Midnight is a stunning mix of Rottweiler and German Shepherd, the Rottweiler look being the predominant look (or maybe it’s just the rottie coloring). Check out his photo. Don’t you see confidence? Regality? Almost hard to believe he was homeless, he’s so beautiful that you’d want to keep him around just so you can look at him.
But he was homeless, and Sarah and Charley adopted him and made their home, his home. They set out to make him a part of their life, including him in their outings. With that in mind, he accompanied them to Charley’s soccer game, to watch with Sarah, the very next day after he was adopted by them. I guess he hadn’t figured out by that time that he had a good thing with Sarah and Charley -- since he took off.
The game and the location that he disappeared from is about ten miles south of their Takoma Park MD home, in the Anacostia area of DC. Searching for a lost dog is a challenge even when it occurs from home, and when the dog’s people have no other obligations to attend to while they need to search for the dog, and even if they have a lot of people helping them. There are SO many things to do that there wasn’t enough time or people to do, so the search went on for a month. And all of this took place without them having developed a bond with Midnight. But throughout the search, you wouldn’t know it. Sarah never let up, never acted like it made a difference that she’d had him since only the day before he went missing. She put as much time into it as she could because when she and Charley made the commitment to give Midnight a home for life, they meant it. Sure, it’s how it should be, but still, a lot of people would have dropped out of the effort long before a month passed, so I was impressed!
One of the things that Sarah did in the beginning was reach other to another Sarah who had recently lost a dog in the area, which she’d found out about from searching the web for information and ideas about just what to do. Lucy’s mom Sarah did what is typical of dog lovers – she answered the call for help with information and the benefit of her experience. She introduced Midnight’s mom Sarah to the people that had stepped up to help her when Lucy was lost, and this group immediately went to work to help Midnight, too. But the group is small, and doesn’t include enough people to do all it takes to find a lost dog evading capture, as Midnight seemed to be doing. More participants are required in order to accomplish all of the outreach and monitoring of feeding stations and such than were ever brought in to the search. But there was enough fliering and talking to people to find out that there’s a dog fighting ring operating in the park where Midnight was seen a few times, and to find out that he seemed to be hanging out with one or two other dogs.
In the end, Midnight managed to migrate – on his own or with help – around 15 miles east of the Anacostia soccer game location to Upper Marlboro MD. And it turns out that this handsome and very assured looking dog has such storm phobia that on the Saturday night, four weeks from his escape, he tried to crawl into someone's house! The folks called animal control, and when an officer arrived, Midnight basically crawled into the officer's lap. How sweet, huh?
He did have a tag, so Sarah got a call by Sunday, but she couldn’t pick him up till Monday since the office was closed. While he waited at the PG County shelter, Midnight did get visited, though – by the officer that had come to his rescue. As soon as she could, Sarah picked him up and took him home, and snapped some photos for his blog. He did have to have 20-30 ticks pulled off him, but when he went to the vet the next morning, he came away with a pretty clean bill of health.
When we heard that he was running with other dogs, we reached out to Steve Hagey with Detect-a-Pet to see if he had advice on how to trap just one dog in a pack. He didn't have experience, but he had advice worth passing to others who might find themselves in that situation:
- If you utilize a conventional humane trap, and manage to catch a dog (but not Midnight) then all the other dogs will see and learn that the trap is not a friendly place to be. This will teach20all other dogs to avoid the trap in the future.
- Within a pack, competition for food will be higher, so the pack will probably be roaming more and on the hunt more. The positive side is that the competition for food will make them less cautious and more eager.
- If they are feeding a location where they can be observed, perhaps at or near the dump, my recommendation would be to setup a large containment structure that can be observed and closed manually by a rope. You can accomplish this by using a portable dog kennel. The objective would be to observe and wait until Midnight enters the containment area, then pull the rope, which will cause the entry door to close.
- As an alternative, if you can get the dogs to visit someone's fenced yard, which will serve as a large containment area, you can accomplish the same result.Also, dogs living in a pack have a hierarchy and rank. If Midnight is top dog, he would eat first, in which case a humane trap may be sufficient.
- With whatever method you use, if you are containing more than one dog at a time, plan ahead and think through your method for gaining access to the containment area and managing 2 or more agitated dogs simultaneously.
Midnight’s blog is located at www.helpfindmidnight.blogspot.com, and you can follow the search from start to finish.