By April Hakaim of Golden Treasures Golden Retriever Rescue in Cleveland, Ohio
Our local humane society knew that because the litter of seven puppies was unsocialized, living in a lean-to shed in the backyard, the chances of them getting adopted through their shelter were slim. So, they asked us to help. We took in the litter and mom. All puppies were vetted, along with mom, and everyone went into foster homes for socialization and the beginning of training. After several weeks, the puppies made great progress with socialization and were placed in forever homes.
One of those forever homes was a couple who lived in Illinois. Although we don’t place dogs out of the state of Ohio on a regular basis, we do make exceptions when the homes meet our standards and we feel we have a good match. Based on that, the family made the trip here to Ohio, bringing their other dog with them to meet Star. Everyone seemed to agree this was a good match and Star went to his new home in Illinois. As the family pulled into the driveway at the end of their 4+ hour drive, they opened the door and Star bolted out. That was in June 2011.
Once our rescue learned that Star was missing, this amazing story began. Two of our members made the drive up to Illinois in an effort to locate the dog. His new family had been putting food out and had gotten glimpses of him now and then, so we knew he was still in the area. We first contacted the local humane society and dog warden. We then brought Star’s mother to the area, in an attempt to lure him to us. We spent two days walking the area with his mother. We only caught a brief glimpse of him in one of the ravines. We went home unsuccessful and trying to figure out what to do next.
We were able to rent a property next to a big ravine. There were no accomodations on this property, so we bought a tent and some camping supplies. The area was rural and most houses were used as weekend homes.
We then bought a live trap and traveled to Illinois every five days staying for 3-4 days at a time. We did this for the next four weeks so we could set the live trap. We soon discovered Star only came out at night. So our days were spent knocking on the doors of all the houses within two miles of where he had escaped and walking the beach and ravines looking for signs that he was still in the area. Our nights were spent in the tent, listening for the jingle of the tags on Star’s collar or the door of the live trap closing. We heard the jingle of Star’s collar several nights, but he never went into the live trap. The only thing we caught was wildlife.
Then we had a special portable dog pen constructed. It had a one way door. We again brought Star’s mother (Roxy) and also one of his brothers (Benson) to Illinois with us. We thought the familiar scent of the only family he knew would draw him out. It was July by this time and we had to endure swarms of biting flys and high temperatures during the day. During the morning, we walked Roxy and Benson throughout the area.
In the afternoon, when the flies and temperatures became too much, we found relief in the lake. At night, the cool breeze from the lake cooled things down into the 60s. We put Roxy and Benson in the dog pen in the evenings, hoping Star would come by and go through that one-way door to reunite with his family. The pen was within ten feet of our tent, so we could hear when Star would come by. Sure enough, the jingle of the tags on Star’s collar alerted us to his presence. His mother and brother began to whine. We froze still with excitement that this just might work. But after four days, we again went home empty-handed.
We talked to several dog behaviorist and vets to get advice, opinions, ideas. We did a mass mailing, enclosing a ”Lost” poster with Star’s picture and a posted reward of $1,000 to all nearby residents and local veterinarians.
Page 2: The search for Star continues, and winter approaches >>
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