Bernese Mountain Dog
One of Missing Pet Partnership’s most challenging cases has been the effort to locate and capture a missing dog named Sophie, a 7-month old Bernese Mountain Dog who slipped out of her collar and bolted in a state of panic in Federal Way, Washington. Missing Pet Partnership (MPP) volunteers became involved in the attempted recovery and quickly discovered that this was an opportunity for our organization to learn about panicked dog behaviors while also working to develop innovative skittish-dog-recovery techniques. Under normal conditions we could never spend this long (seven weeks!) on one investigation, but we turned down other search requests and focused all our attention on bringing this one dog back home in order to develop a protocol on how to capture xenophobic, skittish dogs. Our recovery efforts were often hampered because MPP did not have the equipment that we needed. (Help MPP recover more lost dogs by visiting our Wish List page or click on the “Make a Donation” PayPal link at the top of this page). During this investigation we videotaped and logged invaluable information that MPP will ultimately pass on (through our Web site and training program) to other shelters, rescue groups, and lost pet search-and-rescue teams who face the challenge of capturing a skittish, fearful dog. Here’s how it all went down:
Fri June 27th, 2008 – While on a walk with family, Sophie became panicked, pulled back, slipped out of her collar, and took off running. Her family launched a campaign to search the local shelters, post over 300 flyers, and scour the area on foot.
Sat July 5th, 2008 – Sophie managed to make it through a series of thunder storms plus 4th of July fireworks. Amazingly, she didn’t end up running for miles like many dogs do. By this time, she’d been missing for 2 weeks when her guardian, Mike, contacted Missing Pet Partnership (MPP) for assistance. This was at the Kent Animal Shelter where MPP set up a booth and handed out free florescent posters and advice to people who had lost or found a dog. MPP gave Mike giant florescent posters to help in the recovery.
Sun July 6th, 2008 – Mike and his wife Jennifer received confirmed sightings of Sophie on Dash Point Road, five miles from the original escape point. He expanded the area where he placed his posters and continued to look for his dog.
Tues July 8th, 2008 – Mike received a positive sighting of Sophie at Camp Kilworth, a secluded Boy Scout Camp off of Dash Point Road. He walked the area all day but did not find Sophie. I (MPP Founder Kat Albrecht) contacted Jennifer and asked her if she wanted assistance in searching for Sophie. The TV program Evening Magazine was going to be filming a segment about Kat and wanted to come along on a search for a lost dog. Jennifer agreed, but commented that even if they found Sophie they did not know how to catch her.
Weds July 9th, 2008 – MPP volunteer Pam O’Brien and I responded to Camp Kilworth with Ky, a magnet dog, and a Snappy Snare in hopes of encountering Sophie and capturing her. We did not find Sophie. Instead, we set up a feeding station next to a wagon and canoe (in the camp parking lot) where Sophie was spotted. We set food down and connected a surveillance camera to a TV/VCR that we set up inside a small Admin building at the camp. The camp host called Mike at 6:00 p.m. to say that Sophie was just there eating the food! Sophie’s presence was confirmed at 1:00 a.m. when she was caught on tape eating the food.
Thurs July 10th, 2008 – I contacted the Kent Animal Shelter and asked if they could get assistance from an Animal Control Officer and borrow a humane trap. She was advised that an officer was not available, but MPP was welcome to borrow the humane dog trap. Kat Albrecht and volunteer Ann Huss set up and baited the humane dog trap (covered with Sophie’s own blankets) to capture Sophie. Sophie did not appear that evening.
Fri July 11th, 2008 – Sophie reappeared and circled the parking lot at the Boy Scout Camp at 11:00 p.m. but did not go near the trap. She also showed up on Friday July 12th around the same time. MPP volunteers were not available to assist, but Mike and his family staked out the parking lot.
Sun July 13th, 2008 – Sophie walked within 10 feet of Mike at around 2:30 a.m. Mike said her name and Sophie stopped and looked, but wandered off. Sophie still did not enter the trap.
Mon July 14th, 2008 – Jennifer called Kat Albrecht and asked if they could borrow the Snappy Snare. Kat delivered it to Mike and that night he tried to entice Sophie to come to him when she showed up at 12:30 a.m. But Sophie ignored Mike and then bolted into the woods.
Tues July 15th, 2008 – Mike’s wife Jennifer joined Mike when Sophie showed up at 11:30 p.m. Jennifer called Sophie and used a flashlight, but Sophie bolted and ran off into the woods.
Weds July 16th, 2008 – MPP volunteers Kat Albrecht and Ann Huss responded with magnet dog Maverick and a Snappy Snare. They waited, but Sophie did not show up. The area was filled with Boy Scouts and it we feared that Sophie had moved out of the area.
Thurs July 17th, 2008 – Albrecht, Huss, and Maverick returned and this time Sophie showed up at midnight. She was not interested in Maverick-the-magnet dog (who growled at Sophie because he was afraid), but she showed intense interest in new bait. The new bait was Hills Prescription Diet A/D.
Fri July 18th, 2008 – Albrecht and MPP volunteer Brian Newsham met with Mike. The humane trap was set up again (it had not been used for several days because of Boy Scouts present at the camp) and baited with the A/D food. Sophie ate the dab of A/D left outside the trap, but she would NOT go anywhere near the humane trap. MPP volunteer Pam O’Brien put in a phone call to the Department of Fish & Game to see if they could assist with trapping.
Sat July 19th, 2008 – Mike and his family took a much needed vacation while MPP volunteers took over surveillance and trapping efforts. Volunteers (Kat Albrecht, Brian Newsham, and Theresa Klein) put bait out just to encourage and condition Sophie to return readily to the same spot for easy food. A total of 4 small cans of food were placed (along with a bucket of water) on a large piece of cardboard. Sophie showed up within ten minutes and ate all of the food! When she was finished, we went outside (she went back into the woods), put new food out, and timed her return. It only took her 4 minutes to return for the rest of the food. She clearly has no fear when only food is put down.
Sun July 20th, 2008 – We decided to re-introduce the trap to the mix. We also added a new Infrared lighting system that enhanced our nanny cam filming and enabled us to see Sophie’s behavior at the trap more clearly. Our plan was not to trap her tonight, but to condition her to enter the trap for food. We used bungee cords to keep the trap door open and placed food outside and leading into the trap. We managed to get her to come up to the trap, but we watched in dismay as she reacted negatively to the trap door above her head. For 90 minutes she continued to hesitate and balk because of the door above her head. She never could get past that fear. We realized that even if we obtained a larger dog trap, we would never be able to humanely trap this dog!
