This is Pup. She was my project for the first half of 2018.
Pup was a stray dog who got herself stuck in the middle of a massive road construction project a couple miles from my house. She was frightened of everything, but was lucky enough to be in a place where she had free access to water and shelter at all times.
The area she got stuck in was a rainwater collection basin the city just built as part of the construction project. The whole area was freshly planted with trees, and the irrigation system was set to water them several times per day – with above-ground water spouts, so Pup could always take drinks. She also had some nice storm tunnels to sleep in to avoid the hottest parts of the day, and a higher, sheltered area to wait out any rain storms (which rarely happen here). All told, the area she was in was about 4 acres of land, right next to a very busy road. The road was also under construction, so the speed limit was dramatically reduced, and most local drivers had changed their routes because the 3 lane road would be down to 1 lane for over a year.
Here’s the story of the the 185 days it took for me to catch her.
2/2/2018: Spotted for the first time while on my way to work. Pulled over and attempted to catch her, but she was having none of it. Left some food out for her and went on my way.
2/3 – 2/7: I didn’t see her at all during these days. I walked through the area she was in and had seen signs she might still be around, so I left food out each day.
2/8 – 5/30: Spotted her again! She wouldn’t come near me, but would eat the food I left out as soon as I got into my car. at this point she wouldn’t come within 200 feet of me, but would look in my direction if I called to her, and didn’t run away from me if I didn’t make any moves toward catching her.
5/31 – 6/3: A homeless woman moved into the area and starts taking care of Pup. I think this bit was very important in allowing me to eventually catch her. Instead of leaving food for Pup directly I brought food to the woman caring for her.
6/4 -6/9: The homeless woman has moved on but Pup stayed where she was. I resumed daily feeding visits and have also started putting out additional water. Pup will not come within 100 feet of me.
6/10: Pup sniffed my hand for the first time then eyed me suspiciously from 5 feet away. She wouldn’t come any closer, but would follow me as I walked around the basin.
6/11 – 6/26: Pup will greet me when I arrive by giving my hand a quick lick and taking whatever chew toy I’ve brought her. She then sits about 5 feet away, chewing happily for an hour, until I leave. She also follows me to my car now, but won’t get in.
6/27: Pup ran to to greet me when I called her name, tail wagging like crazy! She gave me lots of face kisses. She was very playful and let me touch her face for the first time. She won’t let me touch her body yet.
6/27 – 7/26: Pup has disappeared! I keep the daily visits for 2 weeks, then every other day for another week. I stop visiting, but still watch the area every day when I drive by.
7/27 – 8/2: Pup is back! And she remembers me! I resume daily visits. I am allowed to touch her neck and body now.
8/3: Pup does a nosedive into my lap and exposes her belly to me for the first time!
8/4: I hold on to pup for 15 seconds, release her after she struggles. She immediately forgives me and comes back for more petting. I also talk to one of the guys who has been bringing her treats. He is sad that she won’t go near him. I sit beside him and she immediately approaches and sniffs his hand. He was so happy to finally get close to her!
8/5: Pup is caught! I easily drop the slip lead over her head. She struggles a moment then lays at my feet. I have to carry her 300 feet to my car. She gets in the car on her own. She was happy to get out of the car, but afraid to come into the house, so I had to carry her again. Now she’s resting quietly in my spare room. Oliver, the cat, is very annoyed at not being allowed to play with her. He loves dogs, but he’s also allergic to them.
A Happy Ending
Pup lived with me for about three weeks. In that time she was spayed, had a broken canine tooth removed, and made friends with some neighbor dogs. She was perfectly behaved, somehow still housebroken even after all that time on her own. She was a lazy couch potato who snoozed all day while I was at work and loved her twice-daily walks.
The whole time I was working on catching Pup I had also been advertising her as a “found” dog on all the internet sites and with signs in the area. No one ever came forward during that time to claim ownership, and Pup didn’t have a microchip or identifying tattoo. Since we didn’t know who she was or where she came from the best we could do was find her a new adoptive home.
Once she was healed from her surgeries she was adopted into a wonderful home where she is now (a little too) fat and happy.