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I took the dogs for a walk at the Spring Gardens in Marilla on 4/30 with my friend Daniela and her dogs. At one point we saw my smaller dog Penny chasing a rabbit or squirrel in the distance. We immediately set out after her, but after a while, it became clear that she was not coming back. This was the first time in the 5 years I had owned her that she disappeared like that. We walked back to the car then returned to the spot we lost her at in case she had found her way back there. Nothing. We walked again to the first house on Reiter Rd she would have reached had she run straight ahead, and the lady living there immediately got mobilized to help. She called the EA warden and enrolled her husband to search for Penny in the woods on his four-wheeler. Nothing. Cathy was the first of the many animal lovers I met on my search for Penny during the following 5 days. The park ranger at the Spring Gardens was the second. They were both extremely worried about the two bands of coyotes that live in the area and that can be heard howling back and forth on a regular basis. The first night Penny was gone I imagined the worst: that she had become coyote lunch. I know coyotes are usually nocturnal hunters but Frank, the ranger, had shared horror stories of daytime attacks on dogs, including a pitt bull. Penny was a medium-sized Jack Russell mix with the most adorable underbite who did not stand a chance. To my biggest relief, the next day the EA warden called to let us know that people had seen her on the 400 Southbound. They had tried calling and catching her to no avail. She ran away and disappeared in the bushes on the EA side, but at least we knew that she had made it across the highway into EA. My little girl was trying to get home. We started asking people and putting up posters around Porterville Rd and heard from several people that she had been spotted running down that road into the backyard of some houses adjacent to Sinking Ponds. Apparently, a truck driver was following her slowly to make sure she would not get run over. I spent the next two days putting up posters and asking everyone I met around EA if they had seen a terrified white and tan terrier on the run. I asked so many people that I ended up running into the same folks two or three times on different days. Even the officer I flagged down in his police car told me he had heard of missing Penny several times already! I lost my voice in the process of endlessly inquiring about my dog. I got in touch with the Elma Warden as well as the sheriff's department in EA, Elma, Wales, Alden, OP, Lancaster... I took posters to town halls, post offices, and country stores. I posted about Penny widely on facebook and contacted the EA Advertiser to place an ad in the paper's following issue. Finally the Elma warden called me to mention that someone had spotted a white dog in OP, on Willardshire and Milestrip but that he did not think that she could possibly have made it that far. Neither did I, but I still went and put posters in mailboxes in that neighborhood, rang random bells and asked people about Penny. Engaging in what increasingly felt like a futile search was better than staying put and mulling over my anxiety over not knowing of her fate. Apparently, I had not gone far enough on Willardshire however, because it turned out that Penny had been there all along, crouching in someone's backyard. On day 5 in the morning, I got a phonecall from a lady on Willardshire who had finally been able to lay her hands on absconding little Penny. Terrified, Penny had spent the previous day retreating into the woods at the back of the yard every time someone got near. But she did not leave, and even spent the night on the house's back porch. The lady approached carefully on the second day and finally succeeded in getting a hold of poor Penny who was shaking uncontrollably. Fortunately for us, our pooch was still wearing her collar and tags, and the eagerly awaited phone call ensued. Penny was a stray and a rescue when we got her and she had obviously been abused in her previous life. For months after we got her, any object that even remotely looked like a stick would make her squirm in terror. I knew she was particularly fearful of men but apparently, away from her home, she was distrustful of women too... many tried to catch her to no avail during her little adventure. Had she lost her collar in the process, we may never have seen her again. I will never forget the look of disbelief, recognition, and relief in her eyes when we picked her up. She went from looking confused and beaten to acting more like her old spunky self as we carried her away. Her little paws were scratched up and bloody in front. She was dirty, exhausted, and ravenous, but she was finally home. She slept for two days straight and is now back to causing havoc around the house with her two favorite accomplices, Jake and Cookie. As for us, we will not be testing to see if she would ever pull this trick on us again! While I would never relive this experience, I have to say that the most heartening part of it was the way complete strangers would mobilize to help out, deeply empathizing and caring about our plight. At least three people called after seeing the poster, wanting to help. Friends and strangers alike shared their concern on Facebook, asking for daily updates. The dog warden would call every day to ask if there had been any developments in the search. I wish people knew what a great job dog wardens do and did not hesitate to call them whenever they come across a stray or apparently lost dog. I say this because too many people who had spotted Penny told me that they had just assumed she was someone's dog in the neighborhood. As a result, they did not call the town to signal the presence of a dog loose in their backyard. Had they done so, Penny may have come home much sooner. They only reported seeing the dog because they had come across my many posters or because I was accosting them directly. Fortunately, this is a story with a happy ending. If anything can be learnt from it, however, it is the knowledge that any sighting of any dog loose in your neighborhood is worth being reported. Better risk an unnecessary call than unnecessary pain. Better safe than sorry.
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