THE DOMINO EFFECT
How a lost foster dog made me a better person!
(Includes tips and protocols for finding your own lost dog)
I came into the world with 2 siblings. I felt protected because my mother was always there—to feed me, to protect me, to guide me. The humans in my life were not happy that my brother and sister and I were here. The man looked at us as an unnecessary expense. I could tell the woman liked us and thought we were all cute. But the man obviously held the purse strings and made family decisions.
My siblings and I had spent several weeks with mother. One day the man came and scooped all of us puppies up, drove us a long ways away from mother, and tossed us out of the car one at a time. I remember feeling in shock—where was mother? Why was I taken from her? Where are my brother and sister?
I hit the ground very hard but after the initial shock wore off I was able to stand up. Everything seemed to work—no broken bones. I started whimpering because I was scared and hungry and lonesome. My first thought was to try and find my brother and sister so I started running and yipping for them. As I ran I kept noticing more and more people around. Several of them called to me but since my only exposure to humans previously had resulted in being tossed out of a car like garbage, I turned and ran in the opposite direction.
After quite a while, I gave up trying to find my siblings and I decided I needed to find something to eat. I came upon a cluster of houses that had some garbage cans outside with smelly items inside. I tried to dump them over and get the precious food scraps contained within. The pickings were really slim but I ate everything I could get my mouth around. I wasn’t sated but it did help with the hunger pangs I was feeling.
Life at this time was spent constantly moving, trying to find new sources of food (garbage cans, dead animals, scraps thrown out for other animals to eat). I could tell I was in a big city because there were lots of cars, trucks, houses, big buildings and people around. While I didn’t like being so close to people, the city did afford me more opportunities to raid garbage cans and get scraps thrown out by restaurants. Several times I was shooed away from my nightly garbage can raids but this only reinforced my fear of people.
I spent all of my time by myself. I was always hungry and I could tell I wasn’t gaining weight like I should as a growing puppy. After several months on the run, several people must have been tracking me because all of a sudden a group of them surrounded me and captured me. I didn’t like it at all and I struggled to get away.
Cody was a frightened bag of bones when the members of the Des Moines Animal Rescue were able to capture him. He was immediately brought to a veterinarian who determined he was close to one year in age and weighed 7 pounds. This little guy was starving to death. Cody went through the required vaccinations and health check up and was then put on the list of dogs to be fostered. A wonderful husband and wife, PJ and Tim, stepped forward and agreed to foster Cody. Things were starting to look up for the little black and white Sheltie.
I remember being brought to my new foster home in a crate. I guess they were afraid I would run away if I wasn’t contained. And they were right!
PJ and Tim brought me into their home. They already had another foster Sheltie and we got along famously. It brought back memories of my brother and sister to me. I really liked the companionship of the other dog. And I really started to bond with PJ but not so much with Tim. I guess old habits of being tossed out of a car by a man are hard to overcome.
I spent 4 glorious months with PJ and Tim. Each day I grew to trust PJ and even to listen and trust Tim a little bit. PJ and Tim had to move to a different property, and their new home wouldn’t allow dogs—especially barking Sheltie dogs. Geez, what do you expect two guard/herding dogs to do? Sit back and watch TV? But there was no getting around the fact that we weren’t going to be able to make the move with PJ and Tim.
The MN Sheltie Rescue agreed to bring me up to Minnesota and find another foster home for me to live in. I wasn’t anxious about making another change, but what can a little Sheltie boy do? His fate lies in others’ hands.
My name is Robin and I am a member of the Minnesota Wisconsin Collie Rescue and the MN Sheltie Rescue. I have had Shelties since I was 3 years old so I’m very familiar with their tendency to be shy around people. At the time I got the call to foster Cody/Domino, I was currently fostering a collie female for MWCR plus I have 3 collies and 1 sheltie of my own.
I was working the Adaptive Recreation program on a Tuesday night when I got a call from the MN Sheltie Rescue about Cody. I was told he was really shy, was still underweight and needed to be socialized. If I hadn’t been occupied with what was going on at the Adaptive Recreation event, I might have turned down the sheltie rescue. But as it turned out, I said yes and was eagerly anticipating Cody’s arrival.
The Rescue decided to rename him Domino as they already had several dogs named Cody on their list. Domino was brought out to me the following Sunday. He was probably one of the cutest Shelties I’ve ever seen, but oh so afraid. I had him carry the long line outside the first day or two because I knew he would never come when I called for him. Our mutual training time was about to begin!
Wow, three big dogs and another one my size in this new house. I found out the big dogs are collies. First there was Collin who was a rescue and found wandering the streets of a town just like me. We had a lot in common. Then there was a female collie, Shelby. She was brought up from Tennessee by my foster mom to be a therapy dog. Unfortunately Shelby had been severely frightened as a youngster by some teenagers who threw cherry bombs at her. To this day, thunderstorms still really frighten her and don’t’ even mention fireworks on the 4th of July!
Next was another collie male, Harley, who was young like me and liked to play. We would often run throughout the house playing chase. It was grand fun. And the other dog in the house, Mario, was a sheltie like me. I don’t think Mario liked me as he seemed really protective of my foster mother. I found out she had rescued him 5 years earlier and he was her first rescue dog. So he felt he had dibs on her.
The days were spent running and playing unless my foster mom was at work. At first I was on my best behavior so she let me run the house when she went to work. But one day I just couldn’t help myself. The new leather couch smelled so good and to be honest, it tasted even better than it smelled. I could tell my foster mom was upset about the hole in the couch, but she didn’t yell at me. Rather she put some brown duct tape over the hole and then proceeded to put me in a crate whenever she went to work. I wasn’t always thrilled with this, but I did feel safe within the crate and she always gave me treats or a chew toy to play with while she was gone.
My foster mom cooked for us dogs too. Sometimes it was chicken, barley, peas, carrots, pumpkin and flax. Other times it was beef steak, rice, broccoli and cauliflower. She seemed to make a big batch whenever she cooks so we get to enjoy it all week long. But cooking day is my favorite. I love the smell of the meat cooking and I know it’s going to taste so good. I think I’m starting to gain some weight.
