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Thursday, November 26, 2009

"Buster", Border Collie, San Francisco

Buster is a nine year old, black and white, Border Collie. He is wearing a red collar with ID tags and a microchip. He was visiting San Francisco with his person at their work. Periodically, he would be let out and allowed to run around the area nearby, but this time he did not return back to the jobsite. He was spotted several blocks away at the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Highway 101. That is where we started our search.

Day One (day before Thanksgiving):
We found his track leading up a very long and steep set of concrete stairs that led directly into a another neighbor and then into another and another. At one point his track led through a set of projects where we encounter a loose pit bull racing toward us. Luckily the dog was a juvenile and scared back easily. Both of us wanted to get out of the area very quickly.

We continued to follow the track out of the projects and then through a community garden and then up to the back end of a school with a large grassy field. Here we encountered the second scariest moment of the day. We came across another loose pit bull charging at us, but I was able to get that dog to back off. However a couple of young punks decided that they did not like me doing what I had to to the pit bull and decided to charge both of us. One came at me and the other came at the Buster's person, who is almost six feet tall. We both tried to back up slowly to hopefully get these guys to calm down, but they didn't. I decided to call 911 on my cell phone in my back pocket. That was enough to get my guy to back off, even though he continued to call me all types of names relating to my white race and femininity. I tried to explain to the dispatcher where I was but I could not remember the exact street name.

Eventually both guys, since they were both either stoned or drunk, decided to go away. I later found out that the dog that charged us did not belong to either of these two punks, but to somebody else in the park.

We did continue the track which led through the park and out into the local neighborhood and then for several more hours continued all along Mission Street and into Daly City. Eventually, the track did cross Mission and then went through more neighborhoods and to the 280 freeway. Here we decided to stop for the day since it was dark and we were all exhausted. He asked if I could come back on Friday, after Thanksgiving. I said "Yes."

Day Two(day after Thanksgiving):

We started the search again in Daly City where we left off two days earlier. The track continued again for miles and miles in Daly City, along the area of the beach. The track led down to an area that connects to the beach and then it went all over and up and down paths along the beach. It was pretty frustrating because Buster went all over this area, criss crossing back and forth and going everywhere and down cliffs and up cliffs.

We finally went back out of the beach area and back up into another neighborhood, through a school and up hills and down. By then it was raining pretty hard, and Buster's person called off the search. He said he would continue to look for Buster.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Sebastien", DSH, Black, San Francisco

Sebastien is an indoor/outdoor male black with white DSH who is wearing a microchip. He had a pattern of not always returning right away, so his person did not become concerned for a couple of days when she started looking for him. There were a couple of sightings. We started our search from one of these spots.

Dot and Dino definitely picked up Sebastien's scent and followed it up the long, steep hill to the top of Twin Peaks. From there the track led up and down some streets and then went down to a dead end and up a deck. We went to talk to the home owner. He said that directly behind his deck and house there is a very steep hillside covered in poison ivy. We went around the block to the bottom of the hill to see if we could pick up Sebastien's scent at the bottom.

We did pick up his scent, and from there we went on a multi hour search following what we became to believe was Sebastien being carried. The track went through multiple neighborhoods, down Market Street for a long time and then it make a sharp right turn across Market Street. Then it went down a couple more blocks and then turned sharply to the right and then right again as it led right to the front door of USF. Sebastien's person went inside and checked around asking if anybody had seen Sebastien around. While she was inside I checked for a track from the door and outside. I did find one. I went back to tell her.

We both agreed that probably a student picked up Sebastien near the steep hill in Twin Peaks and then carried him on a bicycle all the way to the school.

She said she had put up flyers around the school. We followed the track out of the school campus, and through a couple more neighborhoods and all the way to the Embarcadero. From there the track made a right for a few buildings and then suddenly went into a building and all the way to the back. This was a large building along the docks (probably one of the piers, but I don't remember the number). There were several businesses in this large building. We contacted one of them, which was still open, but they had not seen Sebastien.