Mon July 21st, 2008 – We switched to a new plan (this was now plan “F”). We decided that we’d use a portable (6′ X 6′) chain link dog run that we’d entice her to enter (through conditioning). Eventually, we would tie a rope to the door and pull it closed behind her. To prepare for this, we erected two collapsible exercise pens (X-pens) to simulate the approximate size of the dog run. We baited her (at 9:30 p.m.) so she would enter the opening and get used to entering the enclosure. We set up the nanny cam and observed her. She arrived at 9:55 p.m. and ate the pre-bait (that we set out 10 feet away and out of the view of our camera). But she never came near the X-pens and was clearly afraid of them. At 10:40 p.m., we removed the X-pens and placed the bait down on the ground (on cardboard) as we had done previously. This time, she had nothing above her head-no humane trap and no walls (from the X-pen) on her sides. She readily came up at 10:53 p.m. and ate all of the food. Well, except that she tried to pick up a sardine we placed there but it got stuck to the paper bag. It took Sophie until 11:10 p.m. before she worked up the nerve to take that fish! Sophie is very reactive, pausing fearfully and looking around for any movement whatsoever.
Tonight Ann Huss joined us for the Sophie Stakeout. Ann left her dog Maverick at home but showed up dressed in black with plans to sit outside and see if Sophie would be afraid of her, thinking perhaps she could throw a throw net and capture Sophie. Instead, we all stayed in the Admin building and watched Sophie on the TV monitor. Once we saw Sophie’s wary behavior on tape, Ann realized there was no way Sophie was going to come anywhere near a stationary human!
Tues July 22nd, 2008 – We switched to yet another plan today. We can’t afford the expensive ($4,750.00) drop net trap (video available at http://wildlifecapture.com/Drop-Net_1.html). We contacted a national Bernese Mountain Dog club and a local (Greater Seattle area) Bernese Mountain Dog club thinking we could appeal for donations (to buy the drop net) and get more volunteers. We received no response. Since we doubt that we can raise the money to buy the drop net in a timely manner, we decided to make our own. We plan to use our pop-up tent frame (without the canvas top) and a net, magnets, and remote control. I called the Department of Fish & Wildlife and asked to speak to an officer experienced in using drop nets to capture deer. We just need guidance in what type of net to use (fishing net, sporting net, etc.). I was told a Sergeant Chandler would call her back.
Meanwhile, back at Camp Kilworth, at 9:30 p.m. we put up the pop-up tent frame and worked to get Sophie to come underneath it. We put up the tent and put bait under it, but forgot to pre-bait with food outside of the tent. We heard Sophie in the area, but she did not come under the tent. At 10:20 p.m., we put pre-bait outside the tent area and moved the pile of food closer to the edge where she had previously come close to. At 11:59 p.m., Sophie’s nose entered the picture. She ate the pre-bait, but was hesitant to come to the pile of food under the tent frame. At 12:20, we moved the bait closer to the edge (about 1 foot in) and left, hoping she would work up her nerve and eat the food. We left and the food was gone the following day.
Weds July 23rd, 2008 – I called the Department of Fish & Wildlife a second time and left a voice mail message but no one returned the call. I returned the humane trap to the Kent Shelter and met with Sgt. John Diel. I explained the operation and asked if the Kent Shelter could provide an ACO on the night of the attempted capture since our volunteers are not trained to handle panicked, potentially fear biting dogs. Sgt. Diel said most certainly they would have an ACO flex their hours and work with us. I was given the phone numbers for two sergeants to call.
We arrived early at the Boy Scout Camp (7:15 p.m.) for a drop net construction planning meeting and guess who showed up…Sophie! Yeah, you announce that you’ll provide pizza and everyone shows up! She stood on the ledge above us, in broad daylight, and watched as we talked. But as soon as volunteer Dianna called and whistled for her, Sophie took off. This is typical of skittish, xenophobic dogs where anyone calling them, whistling, or paying direct attention (eye contact) will spook them. But we knew she’d come back, and she did! We switched from cardboard squares to small paper plates to hold the bait (canned A/D, pizza crust, and Alpo). We put a dab of food on a pre-bait plate 3 feet outside of the tent zone. Inside the tent zone, we filled 3 plates full of food – one was 1 foot inside and the other two were a few more feet further in. We want to make Sophie comfortable with coming under the tent. At 8:50 p.m. Sophie was at the pre-bait and the 1st plate, but then she left. At 9:25 p.m., one volunteer left (drove off) and ten minutes later (9:35 p.m.), Sophie came down again. She seems to do that a lot – as soon as a car leaves, she comes down thinking everyone is gone. At 9:41 p.m., Sophie ate the food from the 3rd plate. There was noise (from children at house nearby) but Sophie did not seem disturbed by it. At 9:56 p.m., Sophie took her first bite from the 4th plate. By 10:01 p.m., Sophie cleaned the 4th plate and left. Volunteers stayed until 10:50 p.m. but Sophie had not returned, so they left. Sophie seems acutely aware of the tent frame and new infrared light above her but doesn’t seem to pay any attention to the nearby cars or the camcorder that is placed behind a car. We hope to have the net constructed and Sophie conditioned to going under the net by early next week.
Thurs July 24th, 2008 – We got the net today – yeah! Ann Huss was able to purchase two black marine fishing nets which she sewed together. Teresa and I used clamps to suspend the net at the top of the pop-up tent (above the food plates).
The complicating factor was that there was a Girl Scout sleep over event and when we arrived at 9:00 p.m. the parking lot was filled with cars and sounds of screaming girls could be heard a short distance away. But, we reasoned, Sophie had not been affected previously by human noises (including a week of yelling sounds from the week-long Boy Scout event) and she seems more visually reactive than sound reactive. We set our bait out at 9:45 p.m. with a pre-bait plate 4 feet away from the net and three plates set further under the net. At 9:55 p.m., Sophie ate the pre-bait from the plate. She backed up, but immediately came and ate all the food from plate #2. She stood there and began to advance towards plate #3 when she stepped on leaves which caused her to spin and bolt in a panic. She did not return.
At 10:50 p.m. we went out and put out more bait (filling the empty plate and putting more pre-bait out) and made clanging noises with the food cans (something we’ve done each time to cue her that food was being set out). By 11:15 p.m., Sophie had not returned, so we went and moved all the plates closer to her comfort zone (the pre-bait plate) and we heard her move in the woods above us. She had been up there all along. She was likely satiated enough (because she has been getting food each night) but just spooked by that incident and by all the cars in the lot. We’re hopeful that once the Girl Scouts leave (today) and things calm down, we can condition her to consistently come under the net for the food. We’re hopeful that the magnets will arrive by Monday, that we can test the drop system then, and perhaps set up a trap next week.