After I had been with my foster family for about a month, my foster mom took me to some “puppy classes” with other dogs. I was so frightened by the other dogs in class. I know my foster mom was always with me, but it didn’t seem to matter because I couldn’t concentrate on what she was asking me to do because I was so nervous about the other dogs attacking me. We graduated but I know we left the class with mom not knowing what would motivate me to learn since I was so nervous in class that I didn’t even want to take the treats that were offered
me. I think my foster mom is going to try and train me at home on obedience. Plus I saw her bring home some PVC piping the other day and put together what looks like a jump of some sort. Maybe she wants me to jump over it . . .I’m not sure. Time will tell.
It was a Saturday morning and all of us were lounging around waiting for a summer storm to pass before my foster mom let us out. We all ran out the back door and scattered to go potty. However, Collin noticed that the back gate seemed to be ajar. We all ran over there and yes, it was not latched but stood open about 1’. We all ran through the gate. Sweet freedom . . .
I’ve had shelties for 54 years but none as scared or as shy as Domino. My heart broke during several of the puppy classes because he was so scared. He wouldn’t let me put him in a down and he learned quickly how to sit but he did so only by cautiously looking around the room to make sure no other dog was close by. The trainer noticed that when she walked Domino back to me on the leash for a recall, Domino had a habit of zig-zagging back and forth. The trainer and her husband both said that they had seen that before in a dog that had some vision problems. We tried to test Domi’s eyes and he seemed to not have as much vision in his right eye than his left. Although we did pass the class, I decided to keep him at home this summer and just walk him with the other dogs and get him out and around other people and situations.
I will never forget Saturday morning, July 23rd. I let the dogs out about 11:00 after a strong thunderstorm came through a little bit earlier. I didn’t notice that the back gate was not latched tight when I let the dogs out. Some strong winds were blowing through behind the storm and obviously blew the back gate open. I hadn’t noticed this but instead went to my computer to try and reboot it after shutting it down because of the electrical storm. For some reason the computer would not reboot. So I tried many times to get it rebooted. After about 15 minutes, I couldn’t believe how quiet the dogs were out back. I went to check on them and was horrified to see the back gate open and no dogs in the back yard.
I started running around the fence to the front of the house, calling for the dogs. Some neighbor kids across the street had managed to get Collin and Mario headed in the right direction for home. I literally grabbed Collin by the scruff of his neck and dragged him back into the back yard. Mario trotted right behind him. Just as I got those two back in, Harley came running over from the Farmers Market area. He happily went back into the fenced back yard. Three down, two to go! I again ran to the front of the house and started calling for Shelby and Domino. I could see Shelby being herded back across 2nd Avenue and she quickly ran up the front steps of the house. I pulled her around to the back yard and latched the gate. Okay, all of mine were safely back home. Now I had to find Domino!
Ah, I had freedom with my 4 legged friends. I chose to stick by Shelby, my collie girlfriend. We often had a race to see who could get to the back fence before the other. As fast as I am, sometimes she won—maybe it’s because of her much longer legs. In any case, Shelby and I trotted down Hassan Street and were close to Faith Lutheran Church. Some kids who lived across the street were trying to get us to come back to our house. Shelby decided that she wanted to go back home; however, I was so scared from them calling out and running after me that I just bolted down the street to get away from them. I ran down the closest street and starting turning and running, turning and running, until I came to some flowing water—a river.
There were big buildings nearby, not like my house but bigger than my foster mom’s home. There were a few people around but not too many. And the ones that were there didn’t pay any attention to me or else they just didn’t see me. I liked that!
I realized that trying to track Domino was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I came back home and started making calls. First I called the local police department and alerted them that Domino was on the run. Second I called and left a message at the local animal shelter in case anyone was able to catch Domino and bring him to the shelter. Third I called the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue since Domino is technically their dog. I couldn’t stop sobbing about Domino’s escape. I know how shy and scared of people he is and I know there are millions of places that Domino could find to hide in. Estelle and Karen from the Sheltie rescue agreed to drive out just as soon as they could get there and help me pass out flyers, put up signs and basically canvass the area where he was last seen.
Karen and Estelle arrived and spent the whole afternoon passing out flyers in the neighborhood and talking to people who might have seen Domino. I raced up and down Hassan Street calling Domino’s name. One neighbor told me she had seen Domino earlier by Faith Lutheran Church. After that, the trail went cold. No one I talked to had seen him. Karen had brought out two live traps and showed me how to use them. I really hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Karen and Estelle made the trek back to the Cities and I sat down and couldn’t stop crying. I felt so guilty about him getting away. Here the Sheltie rescue had entrusted me with his care and I let this sweet little guy slip through my fingers.
I decided to make my last call for the day. That call went to Ilga Cimbulis, an animal communicator. I had taken several classes with Ilga and I found her to be very honest and forthright with her communications. She was more than willing to help me and told me she would connect with Domino and call me back. Fifteen minutes later she called and said that Domino had passed by the following things: a church, a beauty salon, a gas station, and a body of water. Ilga indicated that he had headed southeast from my house. I told her I could verify the church, the gas station and the body of water, but I couldn’t remember there being a beauty salon anywhere southeast of my house. I thanked her for the information and told her I would call her later the next morning.
I decided to keep moving along the river and I came to a marsh area where I got a cool drink of water. I can’t remember a time when cool water tasted so good. I was feeling hungry and I noticed some houses on the hill by the marsh. I decided to check out the garbage situation. I ran past some animals in chicken wire cages. I didn’t find much to eat there at all. I decided to head further south along the river. Wide open fields stretched ahead of me. This looked promising with no people to chase me. Maybe I would find some berries to eat or it’s possible I could catch a small animal. My stomach was rumbling from lack of food. I heard the rumbling but I couldn’t do much about it. I really miss my foster mom’s cooking.
I couldn’t sleep that night at all. I was so worried about Domino being out there alone. I knew he had survived alone on the streets in Des Moines so he had some savvy on finding food and water. Still I worried about him being on the river. Coyotes and bobcats often follow rivers and Domino wouldn’t be able to survive a contest with a wild predator.
