My little dog
at my feet ~Edith Wharton
Let me set the stage. I’ve been developing and organizing the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt all month, getting ready to launch our first Thrill of the Hunt scavenger hunt event in Shadyside. So if you can image, there’s a lot of details and last minute items that need addressed. All week I was unable to take the dogs, Scooby and Seven, for their daily three mile hike. That’s my normal lunch break now-a-days. Plus, keep in mind, Kyle was at his Bricks 4 Kidz Lego Camp at Saint Vincent College. My lunches were consumed with Kyle, going to pick him up, getting him lunch and taking him back for his afternoon sessions. Then, the rest of my day and evenings, I was consumed with plugging away at the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt. Busy, busy, busy week.
Then, Friday morning rolled around. Naturally, I was up early with my head in my work, trying to wrap some items up before having to drop Kyle off at his Lego Camp. I knew I had to make a trip to Shadyside and meet with the participating business owners before the work day ended, and I had to send brochures to the printers, pick them up and assemble all the Thrill of the Hunt bags for the participants before the day came to a close. Needless to say, there was a lot on my mind and I was completely pre-occupied. I’m not making excuses, just outlining the events of the day.
Roughly around 7:00 am, mom emailed me telling me to change Seven’s tracker, the battery was really low. We use Tagg, which is a great service for tracking our freedom seeking dogs. Only keeping a tracker on Seven, we’ve found that the buddies travel together so no need to weigh Scooby down. My response to mom’s email? “I don’t have time and I’m not planning on taking the dogs for a walk today, I have too much to do!” Mistake number one! Then around 7:30 am, Kyle was playing with my cat, Storm, on the porch and he had the front door wide open, without putting up the baby gate. I was also going back and forth to my car loading it up with needed Thrill of the Hunt paraphernalia.
Then by 8:00 am, we both noticed we were two dogs short! Around that time, I had to hurry up and update the Piper Reunion postcard and send it to press, since that was sneaking up on us; my friend Holly wanted to run hills and was calling; and mom called to ask me to bring her a large bowl to work. Yikes! Too much to do! Not to mention I had to get Kyle over to his last day of Lego camp by 8:30 am and now the boys are missing.
Right around this very hectic time, mom emailed me giving me the update on the already known missing dogs. She saw his last check-in was in Ridilliatown, not far from our house, but his tracker died so we really had no idea where their actual whereabouts were. My response? They’ll come back. Did I mention this was when I was in route, between Saint Vincent, to Latrobe and mom’s work?
You see the dogs have a track record of taking off, running through the woods for a few hours and then making their way back home after they are good and tired and completely muddy (Dog Gone). So who would have thought they would have deviated off of the norm? Certainly none of us did! In fact, we thought they would show up on the porch before dark, ready to sit out there punishment under the kitchen table. That’s were they go when they’re in trouble. The thinner, crappy doggie beds reside under there, making them really suffer their punishments out. (sarcasm)
Well, needless to say nightfall came and left and no signs of the dogs! I woke up Saturday morning around 5:00 am to get ready for the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt to find the house still a little empty. I hate to say it, but when I talked to mom, who incidentally slept on the couch so she could hear are late night arrivals, I said, “I bet someone shot them!” Mom agreed. I know what a horrible thought! I didn’t say I wanted that to happen, I was just trying to be realistic and prepare myself for the worst. That’s what happened to my cousin’s dog when we were little, it was terrible! Jack the dog, came back with half of his jaw shot off!
Speaking of shooting dogs. That might sound like an over active imagination and not a present day reality, guess again! When we were going around to the local neighbors where the dogs were once spotted, a lady told us that someone in Youngstown, near Latrobe Pennsylvania is known to shoot stray dogs. She said they shot one before and wounded another! Can you believe it? I understand dog owners have to be in control of their dog at all times, but come on, things happen. There is no reason to shoot a dog! Maybe if it was bringing direct harm to another animal or person, sure for self defense, but just because they are loose and running around? Even if they were on your property, shoo them away! Don’t just shoot them! What is wrong with some people? Apparently, they have no heart and we need to say prayers for them.
