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What Animal Rescue means to me…

December 11, 2011

I want to tell you all a little Indigo Rescue holiday story, and I hope that it has the same impact on you as it has had on me…
As the search for little Trigger continued yesterday with our fantastic motorcycle club friends from the Sons of Armageddon searching Cascade Locks unsuccessfully for any homeless camps or homeless people, another drama was unfolding in Beaverton. In an ironic twist of fate, one of my foster dogs, Franzi, a shy little eight month old Jack Russell mix, escaped a volunteer in the parking lot at Petsmart and ended up bolting into the park next door. It was 12:30pm. The volunteer followed him as best she could on foot, and another volunteer called me inside the store where I was working on Santa pics. Before I finished that call I was sprinting for the park. Apparently shortly after he ran into the park, Franzi had run across Cedar Hills Blvd from the park (and didn’t get hit by a car – which is already a miracle in itself), and then disappeared into the neighborhood. The really traumatic part of this story is that Franzi is another dog who will not allow strangers to approach him and he was running as fast as his little legs would carry him. If someone tried to grab him, he’d probably try to bite them. My heart sank. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. There was tons of holiday traffic, in every direction. Within 15 minutes we had made a bunch of calls while driving around and recruited fourteen volunteers in eight cars to circle around the neighborhood trying to find him. We drove around for a few hours without a single sighting until finally I decided I needed to hurry home and make a flyer so we could hang as many as possible before it got dark.
An hour later, at around 3:30pm, we started hanging flyers. By sundown, we had hung nearly 300 bright orange flyers with a photo of Franzi, most in protective sleeves, on every pole or tree within a mile radius of where Franzi was last seen. A few volunteers went home, and others joined the search. Still, no sight of Franzi. I went home quickly and fed everyone, added a few more layers of clothing, and headed back. A few more volunteers from NW Animal Companions joined the search and we all coasted slowly around the neighborhoods and the park and parking lot of Petsmart with flashlights, but still not one sighting of Franzi! It was 30 degrees outside. Finally, at around 10pm, one of the volunteers spotted Franzi in the parking lot at Petsmart. he was trying to find his way back! As soon as she pulled up, he bolted into the park again. They called me but when I arrived there five minutes later, Franzi was already long gone. We decided trapping was going to be the best way to catch a really scared dog, and between us we came up with four traps. I ran home to get two of them. Kelley and Bob had a bolt of material in their car that we could use to cover the traps. We set the traps in four places in the park and Petsmart parking lot, and waited. It was almost midnight. By 2am, we had checked the traps and driven around the neighborhoods without any sightings and the last of the volunteers, Sophia and Shelli, headed home. I stayed until 3:30am and made arrangements for another volunteer, Pat, to come back at 7am, before sun-up to check the traps. I slept restlessly from 4:30am to 7am and then scrambled to take care of everyone at home so I could get back to search.
I received the first call from the flyer at 7:45am. Someone had seen Franzi at the Coffee Rush next to Petsmart and he was just standing there watching the cars (I’m sure he was looking for mine). I called Pat immediately, and four minutes later, I received another call, saying that Franzi had gone back across Cedar Hills Blvd into the neighborhood. This terrified us because every time he crossed four lanes of Cedar Hills Blvd we knew he was at great risk of being hit. I called Charlene and asked her if she could help Pat try to keep Franzi from crossing again until I could get there. Traffic was only going to get worse as the holiday shoppers churned out.
When I got there half an hour later, Pat and Charlene had already followed Franzi back across Cedar Hills Blvd again, and kept him in the park for a few minutes, but he had eventually bolted across the road again. Panic! They had an idea where he had disappeared though, so we decided to stand a few hundred feet apart on Cedar Hills Blvd and form a row of people to hopefully prevent him trying to cross the road again. Charlene had called Franzi by name the last time he had run across the road and he had been startled for a second but then bolted the other way when he realized she wasn’t me. I knew the best chance we had of getting him was for him to hear my voice (which was falling apart from all the yelling for him the day before), but we had to find him first. I had already called Kelley and Claudia, who both drove over and joined us, and Kelley called her friend Kelly and her husband to come over. We stood there in the cold, three to five of us in a row on Cedar Hills, and a few others searching the neighborhood where he had disappeared.
