Here is Silky's adoption video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJhagvkjoVg
You can see she is fearful, but not aggressive, and she is slowly adjusting to us.
A family who had adopted from us before offered to foster her, with the potential for adoption. We were thrilled. She needed to experience home-life to get used to the routine movements and mild activities within a quiet household. We often had her out of her kennel running around in the office area, but we are often in too big a rush moving about throughout the day for it to be a comfortable adjustment for her.
We did a home visit at the family's house. They had a completely fenced in back yard, nice house, nice family. The environment seemed quite safe and conducive to rehabilitation of a dog that has never been outside of a cage. There were no obvious danger zones inside or outside the house to be concerned about and the fence was solid and well constructed.
Silky was on her way to family life for a slow and gentle adjustment. The family was happy to have her.
Within 24 hours, we received a phone call. Silky is missing. The foster Mom had taken her outside in the fenced in yard to go potty. She would closely monitor Silky on every potty and play trip to the great outdoors. Silky was comfortable outside in the yard because it was similar to our fenced in area at the clinic. This is the one place where she would play like a regular dog, rolling, running, frolicking. The foster mom turned away for a moment, never leaving the spot she was standing, and when she looked back, Silky was gone!
The yard was completely and safely fenced in. She couldn't possibly be far. There was no way to escape that fence, was there? After what seemed like hours of searching the back yard, the conclusion was that she had somehow gotten out. And she had.
We immediately started getting the word out about her escape in every way possible. We printed 100 Lost Dog flyers at Copyworks, who graciously gave us a discount. We started a facebook group and invited as many locals as possible to make them aware of the situation. I changed my facebook status and photo to one of Silky and posted her last known where-a-bouts. We notified veterinarians, police, sheriff, and anyone else who would listen. Then we waited.
Tuesday we received our first sighting. The sheriff's office called and said that she was seen outside a local retirement home but quickly ran off into the fields when spotted. The foster parents spoke with people at the retirement home, and set live traps to safely catch her. We normally bait the traps with canned cat food or tuna. Then we waited.
We did not catch her overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. We did not catch her overnight Wednesday. But there was another sighting of her in the same area on Thursday. Traps were set again. Then we waited.
We did not catch her overnight Thursday. But another sighting was reported Friday morning. The foster mom went out and re-baited the trap. This time the foster mom put chicken noodle soup in the trap, and used small dishes filled with chicken noodle soup leading up to and into the trap. It was like something out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Then we waited.
Around three in the afternoon the phone rang. "We caught her!" was shouted from the other end.
"You caught her?! Can you bring her in?!"
We eagerly awaited her arrival, which we caught on video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT6v7TjN0Sk
She was slightly dehydrated after a week of life on her own. We gave her some subcutaneous fluids to rehydrate her. We gave her some dewormer, because who knows what she has been eating out there. We pulled 11 ticks off of her little body. We applied flea and tick prevention. Overall she was in great shape for a little dog who has been through so much.
I did not realize how stressed out I was over Silky's adventure until she was found. You convince yourself that you have hardened yourself a bit after years of rescue work. You may not show your feelings to others. What is more surprising is that you may not show your feelings to yourself. But in situations like this one, a situation that could have been bad but that actually resolved itself with a happy ending, it reveals to you the emotions that you try to hide. The emotions are still there.
Just because we rescue many, when we lose one for whatever the reason, we still hurt. When we have to turn a dog or cat away because we are overwhelmed, we still worry about where that dog or cat will end up, and that hurts. We rationalize that these losses are not our fault, and they are not. Yet we carry those burdens anyway, whether we want to or not.
Animal rescuers don't wear uniforms. We don't wear a red cross on our hats. Our cars do not have fancy flashing colorful lights. (Although there are times we wish they did.) You don't know who we are when we walk past you in Walmart.
But all of those people doing animal rescue wear a badge of courage that is not visible to most. I wish to thank all those that help us in our rescue endeavors. Those badges are worn by transporters, foster parents, volunteers, fundraisers, adopters, crossposters, and all those that donate time, space, items, or money. Wear it proud because we wear it together. The ones that see it, are the ones we help... with furry toes and a warm nose.
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