Wishing I could have stayed to help with the rescue mission Saturday morning, Kyle and I headed into Pittsburgh for the Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt. Before I left I had time to make a missing poster and I distributed it to my social sites far and wide. While we were in Shadyside, the irony of the situation hit me! I was running a scavenger hunt for dogs, when ours ran away and were lost, called Dog Gone! Scavenger Hunt. Not funny at the time, but has brought new humor.
The scavenger hunt went really smoothly and was well received by all the participants and business owners. During the hunt, besides reaching out to our participants via social sites along with my sister, we were also helping to spread the word, on our very own missing four legged pals. I was taking calls, and checking Facebook, keeping in touch with my friend Tree who was following up on leads and touching base with my family. Talk about a lot going on!
As soon as I got back to the area, I joined the search and rescue team. Getting in the car with mom, we rechecked the the last areas the dogs were spotted, and a few areas we thought they might have gone through. What made this so difficult was the location of our runaways. They were running through mostly woods, even worse, mostly unfamiliar woods to me, making their appearance every now-and-again near someones house or a main road. Even though it was extremely frustrating, each report brought a bit of hope. At the start of this all, the last place we knew the dogs were located in Ridilliatown, early Friday morning. Keep in mind it is now Saturday afternoon.
The sightings included: Someone saw them together off of route 30 near Sleepy Hallow at 6:00 pm on Friday. Someone saw them near Kingston on Friday around 5:30 pm. Someone almost hit them with their car off of route 30 near Ligonier around 6:30 pm on Friday. What? How did they make it that far coming from Youngstown?
Well, later on Sunday when I hiked the woods in that area, I found out it didn’t take me long to cross the ridges through the woods, only traveling about four miles. Piece of cake for a couple of four legged travelers.
Then God gave us another bit of hope, Dave Planinsek saw them off his property Saturday morning around 6:15 am. Great! They made the night. He did say it looked like the black one, Seven was foaming at the mouth. That would explain why the others who spotted our pups said the one looked like he had porcupine quills in his mouth. My poor Seven!
Saturday night was fast approaching and nothing, no sign, no word. I even walked back in unfamiliar woods of Sugarbush, calling the entire mile in and mile out. Once darkness completely took away my sense of sight, I reluctantly left the woods. I will admit, it was pitch black and I had about three quarters of a mile to go just to get out of the woods and meet up with dad, who was on the quad.
We arrived at my parents house Saturday night, feeling completely defeated! Especially knowing the dogs were going to have to spend another night in the woods and knowing that Seven was hurt and possibly Scooby.
That did it! I had a new game plan. I woke up early Sunday morning, we went to church the night before because Kyle had to serve mass, and packed my book bag. I was going to hike all the woods in the area to try and find them. Our logic, since no one had seen them since Saturday morning, they were hanging out in the woods. They were injured, tired, hungry, scared and lost.
I packed up my .22 pistol, some food and water, first aide kit and a few other essentials. I made sure my phone was completely charged so I could check my location on my GPS. Mom was nervous since I have a track record of getting lost, (Directionally Challenged) but I had no qualms about walking around the woods. I knew I’d pop out somewhere. To play it safe, as long as my phone was on, Kyle could find me on Find Friends apps. Not to mention I was using my RunKeeper app, which Tree and mom had my login information to track my last checked in status.
Breaking some of my RunKeeper records I continued on foot, while dad was on the quad and mom and Kyle were in the car driving around and checking with neighbors and putting up more posters.
