The second thing that went wrong was that there weren’t any clouds. It was supposed to be a cool day, and the previous few mornings has started out with low clouds and light drizzle. Tino had a difficult search scheduled, and sun and heat make it much harder for him. Hot dry weather evaporates the scent of the lost dog, and because of his thick coat, Tino overheats easily. If he starts panting, then it’s harder for him to draw the air past his olfactory receptors. We started driving towards North Bend with the air conditioning blasting on Tino in order to pre-cool him a little.
The third thing that went wrong was that after we start at the scent trail, Tino was following the scent through the woods, making a lot of crashing and panting noises, and when he poked his head out of the bushes, a man with a dog shouted very loud, as if he was about to be attacked by a charging bear. Tino’s black face may have looked like a bear for a split second. Tino was like, “Hey! Dogs and shouting! Is something fun happening?“ After that distraction, he got back to work and followed the scent into the woods, and tracked little Rosie for about a mile, until we hit the river.
Rosie had been missing for four days, after she went chasing some elk through the woods, with her leash attached. The scent trail led to a high bluff above the Snoqualmie river, and you could see an animal trail where various creatures had continued on down the steep and unstable slope. Tino certainly could have followed, but I could not, and I couldn’t just let him go, especially with the raging river presenting a hazard. He definitely would have gone into the river, if allowed, and he could probably get himself back out before the current swept him away, but I couldn’t take that chance.
As we were standing at the top of the bluff with the dog’s owner and her twelve year old son, wondering how to proceed, I thought I heard a small dog barking in the distance. It was up river, and we moved closer to investigate. We followed the rough animal trail to a point where we could get to the river easier. I want down the slope with Tino so we could try to hear better, and so he could cool off in a calmer pool near the bank. Tino got a drink and waded into the cool water as I held his leash, but we couldn’t hear any barking because the river was louder down at that level. We climbed back up the hill, and continued along the deer trail to the east. We came to a modern mansion in the middle of the forest. Rosie’s owner tried to knock on the door to get permission to continue the search, but we couldn’t find anyone. I turned my back to the security cameras so they could see LOST PET RESCUE in big white letters on my black jacket. We decided to continue toward the barking dog and hope that no one would mind.
We followed the trail east of the mansion and heard barking again. The owners definitely thought it could be Rosie. I had them stay at one point on the bluff as Tino and I headed east so that we could try to triangulate the source of the sound. I heard more barking, and the dog sounded hoarse, like she had been barking a long time. We came to a trail down the slope, where it looked like herds of elk had worn a wide path. There was Rosie, down by the river, with her unmistakable ears, one standing high and one drooping low. She seemed fine, but her leash was caught. Tino and I made our way down the steep slope, and Rosie was happy to see us. She was looking up into the woods where she could hear her boy breaking through the brush to get to her. She was very excited to see him. I unhooked Tino’s leash and swapped with Rosie’s to free her while I untangled her leash. Rosie’s boy took her up the slope to where her mom was waiting.
Rosie seemed a little skinnier but unharmed as we walked the mile back through the woods towards home. Mother and son were both very relieved to have Rosie back, having feared they would never see her again. I let Tino run off leash and threw sticks for him to fetch. After we got Rosie home, I took Tino to nearby Rattlesnake Lake for more play, a celebration of his good work. Tino may not have understood that he probably saved Rosie’s life, he just knew that he won “the game” and found the lost dog. He fetched his ball in the cold water a hundred times, and patiently posed for me as I took his picture.