Fri July 25th, 2008 – We baited 4 plates (1 pre-bait, 3 baited halfway under the net) at 9:40 p.m. By 9:50 p.m., she was eating at the first plate. Jennifer parked her car next to the net with the back door open and a pile of Mediterranean chicken (garlic smell) in hopes that Sophie might jump into the car (like she used to). Sophie noticed the car, but never advanced towards it or the food. By 9:59 p.m. (within 9 minutes) she had eaten all three plates under the net. She has been looking up fearfully, so we wonder if the IR light above the net is affecting her. The final plate was untouched until she returned at 10:01 p.m. and stole the first plate. At 10:05 p.m. she stole the 2nd plate. We unplugged the IR light before she stole the 3rd plate and she did not look up, so we want to test with the IR light off. At 10:20 p.m. we re-baited two more plates under the net and left, knowing she would eventually return and eat them.
Sat July 26th, 2008 – At 8:30 p.m. we arrived to find a woman (Gina) sitting in the parking lot with her Bernese Mountain Dog. She had heard about Sophie being lost and wanted to help. Her two kids were moving around up in the woods following Sophie. The kids found Sophie’s bedding (paper plates up there near a log), walked through it and encountered Sophie twice. Sophie watched the kids but did not run. When the boy walked towards her, Sophie turned and walked off. Our fear was that Sophie would be spooked from the area (since we had never ventured into her bedding area). We checked the bait from last night and it was gone and Sophie had drunk water as well. We unplugged the IR camera to test whether or not Sophie would be reactive/fearful at something above her while under the net.
At 9:35 p.m., we baited 4 plates (1 pre-bait, 3 under the net – the last plate placed towards the parking lot) with fish, chicken, and Alpo. At 9:50 p.m. we could hear Sophie licking the pre-bait plate (Whew! She was back!). At 9:54 p.m. Sophie ate from the first plate under the net. At 9:55 p.m. she stole the first plate. At 9:56 p.m. she ate from plate #2 and then stole it. At 9:58 p.m. she ate from the last plate, but only took one gulp before getting too scared. She keeps looking up (even without the IR light on), takes a bite, runs back, but seems to recover quite quickly. At 10:00 she also sniffed the ground where the #2 plate had been, spending a few moments under the net which is a great sign. At 10:01 p.m. the camp host was in the parking lot making noise and Sophie left (still food left on the last plate).
Sun July 27th, 2008 – At 9:00 p.m. we arrived and changed the water and removed the leaves from the net (they were casting a shadow on the ground). We moved the plates up closer to the edge (towards parking lot) and placed the pre-bait under the net (just out of camera view). We baited at 9:30 p.m. with 1 can of A/D (placed on 4 plates) – chicken and fish. We cut back on the amount of food. She ate the pre-bait at 10:00 p.m. She ate the 2nd plate at 10:01. She ate the 3rd plate at 10:02 p.m. and stole the plate. She ate from the last plate at 10:03 p.m. and then scooted off. She came back and ate at the last plate again at 10:10 p.m. and stole the 3rd plate. She returned at approximately 10:12 p.m. but scared herself and ran off. We could hear her at 10:35 p.m. but she did not come under the net again. We left at 10:45 p.m. Oh, but during this night’s stakeout we had an interesting guest. A spider managed to work its way up to the camera and began spinning a web while Sophie dined. You could see the spider along with its glowing reflection caused by the Infrared. It didn’t take much to entertain our crew!
Mon July 28th, 2008 – We arrived at 7:00 p.m. and spent time adjusting the net. The magnets had not arrived, so we worked instead on lowering the net (by dropping the aluminum frame). We hope to lower it even further over the next few days by using clamps to support it. We invited Gina, the woman with the Bernese Mountain Dogs (who had showed up on Saturday), to come back again with both of her dogs. Gina believes that using her Bernese Mountain Dogs as bait will lure Sophie in. I’ve had enough experience at this to know that while some dogs will respond to magnet dogs, some won’t. My assessment is that Sophie is not dog-reactive enough to respond to any dog (Bernese Mountain Dog or any other breed), but we were willing to give it a shot! This is a learning experience for all involved and we must try everything we can to capture Sophie.
We moved our nanny camera to a new position so we could see Sophie as she arrived, while also seeing the two bait dogs (Maddie and Abby). At 9:30 p.m. as it turned dark, the kids sat down with their backs to where Sophie would enter and both Maddie and Abby were kept on 6-foot-long leads. I opened a can of dog food, put a small amount on a pre-bait plate (outside of the tent area), and made the clanging noise with the can that I normally make each night. At 10:15 p.m., Maddy alerted to sounds in the woods and we heard twigs snap. At 10:25. p.m. I went outside and made bait noise by tapping the dog can lid to the can (same sound I make when I bait the plates). Maddie and Abby barked when I went down there (it was pitch dark). The kids confirmed they heard Sophie up in the woods directly above them. By 10:45 p.m., Sophie had not come down. We released the Bernese family to see whether or not Sophie would come down and how long it would take. Gina and the kids asked if they could wait in their car (with their dogs) and watch; we said yes.
We baited the plates (all 4 under the net) at 10:55 p.m. By 11:26 p.m. Sophie had not showed up. We knew that sometimes Sophie comes down right after a vehicle leaves, so we went outside (and heard Sophie in the woods right above us) and asked Gina to leave. We felt that Sophie was just not coming down because of her dog’s presence. Gina drove off at 11:30 p.m. and Sophie appeared at 11:40 p.m. and immediately ate from the first plate (directly under the net). She licked the plate clean, turned and moved away. She returned at 11:41 p.m. and ate from the 2nd plate – she looked up a few times, but did not run. At 11:42 p.m. she ate from the 3rd plate, stayed under the net, looked up twice, but doesn’t seem as freaked. She did turn and walk away but turned and came back and at 11:43 p.m. she backed away. At 11:45 p.m., she came up to net, looked at it several times, sneaked up towards the 4th plate but scared herself off. Advanced towards it again, licked the 2nd plate, and finished the 3rd plate. At 11:54 p.m. she returned and by 11:55 p.m. she was eating from the 4th plate. At midnight, Sophie stole the 1st plate. At 12:01 a.m. she stole the 2nd plate. By 12:02 p.m. we were tired enough that we didn’t care whether she ate from the last plate so we spooked her off and figured she’d come and eat (and steal) the last plate after we left. The true test of Sophie’s reaction to the presence of the other dogs in the area will be known tomorrow in timing how quickly she comes down to eat the baited plates.