From that building, the track changed again. Per the track, it looked like Sebastien was now walking on his own. It looked like that the student that carried him to the school brought him to the pier probably because that person knew somebody who worked there and could leave Sebastien. After that, Sebastian somehow escaped and ran out.

The track now led down the piers and in and out of buildings and parking lots. At this point it was getting dark and Sebastien's person decided to stop the search and continue it on her own.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Guido", DSH, Grey Tabby with White, San Jose

Guido is an indoor/outdoor neutered, six month old grey tabby with white. He is wearing a collar with ID tags and he is microchipped. He is very friendly with strangers. He was missing for a few days when I was called.

A couple of possible sightings were made, but it was not sure if that cat was another cat that lives in neighborhood that also looks very similar to Guido.

We found a track that led out of the immediate neighborhood. Within a very short time, it appeared to me that Guido was inside a vehicle and had been carried out of the neighborhood. The track went through a neighborhood, through a school parking lot and through more neighborhoods. Finally the track went through a shopping center parking lot and straight up to a veterinary hospital. Guido's person went into the hospital and asked if they had seen Guido, and the staff there said "no." Directly next to the hospital was attached a large pet store. We were not sure if the person who picked up Guido went into the hospital and then brought him into the store. I suggested that Guido's person check with the staff of the hospital at the time he disappeared. She said she would go back to check.

The track did come back out of the hospital and then went down the parking lot and then made a right and into another apartment complex parking lot. From there it appeared to just jog suddenly off the the left and around another parking lot and then through another and through a business park. It looked like Guido was now on his own and not in a vehicle anymore.

The track continued like this for a shorter distance, and then it started to rain. I did not have a rain jacket and Guido's person needed to get to work. I agreed to get a ride back to their house, get a rain jacket and drive my car back to that spot and restart the track and to continue it.

I continued to follow the track for a few more blocks, which led into another neighborhood and around some blocks to a dead end. At this point I stopped per Guido's people to stop at a certain time.

I walked back to my car and then drove back to their house to tell them what I found. They said they would continue to look for Guido and to check with the hospital staff at the time he disappeared.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Makoa", Greyhound/Afghan mix, Union City

Makoa is a neutered two year old Greyhound/Afghan mix. He is wearing a black nylon collar with ID tags and he has a microchip. He is described as very shy of strangers.

He is also possily dragging a leash that was on him when he was attacked by a loose dog in Garin Regional Park. This park, which is part of the East Bay Regional Parks District and connects for many miles all the way down to Fremont and all the way east into the Tri Valley area. There are many private cattle ranches connected to this park with public access.

He was missing for less than two days when I was called.

His people had scanned the whole area all over the hills, but could not find him and there were no sightings. This included park rangers and park employees.

We started by going to the last known spot where Makoa was seen, and that was a short distance away. We went there and found his track leading up along the designated trails and fire roads. This went on for several miles winding all along the valleys and roads and cattle ranches and lakes. There were a couple of repeated trails, and back tracks. There were no additional sightings of anybody we asked along the trails.

We stopped the track after several hours since it would be getting dark sooner. They decided to continue the search on their own first thing the next morning.

"Shelby", Ragdoll, Saratoga

Shelby is a three year old brown and white DLH with blue eyes Ragdoll. She typically an indoor cat with limited outdoor access to the large backyard and front yard. She had been missing for a few days when I was called.

The last time Shelby was seen was on that Saturday morning when the landscapers came to the house and Shelby was inside. She has to be let in and out, so one of the doors must have be left open and she got out and was scared by the landscaping machines. Her people had scoured their yard and the immediate neighborhood backwards and forth, up and down and side to side since they were convinced that Shelby was hiding out or injured nearby. There were no sightings of Shelby.

The track we found led down the street and then made a left and crossed a very busy street. From here the track led around Saratoga and San Jose streets for a couple of hours and then it went right back to their neighborhood and passed directly in front of their home and kept going down the street. There was a deviation behind a house to a creek, but then it came back up and continued down the street.

