There were two dogs and a cat that we were supposed to search for today, potentially. All three were found. So, Tino and I headed to Rattlesnake Mountain Trail to look for Snow, and to go for a hike. The total hike was 10 miles. We didn’t see any sign of Snow, or at least nothing that could definitely be attributed to him. Tino had a great time. So did I, although I did get pretty soaked, and tired. I brought a second jacket in my backpack, so I was able to change into the warmer jacket for the trip down the hill. Even though the clouds block the viewpoints, it was still a beautiful day. My fitness app says I burned 5400 calories for the whole day, including the 10 mile hike. I really wish we could find Snow.
Mu searched for Bear again today. We didn’t find him, but we found clues of where he might be, in the middle of a very large blackberry patch behind the apartments. Mu found black hairs on a blackberry thorn, and it looked like it could be from Bear. Mu did not find any evidence that Bear had been taken by a predator. A trap has been set, and people will be checking it. In the middle of the search, I let Mu off the leash in order to get untangled. He got that look in his eyes. I said, “Go ahead. Zoom.” He did some brief zoomies through the tall grass of the meadow. I tried to get a video of him, but he kept running behind me. After his zoomies, he got back to work and kept looking for Bear. Towards the end of the search, I tripped and fell. I tried to put a hand on Mu to stabilize myself and keep from falling, but Mu wisely stepped out of the way to keep the big oaf from falling on him, and I fell to the ground and smacked my elbow hard. At least Mu sat with me for a few moments while I recovered.
It’s been four years since I caught Viktor the second time. He has been my prisoner for four years now. He does seem happier sometimes. He will play with the dogs a little, and he wags his tail when all of the dogs are swarming around him. When we go for long walks, I just let him sniff everything, and I do work on my phone so that the 45 minutes of walking slowly and standing and waiting wouldn’t be a complete waste. Not that walking with Viktor would be a waste of time, but I don’t have 45 minutes every day to do nothing. Anyway, I get some work done, and Viktor stares off into space or smells some things. He does not lead a very exciting life. I don’t really have any games I can play with him. He seems to like being petted okay, but he doesn’t request it, the way the other dogs do. In four years, Viktor hasn’t made a lot of progress, but he has made a little. He’s not dead in a ditch, which, I hope he views that as progress. We will keep working on him, and hopefully someday he will enjoy normal dog things.
Tino searched for Shiloh in Arlington. It appears Shiloh is going under fences to avoid being followed. Tino and I had to go a long way around to resume the search each time Shiloh went under or through a fence. In one place, the gap between fences was narrow, but I thought I could fit. Tino went through before me. He had to squeeze his hips through. When I tried, there was no way I was going to be able to force myself through. Not because I’m fat, but apparently I’m wider than the width of Tino. I tried to get Tino back to me, and he wouldn’t come back through. I couldn’t figure out what to do. I would have a hard time climbing the six foot fence, as there was nowhere to get a toehold. I didn’t want to leave Tino tied there while I went the long way around. After what seemed like a very long time, but was probably only a few minutes, Tino decided that he could squeeze himself back through the gap. We searched for several hours. I had to stop when we hit a patch of forest marked Federal Property, No Trespassing. If it was just me, I would risk being arrested. I couldn’t put Tino at risk.
Training day. I worked Tino on a negative. He did just fine, turning back and looking at me, his cue. When I started him on the actual scent trail, he got off to a slow start. Then he galloped along the trail for a hundred yards, until he got near the creek and had to jump in. He had no trouble finding the dog.
Ava did very well. She really has a knack for it. She used just scent, without seeing where the target dog went. She shook when she hit a corner and ran out of scent. I think that will be her negative signal. Max and Haas also did well in training. We didn’t have time for Fozzie, and Mu didn’t come because there was no cat.
Mu and I searched for two cats today. They had just gotten out of the apartment door when the wind blew the door open. They had been out about ten hours by the time we started. Pandora and Bear were indoor only cats, and they were supposed to move to California the next day. Mu found Pandora within 25 minutes. She was under a barbecue cover. I’m certain her family walked by her a dozen times without knowing she was there. I pulled Mu back, and Pandora’s person was able to ease her out and get her back to the apartment. We searched another three hours for Bear, all over the complex and the woods and meadow behind the apartments. Mu didn’t find Bear. He did a great job, but it wasn’t as happy an occasion as it would have been if we had found both cats.