Tues July 29th, 2008 – Our volunteers did not respond to the Sophie stakeout tonight because MPP had a volunteer meeting. Instead, Mike spent time out there and here’s what he observed: Mike arrived at 9:00 p.m. and lowered the net by 1 ½ feet. Mike and his daughter Emily were viewing the previous nights tape when Sophie came down at 9:25 p.m. Mike baited four plates at 9:33 p.m. Sophie came down at 9:43 p.m. and looked up at the net. At 9:47 p.m. she ate off the first plate and stole it. At 9:50 p.m. she ate off the second plate and the third plate and took plate #2 up the hill. Moments later, she returned and finished the forth plate and then stole it. At 9:55 p.m., she returned again looking for more plates but there were none.
Weds July 30th, 2008 – We arrived at 7:00 p.m. and began working on the net and magnets. We learned that Sophie had spent part of the day today in the parking lot near the ranger’s house. Sophie even plopped down on the lawn of the admin building (where we station ourselves with the TV monitor and watch Sophie’s movements). Reportedly, Sophie even saved the life of a baby bird today. It was being stalked by evil crows and Sophie scared off the crows and stood panting by the helpless baby bird. So Sophie isn’t a “stray,” she’s a hero! (BTW, we confirmed the story about the baby bird because it was there when we were setting up the magnets and net).
We proceeded to set up six magnets and wired them in series and connected them to eight 6 volt batteries kept in a small cardboard box (which, frankly, looked like a bomb).
We lowered the pop-up aluminum frame by about a foot by using black double-sticking tape to prevent the frame from slipping. The magnets held a small metal plate with a hook that held up the net. We had some technical problems with the net being too big and we struggled with finding the right placement and the right amount to leave hanging so it would not scare Sophie. We also had electrical connection concerns and decided that rather than risk the net not functioning, we would wait until tomorrow night. We clamped the net to the frame (with its lowered position) and baited the plates at 9:55 p.m. Sophie came under the net at 10:08 p.m., still looking up, but she went directly to the plate and ate from the first plate (and stole it). She returned at 10:09 p.m. and grabbed the second plate (without licking it). She returned again at 10:11 p.m. and same thing – grabbed the plate with the food on it and ran. The final plate was stuck at the far end of the frame and is the final place we want her to end up when we drop the net. She came back for the final plate at 10:13 p.m., licked the plate but then grabbed it and ran. She was under the net long enough that we feel we’ll be able to capture her. At 10:16 p.m. she came back under the net when there were no plates or food under there. She came back again at 10:19 p.m. and wandered around under the net. At 10:26 p.m. she returned again, sniffed under the net and left.
We’re going to spend the time tomorrow preparing the net system to make sure it won’t fail. We’re going to use three loose plates (with a small amount of food) but the last food pile will be on a paper plate staked into the ground. We will smear the mushy dog food on that plate so that she will be stalled there, focused on licking it (and unable to remove it). When she is at the plate, we will pull the plug (the wire on the battery) which will drop the net. Our volunteers will be in their vehicles ready to bolt over to her once we’ve dropped the net. We also have a giant flood light hooked up that will be plugged in immediately to illuminate the area so we are not working in the dark. We’re finally ready to catch her.
Thurs July 31st, 2008 – Of all days, it was raining when we arrived. Okay, this IS Seattle, but come on! It wasn’t pouring rain, but a steady rain that was enough to get everything and everyone wet. We baited 4 plates at 9:21 p.m. At 9:28 p.m. she stole the 1st plate with food on it. At 9:30 p.m., she was too fearful of the net (it was lower than it had been before) and she wouldn’t go any further under it. At 9:35 p.m. she was at the net again but spooked. At 9:45 p.m., we raised the net (1 foot), repositioned the bait, and clanked the cans. At 9:50 p.m. she returned to the side of the hill, looking fearful at the net. At 10:10 p.m. we re-baited and moved the plate to the edge (closer to the backwoods) and added more food. We had someone drive off (Mike’s father-in-law) and clanged the cans. At 10:25 p.m. we had Jim move his truck (he had been parked right close to the net) so that he was now across the parking lot. It continued to rain at a moderate level, and everything we tried did not work. Sophie returned to the net at 10:31 p.m. and acted afraid and was still fearful at 10:50 p.m., so we called it off, realizing that for whatever reason, she was not going to go under the net. Due to scheduling problems, we decided that Mike would work for the next three nights to bait Sophie to come under the net again and we would return on Monday with our team of volunteers.
Fri August 1st, 2008 – Mike took over baiting Sophie while our volunteers took the next few days off. We weren’t sure how Sophie would do with the net because of the previous night’s experience. Mike arrived at 8:45 p.m. and Sophie came out at 8:55 p.m. He called her but she stalled and went back up into the woods. Mike baited 4 plates at 9:15 p.m. Sophie arrived at 9:30 p.m. and took the 1st plate. At 9:35 p.m. she took the 2nd plate and entered from the side but exited through the back. At 9:40 p.m. she took the 3rd plate and was cautious about the area under the net. At 9:48 p.m. she took the last plate – same behavior (looking up anxiously at the net) and then left.
Sat August 2nd, 2008 – Mike arrived at 5:30 p.m. to fix some broken steps in front of the Admin building (the building we sit in and conduct our surveillance by watching the TV monitor). There were very noisy kids in the camp today. Sophie sat and watched Mike for 15 minutes and Mike talked with her, but when a car drove by, she went up the hill. Mike baited at 8:50 p.m. and nailed down the 4th plate. At 9:00 p.m. she came down. Jennifer sat 15 feet from the tent, wrapped in a blanket. Sophie saw Jennifer and barked at her. Jennifer continued to talk to Sophie and she kept barking nonstop until she moved (15 minutes later). At 9:15 p.m. Mike clanked the cans and Jennifer went inside the Admin building. At 9:43 p.m., Sophie showed up and took the 1st plate. At 9:46 p.m. Sophie took the 2nd plate and at 9:50 p.m. she took the 3rd plate. At 9:52 p.m. she tried to take the 4th plate but it was nailed down and she couldn’t remove it, so she stayed and ate. Mike said there would have been plenty of time to drop the net.
