes, that this time he was actually standing there looking at the trap. I explained why I didn’t understand, because I had closed the trap the night before.

If you’ve ever seen a Hav-a-heart trap, you would understand that it couldn’t accidentally be opened. He said, “I don’t know what to tell you, but she’s in the trap.” I said, “I’ll be there in 30 minutes.”
I called Cliffette and met her there. And there Katie was, just sitting in the trap looking at us. Not upset, just sitting there. Like she was waiting for me. I couldn’t believe it. Not barking, not panicky, just sitting there. The two of us picked up the cage with Katie in it and loaded it into the back of the animal warden's pickup truck. We took her to the animal warden's office, still in the trap, and opened the trap inside of a kennel and closed the door. She just sat in the trap for a while. Then she came out, and in about an hour started to move from the outside area of the kennel and into the inside area of the kennel in the office. She took a couple of treats from me. When I felt she would be calm, I put a different kind of collar on her, one that she couldn’t slip out of, and took her out for a walk. No pulling, no growling, no biting, no snapping, no bad behavior. She went to the grass and did what dogs “do” in the grass.

I had to pick her up and put her in my car the first time. I kept a leash on her the entire time. The leash was fastened to the headrest with a caribeaner. I drove to my office, opened the car door, un-caribeaned the leash, held on tight and she jumped right out. She trotted into the building, walked on to the elevator like she worked there forever and stayed with me, all stinky and bad looking for the rest of the day. Leashed to my desk. She was just covered with briars, sticks, thistles, and dirt. All tangled in long, red hair. We went to the pet store and she just jumped up into the car like she had been there forever.

I was so excited to call Laurie at Lubrizol! She had called or emailed me every single day since she first saw my little red, wet, messy dog. When I had spoken to her the day before, she told me that her daughter in law was having a baby, and she wanted me to know that she made a special prayer to God because she had been praying about the baby, but she didn’t want God to think that she had forgotten about Katie.

That was amazing to me. I told Laurie that I bought a St Francis of Assisi medal to put on Katie's collar when I got her back, even though I am not Catholic and just a “heathen Lutheran”!

When I called Laurie, I asked first about the baby, and we talked about the new baby girl! Then I told her about finding Katie. She was speechless. Then she cried and said it was the best week she had in a long time! She was just as excited as I was! So now, many pages later, Laurie told me that her new granddaughter’s name is Caydence. I decided to change Katie's name to Cady, so that Laurie and I both would have a “Cady” on the same day. Katie. Cady. I had my "Kate".

I believe that people are sent to each other at specific times in our lives. I believe that Laurie and the staff of Lubrizol were sent to me for support. One small, humanitarian act from many individuals changed my world!

Through this experience I met Laurie who I will stay in touch with, and Cliffette, the animal warden who was wonderful to work with. The Brecksville Police Department was exceptionally helpful and the Richfield Animal Warden was available when I called and needed them when she was "trapped". And the two guys from Marathon who were great sports, drove me around the secure area at Marathon and granted permission for the place in the woods and a safe place for Cady! And a guy named James from the Wendy’s at the Pilot who called me to give me the Pilot report. There’s something “different” about animal people I think.
I took Cady to the vet the next day who declared her a bit underweight, but “No worse for the wear”, and updated her immunizations. The next day was her very first grooming appointment!
(Next . . .How to find a groomer; due diligence in finding a dog trainer)

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