I had my cell phone placed right next to my pillow. About 1:00 am I received a text saying they had seen Domino that evening and to text back. I responded with where did you see him and at what time. The reply was that he was running down the road and he had a red paw and was limping. I asked which road they had seen him on. The reply was Hassen Street. Hassen is the street where Shelby and Domino had run to from my house. I then asked what time the sighting was. The reply was 9:15 that evening. Something seemed strange to me about the text. I had been out doing some searching for Domino myself after 9:00 that evening and it was starting to get dark enough that I know I wouldn’t have been able to see if a dog running down the street had a “red paw” or not. I’m sure I would have noticed a dog limping, but the red paw seemed strange to me. I wanted to follow up on every lead, but I wasn’t comfortable walking around the streets of town at 1:00 in the morning by myself. I emailed Estelle from the Sheltie rescue about the text. She said that in the past when a reward has been offered, some not so savory characters have appeared. She said I should go with my gut instincts and if it didn’t feel right don’t follow the lead—especially alone. I figured that 4 hours had passed already and Domino was probably long gone from there if he had even been there at all.
It was 4:30 am and still dark out, but I decided to drive around in the car and follow the path that Ilga had seen Domino take. I drove past Faith Lutheran Church where we had had two sightings the day before. Then I traveled east along 4th Ave to Adams Street, took a right and went past the Cenex station on Adams. I continued a couple blocks more along Adams Street and came to the bridge crossing the Crow River. The city had been doing construction on Adams Street from the bridge south to Airport Rd. So there was no “through” traffic on the road. The area is all industrial on this part of Adams Street. The huge 3M plant is on the east side of Adams and on the west side are several businesses—construction companies, excavating companies, the armory building and the city’s park maintenance building. I got out and tried calling Domino to me. Nothing!
I came to the conclusion that my driving around looking for Domino was probably not the best use of my time. I decided to take a different way back to my house and lo and behold, there was a beauty salon just one block away from me. I had forgotten all about it. I couldn’t wait to talk to Ilga to give her validation of everything she said Domino had seen the day before.
I’m glad I found some cool, fresh water this morning. It’s getting really hot and humid out here so I think I’ll search out a nice area where I will feel protected and then lie down and sleep for awhile. I’ll search for food once it gets dark out . . .
My friend Terry came out to help me look for Domino. We went for breakfast and then I called Ilga to tell her I could verify the beauty salon. Ilga had me drive over to a road that I had never heard of before—Ranch Ave. It was just east/south of the Crow River. Ilga told me that Domino had drunk from a marsh area on this road and that there would be a cluster of 5 or 6 1960s – 1970s homes. We drove over to Ranch Ave and sure enough, there was a marsh next to the road and to the east were 5 homes all of 1960s to 1970s vintage. I left a flyer at each home but no one had seen Domino. Ilga told me to concentrate my efforts in this area. On the other side of the river from Ranch Ave is the 3M plant. We pulled into 3M and I went in to talk to the guards at the guardhouse. They took a flyer and one of them told me he had seen Domino the day before running down Oakland Ave straight towards the 3M plant. Good news, we had another sighting and more validation for Ilga’s communications. We went back to my house as some more volunteers from the Sheltie rescue were coming over with additional signs to be placed around town.
My friend Terry had to leave for home, so I decided to pass out flyers to all the homes around the 3M plant. As I did, several of the people I talked to said they had just received an automated call talking about Domino and the phone numbers to call if anyone should sight him. Wow, the Sheltie rescue is really organized. I finished passing out flyers and went home to take care of my dogs.
Debbie, a member of the spaniel rescue drove out 5 more signs that she had made up. What a sweet person to drive all the way out from the cities to deliver the signs. I knew exactly where I was going to place the signs tomorrow.
I decided to rest for awhile under a huge leafy bush by the river. During the evening though, I could hear a coyote howl close by where I was holing up. If the coyote caught wind of me, I would be no match for its size and strength. I figured my only defense was my speed at running. I had decided that if the coyote got too close then I was going to run like crazy. Thankfully the coyote moved away from me still following the river. After that, I was able to get a little bit of sleep. My tummy was really growling. I haven’t been able to find much of anything to eat. I can smell people barbecuing dinner but I’m too afraid to come out and approach them. I wish I knew how to get back to my foster mom’s house and get some of that warm, cooked food that I love!
I had to go to work on Monday. Thankfully, Monday and Wednesday are only half days in the morning. I had talked to Ilga on Monday morning and she said that Domino had come across some kind of a concrete barrier and had gone under a wire fence and had scraped his face a bit while doing so. Once I got home from work, I decided to go over to 3M and get permission to walk their property along both banks of the river and also to place a live trap. I stopped again at the guardhouse and talked to the two guards inside. One of them said he had also seen Domino on Saturday running like the devil was after him towards the 3M plant. We had a second sighting of Domino in the same area.
I got the number of the manager at 3M that could give me permission to walk the property. He was in a meeting so I had to leave a message. I decided to just walk the property anyway. I walked along the north shore of the river between the cyclone fence encircling the 3M property and the Crow River. I forged my own path trying to find any sign of Domino having been through the area. I got about ½ mile in when I came to a large concrete pier that went down to the river. I walked up to the river’s edge and saw both raccoon tracks and dog tracks. I felt positive that Domino had been here sometime in the last two days.
Another volunteer from the Sheltie rescue, Judith, drove down to help me look for Domino. She also had brought additional signs to place in strategic spots in town. I decided to place a live trap in the area, but I wasn’t comfortable with placing it on 3M property until I heard back from my contact at 3M. I figured I would place the trap across Adams Street from 3M but still along the river. I got permission from the company owning the land and Judith and I set up the trap baiting it with one of my stinky t-shirts, some Grandma Lucy’s chicken dinner and Domino’s kong toy filled with peanut butter. I had called my ex husband who lives less than a mile from me. When we were first married, he trapped as an avocation and made good money at it. Unfortunately, styles change and fur went out of favor. But I knew he was knowledgeable about releasing animals from traps. He agreed to help me release any critter that I caught in the live trap that wasn’t Domino! Everything was set!
I moved around a lot today, following the river but sometimes going into some fields next to the river. I am so hungry and I still haven’t found much to eat—a few candy bar wrappers with smidgeons of candy bar left, some bags tossed away containing bits of fast food—certainly not enough to keep me healthy. I feel like I’m losing weight just as I did when I was running the streets of the big city. I really wish I could find my way back home but I’m so scared when I see people and right now I’m all mixed up about where my foster family lives . . .