Tino and I searched for Kali today. He followed the scent around in circles, through the woods near their house. I think Kali was picked up by someone, but I don’t know that I got through to her owner. Of course, if she was picked up, that doesn’t necessarily help to know. They live right near the freeway, and it could have been anyone. Besides using the dog’s nose, I will often pay attention to other details and try to deduce other possibilities. I noticed hydraulic fluid, probably transmission fluid, on the road. It was fairly recent, and it was just one time that the vehicle had been down those streets. It wasn’t a car that someone drives through the neighborhood every day. The car couldn’t be driven too long leaking fluid that fast. The car stopped and released a pool of hydraulic fluid right by where Kali was last seen on camera. When I pointed this out to Kali’s owner, she thought of several alternate explanations for the leaking fluid. It’s true, my scenario was not the only explanation, but she seemed eager to dismiss it. It seems to me that people often want a simple service from me: find my dog. When I try to give more information or help direct the search effort going forward, it does create more work for the pet’s owner, in a way. I’m sure they hire me to be the solution to the problem, not to give them a longer list of things to do. I hope she finds Kali, but I worry that she may not have the time and energy to invest in the best strategies. At any rate, we found no evidence that Kali was taken by a predator. So, wherever she is, Kali is probably healthy and happy.
I think of whoever lost Fozzie. He was running around on the freeway. The people who lost him could have been from anywhere. I searched for his people in all the ways I knew how, posters, fliers, social media, reporting to shelters. He didn’t have a chip or tags. Fozzie is a great dog, and he is living a great life. I wonder what the people who had him think. Do they just assume he died? Do they think of Fozzie often? Did he belong to an old woman who died, and the relatives didn’t want him, so they dumped him? I’m very glad I have Fozzie, and even though I searched for his original owners for two months, I was relieved when no one claimed him. If anyone found Kali, they don’t seem to be looking for the owner. Maybe they assumed Kali was dumped and unwanted.
Tino and I searched for a six month old puppy in Issaquah. Her name is Nahla, and she looks very much like Mu looked as a puppy. We started about sunset and searched well into the dark. It seemed that she was searching for her family, the pattern she was moving. We searched so long in the pitch dark forest that both my flashlight batteries and phone batteries got low. I switched off both and worked in the moonlight for long stretches, which worked well. Tino doesn’t need light to use his nose.
When I’m on a case, my focus is on the lost cat or dog, appropriately. However, sometimes I can’t help but enjoy working with my dogs. Tino does great work, even when we don’t find the dog. His behavior is very readable, and he goes on forever, continuously focused on the goal. Searching in the dark forest in the moonlight with Tino, I was aware of what a rare and special opportunity it is, to work closely with a magnificent animal toward a worthy, nontrivial goal. That we didn’t catch up to Nahla takes nothing away from the work. Of course, we would both always prefer if we found the lost dog every time, but you could never convince me that we aren’t doing good work when we ultimately fail.
We searched for a dog named Snow on Mount Washington. Snow is about 40 pounds 11 months old. He is pure white. He got spooked by someone on a mountain bike, and ran off. His owner, Sierra, keeps him on leash most of the time but she let him off leash just for a brief moment make it easier to get through a rough spot and they were both surprised by the person on the mountain bike. The biker did not give Sierra a chance to catch up to her dog and try to recover Snow. He just kept going and pushing Snow farther away.
We tried to work the scent but we weren't able to pick up anything at all. I don't know if that's because the scent article was contaminated or if the scent was too old or if there had been too much rain and wind and snow. This was at a significant elevation where there was a lot of snow. Where we tried to work, the scent trail would have been under about 5 inches of snow. But before the snow started to stick, it rained very heavily. It took us about 3 hours to get up the trail to the point she lost Snow, and then almost 3 hours to get back down. After we were almost back to the car, Sierra realized she had Snow’s harness in her backpack, which would have been the perfect scent article. While we were hiking up, I was talking to Sierra, and she was saying how much she loved Snow. He would sleep in the bed with her, and she would wake up with his head across her neck. She posted his picture all over her Facebook page. She was really in love with him. She did nothing wrong. Just bad luck caused her to lose Snow. She was working really hard to find him, doing everything she possibly could. Of course, i hope we find every dog or cat we search for. Sometimes, though, the pet’s owner doesn’t work too hard to find their pet, or they weren’t too terribly attached. I have found dogs running loose and returned the dogs to owners who were indifferent, not too excited to get their dogs back. If anyone deserved to get her dog back, it is Sierra. I felt really bad that we were no help to her.
On the way down the mountain, I had to let Tino off leash so he wouldn’t kill my knees with pulling. I was pretty sure it would be fine. Tino has known me since the day he was born, and he always comes back to me. We didn’t have any problems, but I wondered, what if there was a bear or a mountain lion, and Tino got separated from me. What if he ran off for some reason, and ran off a cliff and died. Any day, I could lose my dog just because of bad luck, not because I did anything wrong. I love Tino so much, and I would be devastated if I couldn’t find him. I know Sierra really loves Snow, even though she has only had him a few months. She really deserved to have him back, and I wished there was more we could do.
Mu tried to search for a 3 month old kitten in Everett today. A large part of the adjacent area was swamp land with standing water. We couldn’t get through, and a kitten wouldn’t be there. We were able to search some of the woods. Only about 8 houses out of 25 gave permission, so our search was severely limited. Also, Mu was stung by yellow jackets again, and he wanted to go home. I hope they find the kitten, but I can’t say we did a thorough search. It was no one’s fault, just a difficult situation, especially because the owners had to leave on a trip.