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.