I had planned on checking the traps at 12:00 midnight and at 4:00 am. To be honest, I was feeling exhausted by now. I had been living on adrenalin and about 2 hours of sleep the past two nights. I was communicating with the Sheltie rescue via Facebook and email. Estelle emailed saying that a local policeman had sighted a large black and white Sheltie in a trailer park in the northwest section of town. It was my responsibility to follow up on any sightings although my heart wasn’t in it. I believed in my heart that Domino was somewhere southeast of my home down along the river. Ilga had seen Domino confront certain buildings and landmarks that he would have if he had gone in a southeast direction from my house. But I felt the obligation to check it out so at midnight I took Harley, one of my collies, with me to check the trap and to walk the trailer court. There was nothing in the trap and walking the trailer court at 1:00 in the morning didn’t produce a single dog sighting much less a Sheltie sighting.
I’ve been able to get a few hours of sleep tonight under the overhanging shrub. But it’s time I move on to find both food and water. I decided to follow the river down past the big manufacturing plant and over by some big buildings that have garbage cans that I’m hoping I can find some scraps in. I’m remaining hopeful that I’ll find something substantial to eat.
After checking the trap at midnight, I decided to just stay awake and watch TV so I would be sure to not fall asleep and miss out on checking the trap again at 4:00 am. As I lay in bed watching “I Love Lucy”, I saw something flutter in front of the TV screen. My first thought was that I had a large moth in the house. I turned on the light and realized that I had a bat in the bedroom. The bat was frenetic with its flying movements, diving close to me but not touching me. I panicked and scooted all of the dogs out of the bedroom. I had heard you can use a tennis racket to hit a bat. Unfortunately I didn’t have a tennis racket, but what I did have was the baby gate at the top of the steps. It had a diamond pattern in it like a tennis racket. I shooed the bat into the bathroom (or so I thought) and shut the door. Then I ran downstairs and looked up on the internet how to remove a bat from a house. It said to confine it to one room, open all the windows in that room and try to move it towards the open window. I don’t have windows that open like that. Great.
I gathered up my heavy gardening gloves, a pullover top with a hood and some jeans, grabbed the baby gate and slowly opened the bathroom door. Nothing. I pounded on all the hanging pictures and items in the bathroom but I wasn’t able to get the bat to fly out. I walked back into the bedroom and didn’t see the bat. I was so tired at this time that I figured I must have had a waking nightmare and hallucinated the bat.
In any case, I lay back down in bed to watch TV again—after all, I still had two hours to go before I wanted to check the live trap. I still had “I Love Lucy” on and had just settled down to watch when the bat reappeared. I turned on the light, opened up the door to the balcony off my bedroom and left it open, grabbed the baby gate and tried moving the bat to the open door. Finally, the bat flew out the door. One crisis averted!
I got a drink of water from the marsh next to where I’ve been bedding down. I decided to check all around the garbage cans but I haven’t been able to find much food. Most of the things in the garbage cans appear to be paper items and not food scraps. People must not be eating around here. Actually, there really aren’t many people around here at all. Nobody is here at night. I might try going back to that big building on the other side of the river. There seem to be people there at all hours. Maybe some of them will throw some food scraps out . . .
Finally it was 4:00 am, time to go check the trap. I drove out to the trap and approached it in the dark. I had caught something and it was black and white. Unfortunately it wasn’t Domino but a skunk. Good God, how am I going to get a skunk out of the trap? I thought about calling my ex, but even I’m not mean enough to call up my ex at 4:00 in the morning and ask him to release a skunk. And to be honest, I felt that since Domino had gotten lost on my watch, I needed to do whatever it took to get him back. Nope, it was up to me to figure out how to get that skunk out of the trap.
I raced back home and did an internet search on releasing a skunk from a live trap. Apparently, the trick is to bring several towels to cover the trap in the event the skunk should spray, open the trap door and place a piece of wood to keep the door open and then leave. The skunk will leave on its own once it feels safe. I gathered up 3 towels, my heavy gardening gloves (used with the bat last night) and headed out to release the skunk. By the time I got there, it was daylight and it was impossible to approach the trap without the skunk seeing me. He sprayed before I got close enough to throw the towels over the trap. Yuck, what a stink. I still threw the towels over the trap, raised the door, put the piece of wood in place to keep the door open and went home to take a shower and wash my hair. I’ll bait the trap again after work this afternoon. I hope I don’t clear the room at my two Tuesday workplaces because of the skunk smell!
I continued posting updates on Domino’s disappearance on my Facebook page. Many of my local friends were doing their best to keep an eye out for any sign of Domino. Several of my friends were even biking close to the river in an effort to track him. Updating Domino’s status was one of the things I used to keep my sanity. I was so thrilled with the number of Facebook friends who were trying their best to help me find Domino!
I awoke to the acrid stench of skunk. One of the resident skunks along the river here must have come across something he didn’t like. I’m going to get a drink of water and continue my search for something to eat. I hope I run across something good pretty quick—I really am hungry!
I went to both of my Tuesday bookkeeping jobs. It was hard for me to concentrate because all I could think of was Domino and how frightened he must be. I left my afternoon job about 3:00 and decided to again walk along the river on 3M’s property since I had finally received permission to walk the property on both sides of the river and to set a live trap. I walked down Ranch Avenue almost all the way to the Adams Street bridge. I took pictures of the area with my cell phone so I could send them to Ilga via Facebook. I hoped she would get a better feel of where Domino had been.
I checked the trap and thank heaven the skunk had left the trap. I had to throw away the towels and my tee-shirt because of the skunk stink. I also had to leave my shoes and gloves outside to try and bake the stench out of them in the sun. I put another towel in the trap and some stinky food in hopes of drawing Domino into the trap.
I had decided I needed some sleep so I opted to check the trap at 10:00 and again at 6:00 am. Hopefully there wouldn’t be any more bat sightings and I could get a few hours of sleep. I watched some TV, took a bath, threw my clothes back on and checked the trap. Nothing. Now hopefully I can get some sleep.
I’ve been checking all the garbage cans in the area and haven’t found a whole lot. I did find a fast food bag that someone had tossed away. Inside were a few cold fries and a chicken nugget. Even though this wasn’t as good as my foster mom’s cooking, it still tasted like heaven to me.
