We Could Not Stop Searching
We continued to drive the 600 miles back and forth whenever our work schedules and home lives would allow, each time searching during the day and sitting up at night, listening for signs of Star. We kept using the dog pen and live trap. We started putting out stuffed toys with his littermates’ scent on them. It was now August and we needed something more, but what?
An internet search turned up a device used to catch large animals with no harm done. The device was a net launcher. We called the manufacturer, told them our story, and they told us it would work. But we needed to be within 30 ft of Star and have fairly good aim. We ordered the launcher, did some practice shots on a very large stuffed dog and off to Illinois we went with renewed hope. We spent five nights sitting in various locations waiting to hear the jingle of Star’s collar. We hoped that we were near a path he traveled. It was so dark at night, the saying “I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face”¯ couldn’t have been more true. On our last night, we finally saw a ghostly figure move across the top of the bluff. We could faintly make out the shape of a dog and the faint glow of Star’s blonde fur. We aimed the net launcher and waited for him to come closer. He stopped 20 ft from us, eating the food we put out. We shot the net and hit the target. But — yes there is a but — the net did not completely capture Star. He was able to stumble and run. We could hear him stumbling, but in the darkness we couldn’t locate him. We had flashlights, but where to point them? By the time we zeroed in on him, he escaped from the net and all we were left with was a tangled and torn net. We suddenly realized that we had never heard the jingle of his collar. Star could now travel around silently. Again we went home unsuccessful.
Next we tried hunting cameras. A friend had three cameras we could borrow. We immediately drove to set up the cameras. We located them around the area. It was from those cameras that we were able to establish a pattern of Star’s travels. We spent the rest of August and part of September sitting up at night with the net launcher, hoping for another chance. We spent our days walking the area and trying to keep from thinking of all the “what ifs.”¯
Winter Was Coming…
It was now the end of September and summer was coming to an end. A sense of urgency overwhelmed us. Could Star survive the winter out here living in the wooded ravines next the lake? It became harder to ignore the ”what ifs.” We continued our efforts to capture Star with the dog pen and the net launcher. When it became too cold to sleep in the tent and sit out at night, we thought we had lost. But remember the sympathetic retired couple that had allowed us to use their property? They now offered us a warm bed to sleep in so we could continue our efforts to bring Star home. They also offered to put food out for him every night.
In late November, we had to temporarily suspend our efforts to capture Star. But at least we knew he would have a food source. We left 80 lbs of dry dog food and three cases of canned food for the retired couple to put out for Star. We did make day trips to Illinois to view the pictures from the hunting cameras. As long as we had at least one picture of Star, we knew he was still alive. We could still have hope.
We continued to search for new ideas on keeping tabs on Star’s activities and how to safely capture him. In January, we went to Illinois with a new idea. It was still too cold to sit out at night and the day trips to check the hunting cameras were costly and time consuming. We went to ask permission of the retired couple to install cameras on their property. The cameras could be viewed live over the internet. They also were equipped with night vision and motion sensors. They were all for it. They wanted Star to be captured as badly as we did. With this new technology, we watched Star make the same trek across the retired couples’ property every night. We could breathe easier, knowing he was still alive and we hadn’t missed our chance to bring him home.
Page 3: Success at long last? >>
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