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Friday, May 29, 2009

"Malcolm", DLH, Orange Tabby, San Mateo - Found

"September 2011
I've used Jackie's (and Dino's) services twice.  Both times the pets were found.  If you really love your pet AND YOU HAVE a really good scent article, it's worth a try.  My suggestion is one person can accompany them, but hang back and don't be a presence so you don't disturb what is an unfathomable process by the dog.

The first time I called Jackie, our big, male orange tabby disappeared after 15 years of always being there.  Hundreds of color fliers later, and two weeks or whistling and walking.  Nothing.  Lots of calls from well-meaning people though.  Part of a bonded pair, the remaining cat was clearly in pain, sitting and watching out to the west all day.

Jackie and Dino came, listened and decided to head off into the steep and wooded open space preserve by our house.  The wind was blowing pretty strongly and, this being my first time hiring a tracker dog, I'm wondering what the heck I'm doing (crazy?  fool?).  Searching isn't organized and it was so steep, I was helping Jackie hold the lead while she scrambled, then I scrambled.  The dog, having four wheel drive, didn't care.

Long story short, after 20 minutes of scrambling, the dog made some gesture and Jackie reversed course and let the dog take its lead.  Heading DOWNWIND, the dog disappeared into a huge thicket that we couldn't go through.  I told her to let the lead go and I went to the other side about 75 ft away and crawled in.  A couple feet in, Dino had found the remains of our cat (coyote).  This isn't a happy ending, but when you read about closure, well, I can tell you it's important.  I brought the remains home and buried him in our yard.   I have no idea how the dog could smell that from upwind, but you could see he had a mission and he knew.  They smell like we see, I guess.  There's zero zero chance it was luck.

The second time, I was away traveling and my wife called and said our one year old cat had disappeared.  When I got home, on Day 6, i called Jackie and she came over.  We had an excellent scent article (EXTREMELY important).   Because this cat loved to go in a cloth shopping bag to hide, we set it up for him and the other cat never went near it... When my wife called to tell me the cat was missing, I told her to get a fresh ziplock bag and grab the shopping bag with a paper towel and seal it in the ziplock bag.

Long story short, we slogged down a long road and I called and clapped every block.  Jackie thought by the trail that someone had picked up the cat.  I never would have looked in that direction.  When I got home the cat was dragging up the hill itself.  He had heard me and backtracked my scent home.

Hiring a tracker is an article of faith, but if you're nutty about your pet, and have a good scent article (and can be a calm presence on the hunt), you increase your chances.  I don't believe success is guaranteed, but I'm a very rational person (engineer by training), and I've seen the dog do amazing things with my own eyes.

Darrell Strickler"

"We lost our beloved Malcolm. He just wasn't there one morning. We posted flyers and walked and whistled for several weeks. Following a tip from San Mateo Human Society, I contacted Jackie to see if she could help. I had absolutely no idea what to expect since my experience with search dogs is watching TV. I took the leap of faith and Jackie came with Dino late on a Saturday almost three weeks after Malcolm missed breakfast. She was very kind and professional. It's a difficult task with a lot of uncertainty. Where to look? Amazingly, Dino found Malcolm. Unfortunately, it was not a happy outcome since apparently a coyote nabbed him when he must have gone outside the fenced in backyard into the field.

But knowing was so important to move on. Being trapped somewhere between hope and despair is a terrible experience. It's so familiar from the paper when you read about a missing child. We were able to bury Malcolm at home under his favorite tree and start to move on. Jackie was very kind throughout and the service was reasonably priced."

San Mateo

Malcolm is a 14 year old DLH orange tabby. He is an indoor/outdoor cat that hung out close to home within a block or two most of the time. He had been missing for about three weeks when I was called.

Malcolm's person told me that Malcolm had last been seen outside the back of the house sitting on the top of the fence. The back of the house is up against an open space of deep canyons that included deer and coyotes.

We started out searching in the back of the house in the canyon. The hills were very, very steep with lots of very thick trees, bushes and brush. We were searching up and down the hills for any signs of Malcolm, when Dino was insistent upon going uphill into some bushes. We went up there and we found some remains that appeared to be from Malcolm. We feel that Malcolm had fatal contact with a local coyote and that it appeared to be relatively near the time of his disappearance based on the age of the remains.

(entered into lost pet questionnaire 2/18/10)