I’m still wandering along the river. It is providing me with water and some cool shade from the hot sun. I found a tree branch that had fallen down. There was a nice place for me to curl up under it and get a little sleep.
Yeehaw, I got about 5 hours of sleep last night. I woke up and checked the trap first thing. There was good news and bad news . . .the good news is that I didn’t catch another skunk. The bad news is that I hadn’t caught Domino. Hope dies hard though and I really felt that I was close to where he was hiding.
I got off work at 11:00. I decided to place the second live trap somewhere along the Ranch Avenue area. While I was struggling to get the trap in my car, I received a phone call from PJ and Tim, Domino’s Iowa foster family. They were on their way up from Iowa to lend their hand in helping to find Domino. Wow, I was so impressed with all the help I had received. Tim agreed to help me get the second live trap set up.
Once PJ and Tim arrived, we walked the area where Ilga felt Domino was roaming. We called for him, begging him to show himself. PJ called for Cody to come out in hopes that he would remember his name while he was in her care and remember her voice. We spent several hours walking the area calling for Cody/Domino, but we didn’t have a single sighting. It was so disappointing. At least the second trap was set and hopefully Domino would be hungry enough to walk into the trap if he was within range of the smell of the bait.
I’m positive I heard my foster mom calling for me today. But then I thought I heard my other foster mom call for me using my former name of Cody. I’m so confused. Have I traveled that far that I’m back where I was before? I really want to come out and trust both of my foster moms, but I’m so scared. I just don’t feel that I can really trust anybody yet. Plus I’m feeling kind of dizzy from lack of food. Maybe I made it all up hearing my foster moms calling for me. I just don’t know. I’m so confused! My plan is to drink some water, try to find some scraps of food, and lie down again in the shade of a shrub and try to sleep. I wish I wasn’t so hungry and so confused!
After Tim and PJ left (and bless their hearts for the heroic effort to help find Domino), I decided to run to the local Menards to buy a couple of sign frames for the two signs I had sitting at my house that didn’t have frames. While in Menards I ran into the couple who built my fence. I told them my dogs had escaped my backyard. I had had the fence gates made to automatically close and latch, but the previous winter was so harsh that the gates would not automatically close any more. They agreed to come over and reset the post or do whatever it took to get the gates to close.
Debbie from the spaniel rescue who had brought signs out on Sunday called to say she was coming out this evening to pass out flyers. She needed to know what areas had already received flyers and what areas needed to be canvassed. I gave her a map and told her that I hadn’t done anything in the southwest part of the city. So she set out with flyers in hand to distribute them in the southwest part of town. I grabbed a bunch of flyers and headed out to the trailer park in the northwest part of town where the policeman had called with a sighting of a large black and white sheltie.
The evening was hot and humid and it took every bid of energy I had to walk up and down the streets of the trailer park. But I did it and I stopped and talked to as many people as I could. Those people I did talk to had not seen any loose dogs in the area for weeks, but they agreed to call me if they should see one.
By the time I got back home, Debbie had finished up passing out quite a few flyers and was ready to head home. We talked about lost dogs (she had previously lost a spaniel that she dearly loved) and the use of animal communicators in helping to find lost pets. She also gave me some tips to help others in the continuing search for Domino.
I went out at 10:00 to check both traps and there was nothing in them–again, a good news/bad news situation. I came back home, took a hot bath and went to bed and slept until 6:00 am!
I just know I’m going to find some food today. I have to. I’m so hungry. At least I am able to get water from the river. I found a wild raspberry bush near a marsh area and I grabbed as many of the raspberries as I could reach. The thorns on the raspberry canes were sharp though, so I didn’t push it too much. I ate as many as I could comfortably grab. I decided to head out further south along the river to see what I could find.
I called Ilga in the morning and she said that she keeps getting that Domino is still alive and that he keeps rambling back and forth over the river area by the 3M plant. I felt good that we had the traps in good places to try and lure him in.
I went to work and came home for lunch. I had used my cell phone quite a bit in the morning so I plugged it in to recharge. I grabbed lunch and ran out the door to my afternoon job. When I got to the workplace, I realized I had left my cell phone at home. I hurried through my job tasks and raced home to check my phone. Sure enough—there was a voicemail message from a local number that I didn’t recognize.
The message was from a city of Hutchinson employee who worked at the park maintenance building on Adams Street, just south of the river. He said he had seen Domino dart out of the marsh area fronting the river. He called to him but Domino ran back into the marsh. He then called me. I can’t believe I didn’t have my phone with me because the call came in about 10 minutes after I had left home. By now it was a couple of hours later. I was so thrilled though to have had another Domino sighting and that he was truly still alive. I grabbed Harley and we drove down to the park maintenance building.
Adams Street from the bridge passing over the Crow River south to Airport Road was under construction. The center two lanes were completed and were made of concrete which sat about 8 inches higher than the current shoulders which were down to the dirt at this point. To get to the park building, I carefully drove my car down from the concrete level onto the dirt shoulder and into the parking lot of the park building. Harley and I walked all around the marsh area all the time calling for Domino. Nothing again! Harley is normally a very talkative collie, but I couldn’t get him to make a peep.
Even though we weren’t able to get Domino to come out, I still felt good because we had had a sighting. I decided to go get the second live trap that was over off Ranch Avenue and set it up right by the marsh area. I slowly “climbed” back onto the 8” concrete center lanes of Adams Street, dropped Harley back home and drove over to Ranch Avenue to get the second trap.
I grabbed the trap and hauled it back to my car; however, for some reason my car looked lopsided. Oh well. I threw the trap in the back and started the engine. Once the engine was running, the tire pressure trouble light came on. I got out and looked around the car and sure enough, the right front passenger tire was flat. It must have happened when going down or climbing back up on the concrete lanes of the construction on Adams Street.
Changing a flat tire has never been part of my job description. I called Gary at one of my bookkeeping jobs and asked him if he might be able to come and help me change my flat tire. He came over to help me and had the tire changed in less than 5 minutes. Thank the Lord I have a full size spare tire. I thanked Gary and drove over to my afternoon bookkeeping job, a tire shop. They tested the tire and unfortunately, it wasn’t a puncture that could be repaired. It was a bruise and the tire was beyond repair and I would have to buy a new tire that would have to be ordered and sent out. They tightened the lug nuts on the spare tire and I was on my way again.