From here it crossed into the high school, which was about a block away. The track went through the school and then out to the main street where the front of the school it.

From here the track went straight up the street for many, many blocks without any side deviation. I mentioned this to Shelby's person that this may be Shelby being carried, but I wasn't 100%. The track then turned to the right and then another right and then went straight down the street again. The track was on the side of a vehicle driving, so we could certainly still consider a car.

Then the track turn left and went a couple of more blocks, and then it turned left and then stopped alongside a large neighborhood park just in front of a walking path that went through the park. The track then immediately turned left into the park and followed the paved path through the park and then went to the public restrooms and the scent went into the restroom. Then the track came out, continued along the path paved and then made a left along the sidewalk and continued alongside the park to a walking path that goes along San Tomas Expressway, which went for a long distance (several blocks) along STE.

At the next intersection, the track went right and crossed STE and then went straight along the street.

After about the distance of two blocks the track suddenly turned right up a driveway, which was some type of corporation yard for the City of San Jose. Unfortunately, it was after 5 PM and the yard was closed. We looked all over the different signs but could not find a phone number to call. We looked up and down the fence but could not find another possible way in.

Shelby's person called another family member at home and asked them to look at this place and try to find a number. In the meantime I checked up and down the driveway, but the dogs did not indicate a track leading out. Since we don't know the time frame on this, either Shelby was still inside or was taken out from another gate. From where we were standing and it was dark but this time, the place looked very large with several possible exists.

We all drove back to Shelby's home and they asked me to take the dogs through several neighbor's houses to double check that Shelby was not in these yards. I agreed to do this.

We walked to several houses and we did a "find felix" which is a general cat search without following a specific scent since we know that Shelby's goes to these yards.

We searched several yards, but did not find Shelby anywhere. While we were doing this, Shelby's people got a call from the City of San Jose responding to their request to search the yard. I said I would go to the yard if there would be somebody to meet us, however, The City said they did not have anybody at that time (around 7 PM) to meet us. They said that somebody would be there the following morning.

My best guess about what happened to Shelby is that she was picked up at the high school by a student that was on a bicycle or skateboard. This student got a ride from the school to the park by a person in a car. From the park that student rode with Shelby to the City corp yard because they knew somebody there, like a relative, who could give them a ride home. That is what I explained to Shelby's people.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Oscar", Yorkie/Poodle mix, San Francisco - Found!

On Wednesday, December 23, I received the following email

"Oscar is home for the holidays. Thanks for your help!"


(Search Details)
Oscar is an adult Yorkshire Terrier/Poodle mix. He is wearing a collar with ID tags and a microchip. He had been with his person for about a month after being adopted from Pets Unlimited in San Francisco.

Oscar was walking with his dog walker off leash in a park, when something spooked him and he ran off. Another dog walker ran after Oscar and saw him run into a park on Steiner and Geary, and that was the last time anybody saw him. The dog walker had to get back to his own dogs. Oscar had been missing for a few days when I was called.

After having a bear of a time trying to find a place to park in that area (we finally had to park in a Safeway parking lot and walk over!), we got to the park where Oscar was last seen. The track led out of the park, down the street, up another street and crossed Divisadero. There is a lot of construction is being on Divisadero, and the crosswalk is blocked, so we had to make a three point walk around the intersection to follow the track down Geary, which actually went directly through the construction. This was my first clue that something unusual was happening.

The track continued down Geary block after block after block. That was my second clue. After a few blocks, Oscar person had to turn around and go back to work. She told me how far to go to see what I come up with and then I would email her with the results.

A few blocks down, the track went through a large construction zone that extended out to the sidewalk. The sidewalk was covered with scaffolding and very loud. This was my final clue that Oscar had been carried down Geary and not walked on his own. This combined with the track going straight down Geary without any deviation or side roads and walking through two big construction zone, neither which a dog on their own would not do, led me to believe that Oscar probably was picked up and carried away in the park where he was last seen.