This went on for hours on Sunday, it seemed like a lifetime. When I would make my way to a main road, I would have mom and Kyle come and get me, to drop me off closer to start again. By Sunday at 1:30 pm, I was with mom and Kyle in the car. We decided to call dad to see how his progress was going. When mom was talking to dad trying to outline our next plan of attack, possibly take a break for the time being, dad spotted Scooby! We were in complete shock! He called Scooby, and after Scooby recognized dad, he came running over to the quad, leaping up in his lap. All dad was saying was, “Bring the car around and get him!” I said, “Where are you?” His vague reply was, “By the woods.” Really? Is this a joke? “What woods?” I said. Again, vaguely dad replied, “The ones we were by last night.” Really? Again, we were all over the ridge on Saturday.
Trying to get dad’s exact location proved to be as difficult as trying to find the dogs because he just wanted to talk to Scooby. He was even asking our blond pal where his pal Seven was.
Once we picked up Scooby, who had a few porcupine quills in his face, that I plucked out, Scooby fell asleep in the car on the way home. Then back we went to track down number two doggie delinquent. Apparently, the one house saw them, just before dad got to their house while he was on the quad, and they tried to call the dogs over. Scooby came to our good Samaritans, (to my complete surprise) but Seven was scared and took off (even more of a shock, I thought the opposite). Now for the first time in days, the dogs are separated.
We looked and looked, to no avail. Finally, as we were ready to make another pass at the ridge in the car, we got a call from the same house who found Scooby. Seven was in their yard! Mom drove like lightening to get there. Once I saw my obviously distraught, disoriented and in pain pup, I welcomed him with open arms. He reluctantly came to me, but eventually made his way into the car, for our ride home.
Seven and Scooby are safe back home! Seven spent Monday at the vets getting those darn porcupine needles out of his face. I was going to try and remove them like I did once for Scooby (Scooby Meets a Porcupine), but Scooby’s weren’t in for three days. Seven was also really dehydrated and starving. I thought it be best to wait out the night and take Seven to the vet first thing in the am. They weighed him and it seems he lost nearly ten pounds! Poor pup couldn’t eat or drink or even sleep for that matter, for three days.
The boys were gone from Friday at 7:30 am and Scooby was brought home around Sunday at 2:00 pm, while Seven didn’t make it home till Sunday at 8:00 pm. He also had to endure another night with the quills in his face before we could take him to the vet on Monday at 8:30 am. He’s still not quite himself, but he is coming around, at least physically. Scooby’s really stiff and his paw is proving to be hard to walk on, but he bounced right back.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to call in the sightings of the dogs, and those that tried to help completely strange dogs and unknowns owners! Your efforts made the world of difference!
While everyone was extremely helpful, I want to give a big thanks to specific people. One being my friend Tree. She gave me all the updates of the reported sightings, posted on Action for Animals Facebook, responded back to posts and inquiries, tracked me as I walked through the woods so I didn’t get lost, sent us phone numbers and helped to remind me to keep the faith and reach out to my inner Wonder Woman! Thanks Tree, you rock! She was saying prayers and asking for Saint Francis and Saint Anthony to pray for us too. Then there was mom’s friend Mary, who called all the police departments, local and state and reached out to specific key individuals in the area to spread the word and retrieve updates. All of the Planinsek’s were most certainly helpful and patient with us driving around their property yelling for our delinquents, and walking and driving our quad through their woods. The Seminsky’s went out riding around looking for beasts. Renee Yazvec Hall’s husband and son drove around after seeing the posts on Renee’s Facebook page. They also offered their services if we needed them, and truly meant it! And not to mention the fellows from Frowen’s garage went looking with trucks and quads. Thanks everyone, and those who I did not mention, some taking it upon yourselves to make calls and assist. Thank you!
Although everyone in the surrounding areas were more than helpful, a big kudos goes to PJ Self and his family. That young man, saw the dogs and let us know. Then joined our rescue team on foot and ran through the woods and made a huge circle to look for Seven. He actually ran. Seriously, I mean he actually ran! He even kicked up some deer, I saw them leaping like gazelles through Steiner’s field, while PJ ran along the tree line, miles from his house! We never asked, he just wanted to help out. Thank you so very much!
Thinking about it now, I wonder if our boys learned a lesson? Somehow I doubt it! But for now they are safe and sound!