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Caber’s Caper!

As many of you have read, Caber was lost this past weekend. Thankfully, he was found safe and sound after 2 days and 7 hours and reunited with his family.  Caber and his owners thank everyone for helping spread the word when he was lost.

The following story, Courtesy of Anne Dove is an awesome account about Caber’s disappearance and how he was found.

Caber’s Caper

To set the context for this story, 10-year old Cairn Terrier, Caber, got loose from his home Friday evening after Kathleen’s son, Joe, returned home from work.  Caber was only loose 10-15 minutes before his absence was noticed, so Joe enlisted friends to search for him.  Only one person said she saw him, noting she saw a little black dog running with two larger dogs up Yosemite Way.  It’s not clear whether it was actually Caber.  Joe then posted fliers, and put out the word.  The next day I helped with more fliers, and I walked my female Cairn, Paisley, around the neighborhood.  She looks like Caber which was helpful in explaining the appearance of the missing dog, and since Caber and Paisley are good buddies, I thought her presence could help draw him out.  Shelters, vets, and the microchip company were contacted; shelters were checked regularly; social media and alert services were used; and for nearly 3 days, there was zero updates.  For reference, Caber is the last Cairn from Kathleen’s decades of breeding and her constant companion.  And to make the situation more urgent and dire, Kathleen was in the hospital when Caber went missing (she’s OK and should be home this week!).  Oh, and this area has a significant coyote population!  So that’s when the option of a K9 pet tracking service was explored.  By Monday evening, Caber was found and home safe!  Here’s the story:

First, the Happy Ending

Monday evening, Joe received a call from an older gentleman who said he lives up Yosemite Way (the street Joe and Kathleen live on…it goes up and down and winds through the hills) to say he had their dog.
The man reported his daughter actually found the dog, and Caber’s been there all weekend.  Supposedly, she saw the flier, but didn’t want to call, because she thought she was going to “get in trouble” (yeah, kinda weird), but then the DAD saw a flier and figured out it was the same dog and that he was lost. Within minutes, the dad rolls up to Kathleen and Joe’s house in a brand new Alfa Romeo sports car with Caber riding shotgun…in style!

The K9-Handler Search

Working with the K9 team was a very interesting (and fun) experience that might be of interest to folks. After speaking with the handler Sunday afternoon about her services, during which she also provided a significant amount of advice, I met them Monday morning.  The team included a dog, a handler, and a ‘flanker’ to keep an eye open, watch for safety issues, etc. (she was also helpful in running fliers up and down hills to people we saw too!).

The search dog (a Catahoula Leopard Dog, named “Fricassee” or “Frick” for short) started at the house, using crate bedding to take in the target scent (we brought the scented item with us too).  At the end of the driveway, Frick turned up Yosemite, in the direction Caber is taken on walks and the direction towards where he was allegedly seen.  Their home is across from an elementary school that sits along the bottom of the small canyon.  At the top end of the school, instead of continuing up Yosemite as expected, Frick made a right up a small dead-end residential street that wrapped around the back of the school.  We learned after the search from Joe that Caber has been wanting to turn up that way on walks, but he hasn’t taken him that way as it’s a weird little dead end street, but it would make sense that Caber would want to go that way when on his own.  Past the end of the road was a small trail through trees/brush that connects to another street that was along the opposite side of the ridge line.

Frick then took a hard left up along a residential street to an intersection, then she took another hard left onto a residential street along the ridge line that parallels Yosemite below.  She showed lots of interest at a few houses (maybe Caber rested or stopped there?), but Frick kept going.  At the end of this street, you can either turn left downhill back to Yosemite Way or continue along a short cul-de-sac.  She made a definitive left turn back to Yosemite Way, then a quick right to continue up Yosemite away from the owners’ home.  We continued up (and down…and up again) Yosemite, and Frick showed particular interest in a few spots along the way (perhaps where Caber rested or marked?).

Then there was a small, short private road with three newer, large houses in a row along a side ridge with gorgeous views of the local mountains.  It was privately-gated (the gate was open) and Frick made a definitive turn showing quite a bit of interest in this side road.  We left a flier with someone who came out of one of the houses and said she works at the home.  Then we went back and continued down Yosemite Way.  Frick appeared to start losing interest as if she the scent trail was absent or becoming weaker.  We were almost to the location where Yosemite turns into a flatter neighborhood with gridded streets, and it seemed Frick was pretty much done, no longer showing behavior that she was picking up target scent.  We looped back to the owners’ house from a different (flatter!) direction from where we left.  As we approached the owners’ house, Frick sped up, turned up the driveway, and went straight to Caber’s crate that was still on the patio.  If she could speak, she probably would have said, “Hey!  Look!  I found signs of that dog we were looking for!”  She then received lots of love and praise!

The value of this search was that we were able to narrow down the areas to target for posting/handing out additional fliers, identify houses with security cameras, and talk to people (we took lots of notes and mapped the route).  We were also able to talk to several people and add fliers along the way.

Based on what we know now about where and when Caber was found (though we don’t know exactly which house he was in), I have NO DOUBT Frick had followed the right track and showed particular interest in the house where Caber was located (there were a handful and we wrote down the addresses).  There’s a very good chance that the row of three newer (and expensive!) houses would be owned by someone driving a brand new Alfa Romeo sports car, so I think Frick was on-the-spot, and the fliers posted along Yosemite Way were key in helping the gentleman who returned him in finding Caber’s home.

As someone who trains, competes and judges in scent work, I was very excited to work with this team and learn more about their trailing work…these two women also show dogs sometimes and have been involved with a variety of breeds, so I hope it was as fun for them to work with a client from the purpose-bred dog community!

This is “Fricassee” aka “Frick” the Catahoula Leopard Dog who helped identify Caber’s trail… good girl!