Sun August 3rd, 2008 – Mike arrived at 8:50 p.m. and lowered the net by 5 inches. At 9:05 p.m. he baited 4 plates and nailed down the 3rd and 4th plates. At 9:07 p.m., Sophie arrived and took the first plate. At 9:09 p.m. she took the 2nd plate. At 9:10 p.m. she whined and wandered around the net area. She was clearly frustrated on how to get to the last two plates. She went around to the parking lot side and tried to eat from the plates. She was frustrated by the lowered height of the net but she ultimately came back for the 3rd and 4th plates by accessing them from the parking lot side. At 9:40 p.m. Mike pulled the nails from the last 2 plates and Sophie showed up immediately and took both plates. By 9:55 p.m., there were no signs of Sophie or any plates!
Mon August 4th, 2008 – This was the day. Our volunteers (Brian Newsham, Theresa Klein, Dianna Stacy, Ann Huss, Jim Branson, and I) were ready. Our equipment was ready. Sophie was ready. I sat inside the Admin building along with Ann Huss and Jennifer (Sophie’s Mom) while Mike, Brian, Theresa, Dianna, and Jim all stayed outside in vehicles, ready to assist with the capture. I had radio communication with Brian and Theresa and on my signal, based on what I saw on the TV monitor, I would decide when Brian would pull the wire from the battery pack for the net to drop. We baited four plates at 9:31 p.m. and nailed plates #3 and #4 to the ground. We used mushy, canned dog food on the plates so Sophie would be delayed and have to lick the bait, something that would slow her down. At 9:40 p.m., Sophie arrived and stole the first plate. At 9:41 p.m., she stole the 2nd plate. At 9:45 p.m., she was hesitant to come all the way under the net and kept looking up, but this was normal behavior for her. At 9:50 p.m., she finally came up to the 3rd plate (which was nailed down so she couldn’t steal it) and she began to eat. She was in position and we were ready. I gave the signal “Now!” on the radio. Brian pulled the wire, the net fell directly on top of Sophie and it was text book. But what happened next was not. Sophie ran but the net did not tangle her up. It was on her back and when she hit the tiny gully directly behind the net at the base of the steep hill, the net hung up on twigs and slipped right off of her. Sophie got away. We were crushed.
Initially, our thought was that the net had failed and we needed to switch to drugging Sophie. However, after much group discussion and a complete analysis of the video, we realized a flaw in the design system of our net. We spent 45 minutes discussing various options and ultimately we decided to add two new components to the net system. First, attach strings to tent stakes so when the net falls on her, it will be staked into the ground; and when she hits the net at a run, the net won’t go with her – it will stop her forward movement. Second, set up a second net system similar to a wall that will lay flat on the ground but be pulled up into the air by using a pin and sand bag. This will be a secondary barrier that she would run into should the first net not hold her.
Now you’re probably thinking like we initially did – that she will never go back under that net. But you have to think outside of the box, just as we have during this entire operation. Sophie is hungry and her only food and water source have come from under that net. We are betting that Sophie will come back under the net in a few days once she is hungry enough. We are willing to try the net system again, because we have watched her behavior enough to know this dog. There are major risks involved with drugging her, so that will be the last resort. As long as we still have her conditioned to come under the net for food, it is worth spending the next few days (or perhaps another week) working on our patience and seeing if improvements to the net system can bring this dog home.
Many people continue to offer useful advice and we are considering all of it. But the bottom line is that we are patient, determined, and committed to getting this dog back home. We aren’t going anywhere, and if we’ve learned anything about Sophie over this past month, we know that she won’t be going anywhere either!
Tue August 5th, 2008 – We arrived at 8:00 p.m. and began working on improving the net. First off, Mike said he stuck around last night until midnight and after we all drove off, she showed up and went under the net and stole two plates! Whooo hooo! As we hoped, Sophie was not terribly traumatized by the net falling. I think we stand a good chance of catching her if we can work out the bugs with our drop net.
We placed two 6′ tall rebar poles and a new 20-foot section of net that will be used as a vertical extending net barrier (VENB). We laid the VENB flat on the ground just south of the drop net (at the base of the woods where Sophie enters) so that Sophie would get used to walking over it. We also strung a dog-tie-out cable with an eye hook on each end through the back (south) portion of the net and attached both eye hooks to two u-nails pounded into the ground. Then we attached two thin black cords to the other (north) end of the net and attached them to u-nails pounded into the ground. The net was now suspended in the air but also secured to the ground so that it can’t be dragged off. We did not hook up the batteries; just clamped the net to the frame. We won’t be ready to drop the net until Sophie has had a few days to come under the frame again.
We baited 5 plates at 9:29 p.m. (plates 3 and 4 nailed down). By 10:11 we had only faintly and occasionally heard movement in the woods. We decided to move the VENB net so it was off to the side and she didn’t need to walk over it. Mike clanged the cans and we went back inside. We heard movement at 10:50 p.m. but she never showed up at the net. We left at 11:10 p.m. but Mike agreed to stick around to see if she showed up after we left.
Weds August 6th, 2008 – I (and the MPP volunteers) took a much needed night off from Sophie. We needed a day to regroup and develop a new plan. Mike told me that he stuck around last night and apparently Sophie showed up after we left and stole two plates but left the last one. So on Wednesday while working alone, Mike baited 4 plates but Sophie never showed up while he was here. Mike left at around 11:00 p.m. and Sophie still had not appeared under the net. This was pretty discouraging news.
Thurs August 7th, 2008 – When Theresa arrived at 8:15 p.m. Sophie was on the ledge above the net watching her. Sophie watched Theresa and then slowly walked away and then disappeared. There was only one plate left, an indication that at some point Sophie came back under the net last night and grabbed three plates. We discussed starting all over by building a different net system – one where the net would lay flat on the ground with a system of ropes and PVC pipe such that when Sophie stepped on it, the net would be pulled up around her. That suggestion was put on hold until we gave more time to the current drop net system because it was pointed out that Sophie has been coming back under the net to get plates lately (even after the net dropped on her). We went ahead and set out the VENB net flat on the ground to the right of the drop net to get Sophie used to it being there (in case we do end up switching to a different net system).
We baited 4 plates at 9:21 p.m. By 9:45 p.m. there had been no Sophie movement. We noticed that since Monday (when the net dropped on her) Sophie has not approached the net until after our vehicles were gone from the area. At 9:48 p.m. we had Ann Huss move her vehicle, thinking a car leaving the area would trigger Sophie’s return. At 9:55 p.m., Mike radioed that he heard movement. At 10:00 p.m. Mike saw Sophie poke her head around the corner near the drop net. At 10:19 p.m. we saw her in the woods behind the net. At 10:20 p.m. she stole the first plate. Shortly thereafter, we heard her leave and she did not return.