This time, I drove up to the construction on Adams Street and just carried the live trap over to the area where I wanted to set it. I put some more stinky food in it along with a towel and another one of Domino’s toys. Everything was ready. Now all Domino had to do was walk into one of the traps.
I had traveled south along the river for a couple of blocks and came to another marsh area. I decided to take a good drink from the marsh water as it was really hot and humid out. The water tasted so good. I saw some garbage cans next to a big building and I decided to see if there might be anything in those garbage cans that would help ease my hunger pangs.
I ran out of the marsh when all of a sudden a guy started calling out “Domino, come here Domino”. Who was that? I was so scared because I didn’t know who this man was. How would he know my name? Obviously it wasn’t safe for me to try and see what was in the garbage cans, so I ran back into the marsh area. Maybe I’ll check them out tonight after all the people go home.
I felt pretty positive that Domino was going to walk into one of the traps in the next day or two. I still had quite a few flyers left that Debbie had brought out last night, so I decided to canvass every house on the other side of the river from Domino’s last sighting, Jefferson Street. Although Debbie had told me to just deliver the flyers, I wanted to knock on people’s doors and ask them to look out for Domino since he had been sighted just across the river from their house. I figured he might try to come up and get into a garbage can or two since I knew he had to be starving by now.
Everything was going well passing out flyers. Many people mentioned that they had seen the signs up about Domino in town and said they would call if they should see him. I was approaching one house that was set back quite a bit from the road. It was just about opposite the river bank from where Domino was seen so I definitely wanted to talk to the owners. I got about halfway down the driveway when 4 dogs came running out at me—two springer/pointer type dogs, one dog that looked like Benji and a Rottweiler. All four were barking but I was so determined to talk to the people that I just kept forging on. The Rottweiler came up behind me and bit me hard on the butt. I couldn’t believe it—the stupid dog actually bit me when all I was doing was walking. Needless to say, I turned around and walked back out. The next door neighbor’s daughter saw it happen and offered me a ride home. I told her thanks but I wanted to finish up handing out flyers. My butt actually felt better the more that I walked.
When I got home I checked the bite in a mirror. I already had a huge (4”) black bruise and the bite had broken the skin in 3 places. Obviously the dogs were confined by invisible fence which I hate. Sorry if I am offending any invisible fence users, but that type of fencing only keeps your dog confined and that’s only if the fence is working. They do have a habit of not functioning. Plus some dogs are willing to take the jolt of electricity to get to the other side if they’re chasing something like a rabbit or squirrel. Invisible fence does nothing to keep out other animals and people. These homeowners are basically a lawsuit waiting to happen. I can only imagine what would happen if a child in the development next door went running on their property to chase a ball.
The dog bite put a damper on the rest of my evening, but I tried to remain hopeful that Domino would be caught soon. I tried to do some animal communication of my own with Domino to NOT go onto that property. Domino would have made a tasty morsel for the Rottweiler if he should be found sneaking on the property. I prayed Domino would not venture to the other side of the river!
I could have sworn I heard my foster mother calling out to me this afternoon. But how could she be down here? I don’t think I’m near my foster home at all. At least, it doesn’t seem like I’m near my foster home. I’m so confused and scared. A stray big dog chased me last night and I ran with all the energy I had left. I hid under some logs that had piled up on the river. I really want to go home but I’m just not sure that the person calling me was my foster mom. It could have been the guy I saw this morning trying to trick me. I think I’ll just lay low for most of the day and try to check out the garbage cans tonight when no one is around.
I got up at midnight and at 5:00 am to check the traps. I caught nothing! Again, it was a good news/bad news situation. No skunk caught, but no Domino either. I just knew he had to be close by but I didn’t know how to draw him out.
I came back home after checking the traps early this morning and decided to lounge around in bed listening to the KQ morning show. I didn’t have to be anywhere until 10:00 when the singing group I’m in had a scheduled practice for an upcoming gig. I was nodding off a little while listening to the radio when my phone rang about 7:30am. The caller was another employee of the City of Hutchinson park department and he had just seen Domino pop out of the marsh behind the park maintenance building but on the other side of the fence, closer to the armory. I thanked him for the call, grabbed Harley again and made the 5-minute drive to the building in 3 minutes.
Harley and I walked all around the marsh again while I called for Domino to come out. We walked almost a mile south on the dirt road that parallels the river, all the while calling for him. I still couldn’t get him to come out. I decided to head back home and reset the traps. I called the Sheltie Rescue to tell them that we had had another Domino sighting, but I still couldn’t get him to come out of hiding. Estelle told me that I would probably have better luck getting Domino with the traps. Just as she said that, I happened to glance back at the marsh area. Right at that moment, Domino popped out of the marsh like a bat out of hell. I told Estelle I saw him and I would call her back. Harley and I ran back down to the marsh area.
By the time Harley and I got back down there, Domino had gone back into the tall reeds of the marsh. I called for him to come out for 5 minutes but he wouldn’t come out. I know he heard me so he must have been too frightened to feel comfortable coming out of the shadows of the tall grass. I decided to sit down in the grass and just wait and see if Domino would resurface. Harley was still on leash but he wandered around me in a circle. Just as I was about to give up on Domino being able to overcome his fear of people, he darted back out into the open about 15 feet away from me. I was so excited to see him I called to him in a quiet voice. He stopped, looked at me, looked totally startled and then saw Harley and bounded over to Harley with his tail wagging. I still couldn’t get him to come near me but I just let him have fun with Harley.
I continued to call him to me and he would come close, but not close enough for me to grab him. I finally decided to lie down in the grass. I called Harley over to me and Domino followed him. I continued to talk to Domino in a quiet voice, telling him how much I had missed him and how glad I was to see him. After a couple of minutes of me lying prone on the grass and Harley and Domino moving around me, Domino finally came up by my face, sat down and let out a huge sigh. I scooped him up in my arms and thus ended Domino’s big adventure!