I emailed Oscar's person later that day to tell her to look for Oscar in the Sunset and Richmond area and to have the flyer translated into a common Asian language like either Chinese or Mandarin.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Khloe", Black Pomeranian, Sparks, NV

Khloe is a 10 month old black unspayed Pomeranian who was also in heat at the time she disappeared. She was not wearing a collar, nor was she microchipped. She had been missing for 10 days at the time I was called. There is one additional dog in the house.

I made the four hour drive to Sparks, and I hit a freak snow storm on my way up. Since I don't have four wheel drive or chains, just a large heavy van, I decided to go back a couple of exits to wait for a clearing in the snow report. After about 45 minutes, I lost the snow report on the radio. I guessed it was because the conditions where no longer existing. I decided to get back on the road and proceed slowly. Before hitting the summit, the ground and everything around me was covered in snow, but the snow had stopped and chains were no longer required. There were stranded vehicles on both sides of the roads that were covered in snow. It was very eerie. The sun was out and shining. I am not a snow person in any way, born and raised in San Francisco, however, when I lived in Trinity County in 2008 I developed a very deep respect for snow and ice and I have not forgotten those memories.

I made it to Sparks by about 11 AM. We quickly went over some paperwork, got a scent article from Khloe's things. There had not been a single sighting of Khloe since she went missing. The last time she was seen was around 11 PM in her backyard, which had wrought iron bars in the fence wide enough for her to get through, and in the past she had gotten through, and ran around behind the apartment complex, but then always came back. Directly behind the complex is another complex and a golf course that is not unfenced. In fact, when we were standing there reviewing and discussing the options, a man walked by on the golf course walking his dogs off leash without a care in the world. I asked if that was common, and neither said they had seen that before.

While Khloe and the other dog were outside "doing their duty" their person quickly walked inside to answer a phone call. When she came back outside, Khloe was no where to be seen. The other dog had come back. An extensive search of the immediate area was initiated, including police officers. No body saw a sign of her.

I had a 50/50 shot at which way to go since she could have gone either left or right. Since she had been known to go to the right, and the was part of the extensive search (the left had not been search as extensively or at all, I don't remember), I decided to start the search going to the left and see if a track existed. I found a track leading away from the apartment, along a water drainage pipe and out to the street, and then it went down the street, made a left into another neighborhood and then to the end of a court (which is open to the busy street behind it)and out along the street where road work was being done. Her track went down to the next intersection, across it, made a left over the blvd and then down into another apartment complex. From there is where the search took a permanent long range turn.

Khloe turned down a very, very, very long walking path (several miles) that literally took her and us to the other side of Sparks. The walkway had a waterway on the left, and houses all along on the right. There were multiple ways where she could have gone into these house but she never did. Her people were totally stunned that she would have gone down here and gone this far. They were confused what her motivation would be.

This path literally dead ended at another street and then led right into a pasture with several horses. Since we could not go into the pasture, I decided to check the other sides of the pasture to see where she came out.

The track came out near the street we were just on and then head down the street again. I never had been to Sparks before, but I had no idea how wide and flat it could be.

The track went down to a small neighborhood park, where Khloe circled it a couple of times (probably looking for food). The the track crossed over a very busy street (remember she was doing this crossing sometime in the night, so the traffic would be a lot less.) Then it went through a small shopping center (food!) and then back out to the street. Then it turned into a neighborhood, went around that and then out to an open space area.

Then it came back out and went up the busy street for a long distances before it went into another neighborhood. Then the track went around and around and up and down and back and forth in this neighborhood. There were many backtracks and then out into an open space that was even scary to me. It was wide open on the base of a mountain. It all low scrubs and was definitely jack rabbit and coyote country, and it was getting dark. I wasn't interested in being there at dark. However, Khloe didn't seem to mind. She walk alongside it, which also borders on a school. The track went around the school and back out to the neighborhood and then back around to another court where we had been two additional times. We talked to several people and nobody had seen her, probably because she was still traveling at night.

Since it was almost dark and getting very cold and I still had a long drive home, we decided to stop the search at this point. Khloe's people said they would continue the search on their own.