Sophie has likely become conditioned to waiting until after we leave before she gets the food from the plates under the net. We unknowingly have rewarded her for not coming under the net because if she waits long enough, we leave and she gets the food. No more! We decided that we will no longer leave plates of food after we leave and that Mike won’t stick around after we leave. Thus the only time the bait will be out there is while we are all here. Like I said before, we are learning from all of our mistakes!
We also discussed feeding Sophie in the daytime to see if she is less spooked and comes down to eat under the net starting at around 5:00 p.m. This switch to daylight feeding will also allow us to drug her if we decide to go that route. So we will try daylight feeding and baiting under the drop net and if that doesn’t work, we will go in another direction. Mike agreed to come tomorrow (Friday) night around 6:00 p.m. to feed and monitor her activity. We pulled all the food and plates and left at 10:50 p.m.
The responses from others about our failed net dropping attempt from last Monday have been interesting. Some want us to stop our efforts – end the madness. Although it has been very discouraging, you have to realize that this is a learning process. Mistakes in life are not necessarily bad. When things are difficult and life is hard, those are often the best opportunities to learn, to exercise patience, and to become creative. While we are all very tired and we want to capture Sophie, there are many variables involved and we are testing out concepts to perfect this system. Our next drop date is going to be complicated because we’ve decided that we will not attempt a capture unless we have both a veterinarian AND an animal control officer present. Ultimately, coordinating schedules (with the vet and ACO) with the exact date/time that we’re ready for a capture could end up being more difficult than the capture process itself!
Fri August 8th, 2008 – Mike arrived at 6:40 p.m. and Sophie was on the hill above the tent. He baited the plates at 6:43 p.m. with an anti-anxiety pill on the first plate called “amitriptyline.” She arrived at 6:46 p.m. and stole the first plate. She came right back at 6:48 p.m. and took the 2nd plate without hesitation. She came back again but did not go for plates #3 and #4. She showed interest in plate #3 but was hesitant and not willing to come to the plate. At 6:57 p.m. she was pacing on the hill. Mike ultimately moved the plates closer to the hill at 7:15 p.m. and at 7:45 p.m. she came down and took the plate. At 8:10 p.m. she scared herself and ran up the hill. At 8:48 p.m. Mike left and pulled the last plates.
Sat August 9th, 2008 – We arrived at 7:45 p.m. Mike was here and said that Sophie was on the ledge when he arrived. Mike also received three phone calls today from area residents that Sophie has been hanging around houses in the area. She was sighted at 9:00 a.m., 10:40 a.m., and 4:00 p.m. There was even a sighting by a compost pile in someone’s yard. This is an indication that Sophie is looking for food elsewhere, probably since we’ve been removing plates (not leaving food behind when we leave). Along to observe this night were MAR students (attending our pet detective academy) Jim Branson, Carmel Travis, Barrie McKnight, Brian Newsham, and Carol Sarte. It was raining off and on, although it was not raining when we arrived. We baited three plates at 8:00 p.m. By 8:15 p.m. Mike clanged the cans because there was no movement. At 8:22 p.m. Mike saw Sophie by the boat area. At 8:25 p.m. we caught Sophie on tape above the net, but she never came down.
Sun August 10th, 2008 – MPP volunteers did not participate this evening (due to our training academy). Mike and Jennifer arrived at 6:35 p.m. and Sophie was up on the hill. Jennifer talked with Sophie for a few minutes and Sophie didn’t walk away right away, but did eventually. Mike baited at 6:45 p.m. At 7:00 p.m., Mike clanked the cans. Sophie never showed up. Mike and Jennifer left at approximately 9:00 p.m. without seeing Sophie again.
Mon August 11th, 2008 – Gina, the woman with Bernese Mountain Dogs, called Mike and said that she had lost her young Bernese Mountain Dog Abby (one of the dogs she brought out to the Sophie stakeout) here in Federal Way off of Dash Point Road. Good grief! What is it about Bernese Mountain Dogs getting lost in Federal Way? Gina said she had enough search assistance with her Bernese Mountain Dog Club, so we continued to focus all our efforts on catching Sophie.
We arrived at 7:00 p.m. (with five of our MAR students). We discussed procedural options. We realized that feeding in daylight is not working and we need to switch to feeding at dark (9:00 p.m. or after). One suggestion was to set up a snare on the trail (we checked into purchasing a device called the “Collarum”) but no one had experience with this technique. Sophie has stopped coming down for food and we’re worried! We’ve lost the consistency of her coming down shortly after we bait and we’re concerned that she might be looking for food elsewhere. If this happens, she is at risk of being hit by a car on Dash Point Road. It’s been a week now since we dropped the net and the farthest she has come under the net has been to the 2nd plate (while we’re here). We’re concerned that we won’t be able to get her to come under the net again – or that it will take several weeks. We’re considering drugging her (with baited food) and going up into the woods to get her. However, there is a great risk in this, especially since she isn’t coming for food in the daylight so we’d need to drug her food at night. We are just running out of options. We left at 8:15 p.m. but Mike and Jennifer stayed behind. Jennifer left at 8:48 p.m. At around 10:00 p.m. Sophie wandered by the Admin building and the parking lot. She never came down for food.
Tues August 12th, 2008 – The plates left over Monday night were gone. Mike and Jennifer arrived at 8:40 p.m. and Sophie was up the hill. At 9:15 p.m., Sophie came out of bushes and was by the Admin building. She finally took the first plate at 9:27 p.m. She came down six to seven times to get the #2 plate but was still skittish with the net. At 10:00 p.m. Mike moved the plates closer (no longer under the net) up the hill. At 10:08 p.m. she took the second plate. Mike left shortly after that.
Weds August 13th, 2008 – We decided to move forward with drugging Sophie. There are many risks involved with drugging a hard-to-capture dog. The dog could fall into water, become attacked by predators, or wander off into traffic. But we are running out of options and out of time. Sophie could come into heat at any time. She might start looking for food elsewhere and get hit by a car. She is staying close to the camp and coming down for food, so perhaps we could take advantage of that by doping her food and keep her in the immediate area until she is drugged. Drugging a dog is the last resort and it should only be attempted under the direction supervision of both a veterinarian and animal control officer. I would never recommend drugging a dog, but we feel we are out of options.
