Missing Dog, A Rollercoaster of Emotions - Part 1
It was Tuesday, December 14, we receive a call from a gentleman telling us the dog his elderly uncle adopted ran away from home. He was asked “When did she run away?” His response, “December 2.” Disbelieve had consumed my mind, followed closely behind by anger. To this man’s defense, he had been searching for the dog himself, but if we had known sooner than we could have helped and she would be safe by now.
A little background on the dog named Iree. Iree was brought to the shelter as an unwanted dog at 7 years of age. A mixed breed, most would call beautiful. She was extremely shy and to gain her trust took great patience. So imagine how frightening it was to know this shy, scared girl was running loose in Maine in December in a much wooded area of the State. December, when temperatures could range anywhere from 10 to 40 degrees; we needed to find this girl. Knowing we were Iree’s biggest allies, we jumped into action. Posters were created and distributed; information was spread by word of mouth and posted on social media sites.
Word spread rapidly and calls poured in with sightings of our sweet Iree. The majority of sightings were 14 miles west of her adoptive home. Excitement was in the air, search parties were formed, we just might find her. Day after day we looked for Iree. We were discouraged that we had no personal sightings of her; only the good Samaritans had seen her in yards, behind restaurants, trotting down a busy road, hanging around a boat marina – where a mangy looking fox was often seen. These big hearted Samaritans used delicious food and gentle voices to try to coax Iree, but she would have nothing to do with them, after all they were strangers and shy dogs do not trust strangers. If only one of us could spot her and she would see a familiar face, that is what we kept praying for.
As time went on, we were told that she may not recognize us anymore – she was becoming “feral.” We still hung on to the hope that she would not forget us. Iree was a resident at the shelter for a couple months. In those months, she received attention, exercise and, most of all, love. She had created a strong bond with her chosen few.
As of December 25, we had not received any calls for three days; no new information, no new sightings. Our hearts were sinking with fear that something terrible had happened to her. Finally a call came in telling us she had been at the boat marina regularly for a few days. The employees had been sharing their pizza with her. Iree had been eating pretty well, pizza at the marina and steak and chicken at the restaurant…what a life. But the weather was not so good. Temperatures below freezing, light snow one day, freezing rain another. We needed to find her. A humane trap was placed at the restaurant and another placed at the marina.
We took turns baiting and watching the traps, but still our very smart Iree managed to eat the trail of crumbs leading to the trap, but never entered. We were getting frustrated, but we were not going to stop trying. As I spoke to a gentleman on the phone who worked at the marina, Iree walked passed his window. I lived 45 minutes away, which was also very frustrating. I could never drive to a location in time to see her. She was already gone when we arrived – frustrating indeed.
On December 27, two of us drove up to check the traps and talk to folks in the area. I decided I would sit at the marina all day just so I could possible get a glimpse of Iree. Hours went by, no luck. We decided to check the trap one more time, and then head home for the day. My heart was heavy. The forecast was not good, a storm was due to hit the area that night, strong winds and freezing rain.
We talked to one another as we approached the trap, we tried to keep things light, and we laughed about silly things only shelter workers would find amusing. As we got closer, I realized the pizza trail to the trap was gone and before I could speak, we heard, woof woof! Through the trees, about 200 yards away stood sweet Iree, watching us.
Immediately we lowered ourselves to look less threatening. I spoke to her as I often did back at the shelter, back at a time when she knew who I was. Hundreds of thoughts were running through my head; will she remember me, should I move towards her, will she come close enough to catch her? She came closer and closer with a look of suspicion on her face. She stopped. I was on my knees now in the snow, almost crawling towards her with one hand extended, still speaking in the “baby” voice she was always comfortable with. Then, it happened. She trotted into my arms. I was filled with happiness and disbelieve. We had finally found her. All this time she was simply waiting for a familiar face. Waiting for us to find her and bring her home. To the only home where she received the love she deserved…the shelter.