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came out of the tall grass and saw my buddy Harley there. I know my foster mom was there too and she was calling for me to come to her. I know it was her but I still felt scared. So I just jumped and sniffed and played with Harley for a few minutes. After awhile my foster mom laid down in the grass. She kept calling out to me in a soft voice. I really wanted to come closer to her. I know freedom is a great thing, but for a little dog like me, living on my own and trying to find food is just too hard. I decided to finally let my guard down and come sit by my foster mom. As soon as I did she swept me up into her arms and started kissing my head all over. She carried me in her arms all the way to her car with Harley walking next to us. On the drive home, I didn’t want to leave her lap. I was so glad to be home again!
The minute I got home with Domino I called Estelle and told her the wonderful news. We both were crying and feeling joyous over Domino’s return home. I brought Domino into the house and he was happily reunited with Shelby, Collin and Mario. I think all of them were happy to see him—well, all of them except Mario. Estelle told me to bring Domino into the vet for a check and to ask them to run blood tests and check for signs in case he had gotten into any rat poison—something another lost sheltie had gotten into while roaming in an industrial part of town.
The vet’s office told me to bring him right over and they would “work on him” while I was at rehearsal. I have never sung with more joy than I did this Friday morning after finding Domino. My heart was so overjoyed and grateful that I had this little dog back home! I picked up Domino after rehearsal and got the news that he seemed none the worse for wear from his adventure other than losing about 3 pounds—3 pounds on Domino is a lot but I knew I could get him back in shape in no time. One thing I had asked my vet to do was to check his vision to see if there might be any impairment in his right eye. Sure enough, the vet said he appeared to have a cataract-like film over his right eye. He has vision in that eye, but it’s probably very cloudy and he probably can’t see things until they’re right there in front of him. Maybe this could account for some of Domino’s shyness and timidity.
I called Estelle once I was back home from the vet’s office with Domino and gave her the news. I also told her that I had decided to adopt Domino—I didn’t want this wonderful little dog to build up trust with me and then have to go to another family and start over again as far as trust goes. I had missed Domino so much that I really wanted him to be a permanent fixture in my life. Estelle and Karen asked me to hold off on the adoption until I could bring Domino in to see Dr. Olivero, a canine ophthalmologist. The rescue wanted to pay for any surgery so that Domino could have the best chance at having a good life. The way this group stepped up to the plate in helping to find Domino and now in paying for a possible eye surgery, I can’t imagine working with a more caring group of people. Both Domino and I are lucky to be involved with them.
Once I got home from the vet’s office, I called the police department, the local animal shelter and Ilga to give them the wonderful news of Domino’s return home. I also posted the news on Facebook to let my friends know that he had been found. Everything around the house seemed to go back to normal again with Domino home. The tension that I had been feeling the past six days just melted away and all of the dogs ran out and played in the back yard together as if no time had passed at all!
I can’t begin to describe how good my foster mom’s home cooked meal tasted that night nor how good the fresh, cool tap water tasted. I am so glad that I felt the courage to let my guard down and go up to my foster mom. She says she’s going to adopt me and I’ll never have to leave her or my brothers and sister. Mom is going to take me to an obedience class starting in October and she has made a couple of agility jumps for me to jump over. It’s so much fun. I feel like I’m getting braver and braver all the time. I now come (most of the time) when mom calls me and I love sleeping under the bed at night or right next to my best friend, Shelby. I really missed all the dogs—even Mario, who is still jealous of me. But I’m hoping to break down any barriers that exist between Mario and me. And while mom still walks me with two collars and two leashes on, I know that eventually she’ll see that she can trust me just like I trust her. Life is good!
STEPS FOR FINDING A LOST DOG
I am so grateful that I had the MN Sheltie Rescue to support me in finding Domino. They are a class group and were totally helpful while pushing me to do things that I hadn’t thought of or maybe necessarily wanted to do. Again, kudos goes to the MN Sheltie Rescue and all of the volunteers who helped in Domino’s search.
The following steps to finding a lost dog were compiled by Darla Duffey of the Jacksonville Sheltie Rescue.
Most important is to “get the word out” on foot to every household in the area. Not everyone gets a newspaper, nor do they read the LOST ads. If there are signs out, attention is drawn to the fact that there is a lost sheltie. On any posters/notices/ads place the information that the dog is microchipped or tattooed (hopefully they are). I had one returned almost immediately after I added that. The dog we believe had been “removed” from its yard unwillingly and when it was know that the dog could be positively identified even at a later date, it was returned. Could help. Do large posters 14X21 in very bold print, that could be seen by a passing vehicle, with a telephone number of someone immediately available to check out a sighting. Make it brief, no long explanations on why the dog got loose, etc. No small size signs. You want someone driving by to be able to see the phone number easily, so that if they spot the dog they could call from a cell phone. Put “PLEASE DO NOT CHASE!” on your signs, as a chased sheltie will run like the wind! Try writing big red letters on poster “BELOVED Child’s PET.” Maybe you’ll tug at someone’s heartstrings if they think the dog belongs to a child. We all have this feeling of sadness and helplessness. People almost always will try to help a lost “sheltie”…say “sheltie” on your advertising mode, but also in smaller print say “miniature collie”…because some people are NOT smart enough to know what a sheltie is. We care not about semantics at this point in time, call it a miniature collie! POSTER ATTACHED……. we use two 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper, one on the top and one on the bottom with a picture of the dog in the middle. We cover the whole poster with clear “Contact” shelf paper. This makes the poster waterproof and it’ll last for weeks. Another option instead of handing out flyers. This day in the age of computers it is easy to do your own business cards. I make up cards with the dog’s picture, the date lost, where lost, phone numbers … and hand those out to children, people out walking their dogs, running, riding bikes etc. Sometimes they throw away flyers, where they’ll keep a business card. Always put a phone number on the card where someone is there all the time. Talk to the local delivery people, mail men, oil companies, electric companies and ask them to keep an eye out for the dog, give them one of those business cards with the dogs picture on it. Seek out every child in the neighborhood (kids always know where the dogs are on the street) and give them a flyer or business card with your number. Post one at the school and play grounds. If someone in this category helps you find the dog, it is nice to give a reward, no matter how small. Then if somebody happens to see a dog they “will” pay attention. If this dog was a timid dog to begin with…he will be hiding, petrified. When hunger finally overtakes fear, he will venture out of his hiding place. That is when the mass notification of the whole area will pay off. Hopefully, somebody will see him and call a phone number from a sign or one of those business cards. At that point somebody needs to GO, right then… because the dog is going have fear overtake hunger and go back to hiding somewhere. Most times a humane trap is a very good idea. If you find the area she is in get a humane trap to that location. You will put food and her toys and something with your scent on it, inside the trap. Do NOT