I talked with Dr. Driscoll (from Twin Lakes Veterinary Hospital) today and showed her the video clips of Sophie’s behavior. She is going to research the best drug to use and will also talk with Sergeant Couvion from the King County Animal Control about this procedure. We will be coordinating schedules and potentially attempting a drug-capture this Saturday evening. Dr. Driscoll felt that the drugs would take effect within an hour and that Sophie would be knocked out.
We arrived at 8:30 p.m. and decided to move the net and tent frame about 25 feet away to see if we could facilitate a quicker response from Sophie. At 9:05 p.m. we baited four plates and clanged the cans. It wasn’t long before there was movement, but it wasn’t Sophie! After leaving bait out for nearly six weeks we had our first intruder – a hungry mouse! He made several zippy trips to the plate and back to the trailer. I can only hope that when we get ready to drug the food that Sophie will get to the doggy-dope before the mouse does.
Sophie didn’t show up for an hour. We realized that she doesn’t come to the net for food as quickly since we switched to daylight feeding and started giving her the anti-anxiety drug. Mike went and dug the pill out of the food just in case her not coming down for food was caused by the medication. At 10:15 p.m. Sophie finally showed up (and the mouse left). She stayed there (in the gulley just beyond where the net used to be) even when a neighbor was moving his garbage cans. At 10:17 p.m. she arrived and grabbed the first plate. At 10:20 p.m. she returned for the 2nd plate. At 10:23 p.m. she took the 3rd plate. At 10:30 p.m., Jennifer left and drove off. Sophie returned at 10:35 p.m. but did not venture out towards the last plate, showing more hesitation. She came back again at 10:40 p.m. but was too skittish to come to the last plate. We left at 10:45 p.m.
I should note that during a conversation with Jennifer, Mike’s wife, she joked that perhaps it was time to just shoot Sophie in the foot in order to get her back home. Note to self: You know it’s time to switch tactics to drugging the dog when the owner starts talking about getting a gun!
Thurs August 14th, 2008 – Mike arrived at 7:15 p.m. and investigated the trail system. In addition to finding a ton of paper plates (some intact, most shredded) along the trails, Mike found a very probable area where
Sophie has been bedding down – a den next to a log. He encountered Sophie while up there but she just turned and walked away. I had created several “Lost Dog Recovery Operation” flyers which explained that we would be out in the woods attempting to capture Sophie on Friday evening. Mike distributed these flyers to all of the residents at the top of the hill south of the wooded area. If Sophie escaped from the woods, this was the neighborhood where she would end up.
Ann Huss and I arrived at 8:45 p.m. and went into the cabin at 9:05 p.m. At 9:12 p.m. Sophie showed up before we had even put food out! Mike baited four plates at 9:20 p.m. and clanged the cans. Sophie showed up two minutes later at 9:22 p.m. and stole the 1st plate. She came down again at 9:25 p.m. and took the second plate. She was looking fearful and looking up again. She returned at 9:26 p.m. and stole plate #3. She showed up again at 9:30 p.m. but wasn’t going for the plate. She came back down at 9:39 p.m. (obviously not too scared) and at 9:55 p.m., she came and stole the last plate. Sophie is certainly coming down right away to eat at night. We are pretty confident that tomorrows doping will be quick and easy. Then again, we were pretty confident that our drop net would do the trick. Where is my faith?
Fri August 15th, 2008 – 11:00 a.m. – It’s not even noon yet, but I just had to blog. I was thinking about our recovery operation scheduled for tonight when it suddenly occurred to me just why we will be successful at capturing Sophie tonight.
Our biggest concern with drugging Sophie was that we would drug her and then not be able to find her. But I realized that we don’t have anything to worry about if we apply the principles of the search probability theory and understand Sophie’s behavioral patterns. We know that Sophie spends her time on the trails above the camp. We know that she has a den area next to a fallen log. And we know the exact trail system that she uses because of the massive number of paper plates she has dropped along the trails. So although Sophie could go anywhere up in the woods, the trails and her den are where she is most likely to go. This is the principle of “search probability theory,” something we teach our pet detectives in our Missing Animal Response course.
I also realized that the paper plates that Sophie grabbed from under the net and dropped along the trails are a reflection of her behavior. These Hansel-and-Gretel-breadcrumb-like trail of plates are an obvious indication of the route that Sophie typically travels, especially right after she has eaten. I didn’t realize it at the time, but using paper plates with a skittish dog that carries them off is a great way to determine just where the dog goes after eating. If we follow the paper plate trail (evidence) along the trail system (high probability search area), it is highly probable that we will find Sophie. Finding and capturing Sophie won’t be a matter of blind luck – it will be because we use search theory and we understand Sophie’s patterns of behavior.
Fri August 15th, 2008 – 8:00 p.m. – We were ready. Our volunteers staged in the Lifeway Church parking lot on Dash Point Road at 8:00 p.m. We left most cars parked at the church and had shuttled all searchers to the camp by 8:15 p.m. As the Incident Commander, I held a briefing where I assigned teams and issued radios. Everyone was given a team number, a specific assignment, and a detailed map of the route they were to take. We operated on the assumption that Sophie would take the bait, we’d wait one hour, and then we’d go out into the woods to find her.
By 9:15 p.m. both Dr. Driscoll (Twin Lakes Vet) and Sgt. Couvion (King County Animal Care & Control) had arrived. At 9:29 p.m. we baited Sophie with 4 plates. At 9:31 p.m. Sophie arrived and stole plate #1 which was baited with a mixture of Acepromazine (50mg) and Valium (10 mg), administered under the supervision of Dr. Driscoll. The drugs would work better if she only had a small amount of food in her stomach, so the remaining plates were only smeared with a dab of food. Sophie came back and took plate #2 at 9:33 p.m., plate #3 at 9:35 p.m. and plate #4 at 9:36 p.m. Over the next 90 minutes Mike put out 4 plates at a time and Sophie would come down, grab the plate, go up to the ledge, and come back down for another plate. We continued to do this over and over again in hopes that the drugs would take affect and she’d go down right in that area. This would facilitate an easy capture without our having to travel up the steep hill to search for her in the woods. It was 10:16 p.m. when we first noticed signs that Sophie was on drugs. She dropped her apprehension at the plates, spent a few minutes sniffing around, was wobbly and moved slowly. By 10:47 p.m. she was low to the ground, unsteady, staying near the trailer, and close to going down. At 11:02 p.m., it appeared that Sophie was laying down just behind the feeding station area. At 11:20 p.m. we saw that the reflection of her eyes was gone. We figured she was asleep and it was time to make our move.