More than an hour later, Pat and Kelley spotted Franzi behind a business running along the fence. He saw them and ran faster. They yelled for me and I ran straight down to the area they had seen him and he was already gone. It had been less than 10 seconds. I was so frustrated! I searched and there was no place he could have gone – except a giant patch of blackberry bramble, stretching about 30’ feet across. NO! Not blackberry bramble! We could not see him, and as I feared, he was so scared he was not even coming out when I called for him. I watched the bramble and listened, and there wasn’t even a rustling of movement. Claudia was on the other side of the patch of bramble completely out of view and suddenly we heard her yell. She saw him running back into the bramble on the other side. It was 30′ from where I was. So, we knew that’s where he was, but we  still could not see him. I called Jaye and asked her to grab some flattened boxes from Petsmart so I could try to climb across the bramble. I worried if he was afraid, he would bolt again so I asked Pat to stay up by the road so he could see him if he did. Claudia stayed on the other side and some neighbors were trying to help her see into the bramble. Kelley and Jaye eventually went over to that side, too, leaving me alone on the one side. That turned out to be the ticket. Once he couldn’t hear any other voices, Franzi finally peered out at me from deep inside the bramble. As soon as I saw him I started talking to him and offering him treats. He tried to come to me, but he couldn’t get through the bramble. He would try to climb over and he would get stuck. He tried to crawl under, and he would get stuck, so he just stood there looking at me. I yelled to Pat and asked him to keep everyone away because I knew this was going to be my best chance to get him. I started laying the flattened boxes across the bramble but they only reached to about 6-8’ away from him. So, I started crawling across the rest of the bramble and finally, I got one arm close enough to reach in and scruff Franzi and pull him up and over the thorny branches. I had him! I yelled to Pat and told him I had him and I could hear a chorus of people yelling to each other that I had caught Franzi and he was finally safe! I backed my way back out of the bramble clutching Franzi and a few people ran over to help me out of the rest. I’ve attached a few pics from the moments that followed Franzi’s rescue.
That was a tearful but happy few minutes. Everyone called as many people as they could and told them the good news. A stranger, who none of us knew, but we all thought someone else must have known, had been driving around for half an hour trying to help us find Franzi. He heard us yelling that he was found and ran to get him a hamburger. Other people had chicken and everyone wanted to reward him for surviving, so Franzi ate like a King – and he was REALLY hungry! I had him clutched to me so he couldn’t get away but he seemed pretty content to have everyone feeding him. One of his feet was bloodied and there was a little blood around one side of his mouth, but other than that, I could not find any injuries. I swear he drank about a quart of water. It was now 11:30am and he had been running scared for 23 hours! We went back across to Petsmart where our Santa had been abandoned the day before, and Franzi had his photo taken with Santa. To show us he was none–the-worse-for-wear, he even played with a Santa hat.
It really was a miracle. To catch a scared little dog like that took a pile of people being in the right place at the right time, but if all of those people hadn’t been there it simply would not have happened. If we hadn’t had enough people to hang flyers everywhere, we may not have gotten those first calls the next morning so we knew where he was. if we hadn’t had enough people to line up on Cedar HIlls Blvd so early that  morning, Franzi would have just continued to try running back across the road, and one of those times he might not have made it. If Pat and Kelley hadn’t seen him running along the fence, we would not have known where he was. If I hadn’t eventually been alone by that patch of bramble, he would not have been brave enough to peer out at me and let me crawl into the bramble to get him. Everyone pulled together to help find and save this little dog! Remember, each one of these people could have been at home, enjoying their weekend off work in their warm houses, getting a good night’s sleep. But they weren’t. Instead, they all made a sacrifice in order to help find this dog. We stayed on top of him from the second he took off, and we never, never, never gave up. That is what Animal Rescue means to me. Yes, part of rescue is definitely saving animals who are not going to make it in the shelters, but the other part of living the animal rescue life is knowing there are people who will drop everything and make a lot of personal sacrifice in order to save ONE dog or cat. I hope everyone feels proud of their part in this rescue and of the continuing search for Trigger. Without each of your participation, Indigo Rescue would not be able to make the difference it does and save these little guys, even one at a time.
So, to each of these people, I want to offer another heartfelt thank you. You are my hero’s and you make me proud to be part of Animal Rescue:
Franzi’s Rescue
Burger Guy (who ever he was)
Saturday search for Trigger
Travis and his boys…
The Sons of Armageddon