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Smokey", DSH, Grey, Oakland

Smokey is an indoor/outdoor adult neutered, solid grey DSH. He is not wearing a collar, nor does he have a microchip. He was missing for four weeks at the time I was called.

Smokey had a couple of different ways he would leave, so we checked first the most obvious, which is on a side street where an alley from behind their house leads to. I walked Dot and Dino around the area to have him pick up the most current track since Smokey's scent was all over the area. Dino immediately picked up a track across the street and around the corner and up the block to a street just behind their house. There is a side street that would lead back down to their area. I bet that this was probably a regular routine for Smokey. However, this one particular day, why did he not come home?

The track we found continued down the street and then crossed MacArthur (?) Blvd (which is a super busy street) and then up another street, made a left and then another left back down to MacArthur and then it make a right through a crosswalk and then straight up MacArthur for several blocks. Something did seem very strange about this track. The track was directly up the street without any kind of deviation back and forth and in and out like a cat walking. I began to think that Smokey was somehow being carried. I stopped and told this to Smokey's people, and they agreed that they did not feel Smokey would walk on this street since he always exhibited total fear of cars. We were thinking of either in a car or walking or bicycle.

After a few more block, the track led up the street for several more blocks. Then, all of a sudden the track when up a set of concrete steps. So we could rule out a car. Either a pedestrian or bicyclist. We kept following the track through another neighborhood and then straight toward a shopping center. The track went along the stores and then straight back to the a place where there was a set of benches that wrapped around a large concrete planter.

From here the track then suddenly changes and took off around the back of the shopping center. My belief is that Smokey got away from the person who was carrying him. The track then went around to the far side of the center to a construction site. Just inside the site, underneath some temporary chain link fencing were several bowls of cat food and water dishes. Smokey's people said they checked this spot about a week after he went missing. I asked them if the construction site was here when they came by then, and they said "no." That means that Smokey crossed through this area, so we needed to find the track where it came out. The food indicates that somebody knows there are cats hanging out in the area. I suggested leaving a flyer at this spot.

We continued to follow the track which went up the street and then over a lawn in front of a cemetary. The track went all the way through a cemetary and to the back to where the chain link fence stops. Then the track went to the left up a high mound of dirt over some concrete items and to a large area with dumpsters and other trash items. From here the track led back through the cemetary and back out the front gate.

From here the track went through some neighborhoods and up some hills and through a park. Here we unknowingly entered an off leash dog area, and suddenly had a large german shephard mix come barring down on my dogs. I yelled at the owner to get his dog, but just stood there staring at me. I was able to forcibly get the dog from going forward and stop him in his tracks and run yelping back to his person, with the person still looking at me dumbfounded. Eventually he put his dog back on leash and walked out. As I learned later, where he was at was outside the off leash area. I have my dogs on leash and he needs to have his dog under voice control even if he was in an off leash area. I always try to look ahead and ask people to hold their dogs back and I never allow my dogs to have direct contact with another unless in a valid and fenced off leash dog park (except for Fort Funston in SF due to it immense size). Eventually we followed the track through the park with additional problems with off leash and dogs not in voice control.

On the other side of the park, Smokey's people wanted to stop the search since one of them had to go to work. They explained that they would continue the search on their own.

"DJ", Yorshire Terrier, San Jose - Found!

DJ is a nine month old, neutered Yorkshire Terrier. He is not wearing a collar and he is not microchipped. At the time he was lost, he slipped out of his collar, which held his ID tags. Normally he was walked on a harness but this particular time he was walked on his collar. DJ was staying at a relative's house while his person was on vacation. He had been missing for about four days when I was called.

His caretaker took him for a walk up to the end of the street when DJ got scared by a large vehicle quickly coming up along side him, turning quickly behind him and then stopping. This spooked DJ and he slipped out of his collar and bolted down the street. His caretaker chased after him and the last time she saw him he was turning the corner of the street. We started the track from there.