The only problem was that we had to change our strategy at the last minute. We had initially assigned teams with a “search-and-recovery” operation in mind. But now that Sophie was laying on the ground next to the parking lot, there was no need to use “search strategy.” We immediately developed a plan to set up a perimeter, assigning teams as follows: Team #1 Mike Sabrowsky and Aaron Davis were to head south to cut off Sophie if she headed towards her den; Team #2 Pam O’Brien, Ann Huss, and Dianna Stacy were to stage to the east of Sophie in case she ran that direction. Team #3 Sgt. Couvion, Jim Branson, Dr. Driscoll, and Carin Pavlinchak were to walk directly toward Sophie from the parking lot and act as the apprehension team. Team #4 Brian & Marie Newsham were to stage towards the west end of the trail to cut Sophie off if she went west. (Also assisting with other duties were Meagan Davis, Carol Haag, and Claudia Mizukami) The plan was that everyone would get into place, radio in that they were ready, and once I knew that the perimeter was set, I would give the signal, “Now!” and everyone would turn on their spotlights, move in, and capture a groggy dog.
Yeah, well, it didn’t quite go like that!
Although Jim Branson got into place right away, the rest of the apprehension team (Sgt. Couvion, Dr. Driscoll, and Carin Pavlinchak) got separated. As the other teams were getting into place they snapped some twigs. Jim Branson immediately heard Sophie on the move so he turned on his spotlight and the chase was on! He was without a radio, so once I saw him moving in I radioed in to everyone else to “Move in now!” but it was too late. Sophie was heading west through the woods, but thankfully Brian Newsham saw her and cut her off. Both Brian and Jim began climbing a very steep, sandy embankment after Sophie but neither of them could radio in their status or location, adding to the radio communication problems! Brian followed behind Sophie heading south and Jim ultimately cut through the woods until he reached the open backyard of a house located at the top of the hill. Jim stepped onto the lawn shown his light and saw Sophie near a wooden fence on the other side of the lawn. Sophie made an effort to jump up and over the tall fence, but as she fell back, Jim was able to grab her! Jim carried Sophie back down the hill and handed her over to Mike when they reached the parking lot.
Mike brought Sophie into the Admin building where Dr. Driscoll was able to check her condition. Seeing Mike and Jennifer crying over their puppy was an amazing experience for us all to see! I will never forget the sight of Mike holding Sophie in his lap – a suitable reward for someone who had remained committed and refused to give up hope on recovering his lost dog. We celebrated with cake (it was Brian and Marie’s 5th Wedding Anniversary) and champagne – a toast to Sophie, a toast to Missing Pet Partnership, and a toast to Brian and Marie. It was midnight and we were exhausted. Mike and Jennifer transported Sophie to Twin Lakes Vet where Dr. Driscoll set her up in an isolation ward where she could sleep off the heavy drugs. We were all on cloud nine.
Epilogue – Our volunteers returned to Camp Kilworth on Sunday August 17th to break down our surveillance equipment, the drop net, and pick up over 100 paper plates scattered throughout the woods. Mike and Jennifer showed up and brought Sophie with them. It was amazing to see her acting like a normal, calm dog! Jennifer said Sophie seems like a different dog – very clingy and bonded now after just two days of being home. Both Mike and Jennifer are committed to socializing Sophie and plan to take extensive precautions to make certain she never gets loose again. They are now using a martingale collar so that when Sophie pulls back she won’t be able to pull out of her collar.
On a personal note, I can’t help but see the parallel between the Sophie Stakeout and the development of Missing Pet Partnership. For eleven years I’ve struggled to develop the concept of community-based lost pet services. In spite of all the roadblocks (i.e. a lack of funding, the loss of my job, the death of my search dog, the events of September 11, 2001, etc.) that I encountered, I refused to give up on my dream. Instead, I was committed and I persistently believed in my dream. This was how Mike and Jennifer were with Sophie. They were committed and they were persistent. As long as they were not ready to give up on Sophie, neither were the dedicated volunteers from Missing Pet Partnership!
We live in a society that gives up too easily on things. We give up on our relationships, on our dreams, and sometimes even on life. Pioneering a new concept and founding a nonprofit organization, especially in today’s economy, is difficult work. So is catching a skittish, stubborn dog like Sophie. Speaking of which, I just learned that Abby, the other Bernese Mountain Dog lost in Federal Way, was sighted at 3:00 a.m. this morning. I left a message with Gina, Abby’s owner, with some ideas on how Missing Pet Partnership can help bring Abby home. Here we go again!
*** UPDATE: *** Abby was located the next day! She had traveled 5 miles, evaded capture for 8 days, and was ultimately captured by Gina’s friend who used, as Gina suggested, another Bernese Mountain Dog to lure her in. Alls well that ends well!
Kat & Dogs
Kathy “Kat” Albrecht
Missing Pet Partnership
Now you can watch the Sophie Story after it was featured on the Seattle TV Show Evening Magazine.
Cosmo – Bernese Mountain Dog
**UPDATE** On 9/24/08, Missing Pet Partnership was contacted by the owner of Cosmo, a skittish male Bernese Mountain Dog who pulled out of his collar while tied to a table at a Starbucks at University Mall near NE 45th St & 25th Ave NE in Seattle (across from the University of Washington). For the past week, Cosmo has been sighted near Ravenna Park and near the Calvary Cemetary (35th Ave NE & NE 52nd St). Missing Pet Partnership plans to conduct an intersection alert on Saturday 9/27/08 on NE 45th Street to generate leads on sightings. If you live near the University and have seen Cosmo (pictured right), please immediately call his owner Deb at (phone number removed). DO NOT attempt to approach Cosmo as he is very freaked out! If you can call Deb with his location and hang back, she will keep you on the phone and attempt to get there to calm him and capture him. Missing Pet Partnership will work with Deb as best we can, but our resources (and funding) are so limited right now that we can no longer offer the level of service that we used to capture Sophie. Please visit our wish list page and consider making a donation to Missing Pet Partnership and support our efforts to recover lost pets!
**UPDATE** On 10/3/08, Cosmo’s owner wrote to tell us that an MPP Intersection alert by volunteers Jim Branson, Brian Newsham, and Marie Newsham combined with an MPP poster and MPP advice on panicked dog behavior resulted in Cosmo’s recovery after 2 weeks and 2 days on the lam. Deb sends out a special thanks to the volunteers that helped as well as Gina (See July 26th entry above) and her family who helped with an area search.