try to chase her…. our experience is she will not wait to see who it is…she will just run. The passive way to recover is with the trap. If you have a decent Animal Control they may loan you one if you have a sighting. Some of us have purchased our own traps. Place clothing, toys, and food in the trap and give it time. Check the trap frequently to release any captured critters that you didn’t want to capture, like cats, raccoons, etc. Keep a list of everyone who calls with a sighting and a phone number so that if you get to that place of the sighting and can’t figure out what they said, you can call them back and maybe they can meet you there and tell you which way she was headed, etc. Get a map of the area (Mapquest) and mark the sightings on the map…. When someone calls with a sighting, you must go NOW, not hours later…Dogs, especially shelties, do not meander around the same place usually, they seem to be “going” somewhere. Either back to their hideout or a new hideout. If you get sightings don’t chase him, you’ll just chase him out of the area. Try to keep him comfortably in the area he is spotted in. Find a place to feed him, so that he feels he can comfortably come back to that spot for food…and then try to beg, borrow or steal a humane trap. Because he is a sheltie he isn’t going to go to a stranger to start with, and with his mind set now EVERYBODY is a stranger. The only way you are going to get him is if he happened to run into somebody’s yard and gets cornered, or he goes into a trap. Lost shelties are in “flight” mode. If you think they will come to you when you call them, that has not been my experience. They see a human or a dog and they are gone. They don’t wait to see who it is. Don’t take a dog with you looking. That has not worked for me ever. The dog is now scared to death… he is in flight mode. IF he did see you he would not hang around to see who it was, he would take off running to find a place to hide. When he finds a hideout, it may take several days for him to get comfortable enough to come out… THAT’s why you get the large signs out and flyers or business cards to a lesser extent. I think the big signs get to way more people than you can cover with flyers. When he gets hungry and starts to venture out to look for food…people will call… then you do putting the food out and setting the trap. Be diligent in your search… Don’t think he will come home on his own. Sometimes they do, but you cannot take a chance. Make sure everyone knows this dog is being searched for and continually be seen “searching” so if anyone does have the dog, they know you are not going to give up and go away! If you are thinking someone “has” the dog, because there have been no sightings…Two things. As you are driving around looking…Tape one of those large posters to the back of your vehicle, so everywhere you go, “people” know “somebody” is still looking for this dog, as is not going “to just go away!” Also, if you suspect the dog may have been stolen, state that the dog is microchipped. If its a bitch, state that she is spayed. Some put “NEEDS MEDICATION” in large print on their flyers and posters. And if at all possible, offer as large a reward as you can afford. Words of advice from a dog officer – make sure you keep calling dog officers (I believe you MUST physically check the Animal Control facility and Humane Society yourself. Do not leave the decision as to whether a dog in the ‘jail’ is a Border Collie, Aussie, or a Sheltie up to an inexperienced $1.95 shelter worker, (JMHO) and vets to check – yes you’ll drive them crazy, but better safe than sorry. Most importantly – lost dogs do not usually range. They usually stick to one particular area, might be 3 miles in diameter. Now, she might have traveled a couple miles before she got to that area, or she might be around the corner, but odds are if she’s loose (and not stolen) that she’s either with someone, or she’s staked out an area.
For every day that passes that you don’t have any calls with sightings, put new signs out approximately 1 mile in each direction. Make sure to look for her at her regular meal times. This seems to bring frightened/lost dogs out of hiding, being the creatures of habit that they are. Rule of thumb, though – expand by one mile in each direction for every day she’s been missing, and call all ACOs, shelters and vets in those areas. Mail flyers to all local vets (within 30 minutes driving distance) Create “drop zones” where you can leave food and an article of your clothing so that if she runs across it, she will stay with your scent. We successfully found one of my own dogs that I had recently placed when she escaped her new owners and couldn’t be caught. We had reports of her in an area, left a shirt there, and there she stayed until caught (she was terrified and wouldn’t go near her new owners). If possible (and she’s used to it) leave her crate outside, too. Since I spend a good part of my day looking for lost dogs, I can tell you, they are really easy to miss. They can be five feet away and you’ll miss them, but they are creatures of habit, and even when lost, they stick to a routine. When you are on foot searching you need to think like a dog. What does she like? Which direction would she be most likely to head? Is there another house/yard in the neighborhood similar to yours? She might be there. If she’s crossed a street, she might have a visual barrier preventing her (in her mind) from returning. Follow the lay of the land – which way would you be most likely to go if you were she? Take the path of least resistance. If you come to an area where there is a drainage ditch, or railroad tracks, or high power lines… that is like a highway! Walk it and “quietly” look for the dog. Do not take a chance on scaring her out of the area. BUT DO NOT GIVE UP! It is perseverance that gets the dog! Good Luck!
I want to add a couple of other steps that I found invaluable in helping to find Domino. First is to call in an animal communicator. I knew Ilga previously and I was very confident in her skills. Not all animal communicators are good at lost animal cases. Ask around for referrals. Ilga’s communications were spot on throughout the whole time Domino was lost. I would highly recommend contacting an animal communicator to help narrow down where the dog is located.
Second, take advantage of the internet and more specifically, Facebook, to get the word out to people and very quickly. Ask your friends to repost the information about your lost dog on their wall and request it be reposted. You can quickly reach a large number of people who will keep their eyes open for your dog. Domino had quite a following of “friends on Facebook” who waited everyday for the update on his status. I have had people come up to me in the past couple of weeks that had seen my Facebook posting on a friend of a friend’s wall. Through Facebook you can exponentially reach a large number of people.
If your budget will allow it, use an automated call service just as the Sheltie rescue did. They used Findtoto.com to make the calls. Every listed number within a certain radius is called and I had quite a few people mention to me that they had received the call. Again, this is a quick way to get the word out about your lost dog.
I hope you never have to use these tips, but if your dog should become lost, these steps will help to bring him or her back to you quicker. Try to remain positive and envision your dog back at home in your loving care. Best of luck!