We found the track went down the street and around the corner and back to the neighborhood where he initially got loose from, but there wasn't anybody there waiting for him. The track went back down the street and out another street and then make a left to eventually cross over San Tomas Expressway, a very busy street. The track then went down a walking trail that parallels STE.

From there for the next six hours, the track went through San Jose and into neighboring Saratoga through parks, high schools, up very long walkways, along more trails, etc. Just around the sixth hour when we were about to stop due to loosing light, DJ's person got a call from a relative that DJ had been found! A person called to say that she had picked up DJ recently along the street near the Saratoga/San Jose border (exact location I did not get) and that she would be bringing him over to their house.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Tux", DSH, Tuxedo Black with White, Berkeley/Oakland border

Tux is a ten plus year old, neutered DSH. He is not wearing a collar nor a microchip. He showed up at the Botanical Gardens in Tilden Park a couple of years ago and stayed. He is outdoors for the day and sometimes would come in at night, less in the summer and more in the winter. He had been missing for one week when I was called.

The person who went with me was a top volunteer at the garden.

Per their request, they wanted to give the garden a quick look around in case Tux had been hiding and they did not find him in their initial checks. The garden is very well maintained, so I did not think that he was able to keep hiding without being seen. The biggest challenge is that inside the park all the plants are protected so I had prevent Dino from lifting his leg anywhere. I had him take care of his business outside and I told him he was not allowed to do that inside because the plants were very special. He did not attempt to lift his leg until we were outside.

What I did was to walk Dino around the office and have him check for the most recent scent to see what direction Tux last went to. We found a track away from the office and around some of the paths and then out one of the large water pipes that went out to the street. From there the track went into the golf course that is just across the street. We checked for a track leading out from that gate, but we did not find anything.

I checked on the main road in both directions, but did not find any tracks leading out. There is another road just across from the main gate that is closed in the winter, and that road had been closed just three days prior. We did find a track that led up that road for a couple of miles that deviated a couple of times into parks and then through the parks and back onto the road.

We followed the track up the road and then it went onto a hiking trail that went in and around the hillsides for several miles. I had no idea where we were, but the person I was with said she knew where we were. We eventually followed the track back down to a parking lot that was near the edge of Oakland and Berkeley.

The track led down into Berkeley and through some neighborhoods and then back onto a fire road that led into the hills alongside and near the Berkeley campus. At this point, Tux's person decided to stop the track since we still had a long way to walk back and it was getting late and it would soon be dark. She said she would continue the search for Tux at that point. She said she still wanted to have us check the garden again just in case Tux was still there.

We checked the garden again, but still did not find Tux.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Kody", Maltese/Coton de Tulear mix, Los Altos Hills

Kody is a white, four month old unneutered Maltese/Coton de Tulear mix. He is not wearing a collar, nor does he have a microchip. He was in his yard, when he got scared of the loud landscaping machines. He got out through some open slates in the gate that leads to the driveway. There had been no sightings of Kody.

We found the track leading out of the driveway and down the street and then down the next street and down the next to the main street. The track went through the downtown area and continued down the main street.

The track went up through some homes with large open spaces behind them and around them. We went to a few doors to let people know he is missing. The track continued up a street/road to where the road ended at a large metal gate. We attempted contact with the home owner. There were two large well groomed standard poodles barking up a storm at us, so I didn't figure it would be too long before somebody came out.

A caretaker of the large property eventually came out and we told them who we were looking for and he let us onto the property and follow the track. The track went through the parking lots and then down through the vineyard all the way to the bottom and then back up (a very steep hill with steps going down but none going up alongside the fence. The track went all the way up to a type of enclosed patio which is enclosed by a four foot tall retaining wall along one side. Dino indicated that Kody jumped up onto the wall and hopped through to the other side, which was underneath one of the houses. We had to go around to get to that spot.

When we got there, we found the track went under the house and then down the steep hillside and then under the deer fencing. Kody's person went around outside the house to the bottom of the hill and met me there. The track led up the street and then down a court. Here he stopped the track due to other commitments that afternoon. He said he would continue to look for Kody on his own.

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