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Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Nova", Great Pyrenees, Sonoma - Found!

(Note from Nova's person)
Hi Jackie.

Nova and I are still thrilled to be reunited. Thanks for your help!!!

(details from the search)
Nova is a three and a half year old spayed Great Pyrenese. She has a collar with ID tags and a microchip. She and her mate, Zeus, have free roam of a multi acre, totally fenced in ranch. Her primary purpose is as a guard dog to prevent wildlife and predators from coming in.

For the months following her disappearance, she and Zeus would periodically leave the ranch and wander down to the Plaza in the middle of town. The caretaker would receive a call and go pick them up. It was discovered that there were some holes in the fence that was allowing them out, onto another neighbor's property and then onto the road into town.

In the week just prior to Nova's last disappearance, all those holes had been patched up and double checked.

Nova was last seen laying on the dirt road between the new house under construction and the house of the caretaker. Within the hour, she was reported as missing from the ranch and how she got out remained a mystery.

Since the dogs did not have any separate bedding and slept in a fenced paddock on the property, the only scent article of either dogs was a shared wire brush. And both dogs' scent was equally all over the ranch. My idea was to show the dogs the brush and then show them a clump of hair from Zeus and then to tell them to follow the scent on the brush that was not from the clump of hair. But first we had to find out how she got off the ranch from seemingly a totally fenced in place.

We did go up to the spot on the ranch where the previous holes were and confirmed they were still secure and they were. From there I showed Dot and Dino the scent article and started the search. We checked all along the road back down to the main houses. Both Dot and Dino went around the former pond and out to the road that led toward the large electronic gate. The scent went out the gate. The caretaker was stunned because he said that he never left the place that day, which was Sunday, and there were no workers coming onto the property to work. Then he suddenly remembered that he did have one visitor that day, but only for a short time, and it happen to be around the last time, as he recalled, that he saw Nova lying on the dirt road near his place. Mystery solved!

Now we had to find Nova and where she went to. There had not been a single sighting of Nova in town or anywhere near her past haunts, and this was a very large white dog. She would have been noticed. So my guess was that she went in a totally different location than in the past.

We followed a track that went literally "over the mountains and through the woods" for the next several hours. The track went up and down hills, crossing roads, up to houses, around houses and then straight into the mountains that are in an open space. There were no roads or trails to follow, just the scent trail from Nova that the dogs were following. Occasionally we would see a partial deer trail, but rarely. Remote would barely describe the area. We didn't see another human for almost the entire five hours. Luckily, Nova's caretaker was a very nice and interesting person and we had a lot great conversations.

Eventually we came to a very large winery and went through that fence and up to their road that led to a back winery. The grapes were delicious. I did not know that grapes from the vine could taste so delicious. I thought they would be bitter. The track went all the way through the winery all the way up to their electronic locked gate. The dogs indicated that the scent went through the gate. But how, we asked?  How did Nova get through? Did she wait until the gate opened and then bolted through? How long did she wait? The weather had been very cold and rainy the previous few days.

Once we climbed the fence and the dogs went under, and we got out onto the road, we left open the possibility that maybe Nova got picked up and put into a car. We followed the paved road leading down the hillside for several miles. The weather was very cold, and foggy and starting to rain.

The trail led straight down the road without deviating at all off to the side. More of an indication that she was in a car. The track led all the way up to the driveway of a house and there it stopped. The dogs indicated that the track led no where else. Nobody was home at the house, but the house was very well cared for with a lot of elaborate gardening. We were now in Agua Caliente, directly on the other side of Sonoma Mountain from the town of Sonoma and Nova's house.

Nova's person talked to the neighbor next door and said that those neighbors were out of the country on business and were regularly gone for long periods. I noted that obviously the house and garden were being cared for by somebody pretty regularly. My immediate guess was that there was a connection to this house and the winery that we tracked Nova from up the hillside. Also there were a couple of "winery" decorations around the outside, but it is Sonoma county so that could just be a coincidence.

Nova's person decided to focus his recovery efforts in that area and to distribute flyers and posters. By this time is was pouring rain and I was cold and tired and it was getting dark. We still had to get a ride back.

I got a phone call from Nova's person about one week later that Nova had walked back onto the ranch. She was sans her collar and she was very hungry and thin. He said that he would have never believed where Nova was tracked to other than that he had received a couple of calls from people saying they saw her walking around Agua Caliente a couple of times by herself.

My guess is that she made it back over the mountain back home following either her own scent or that of the caretaker.  And, I believe, the people who had her in Agua Caliente had attempted to keep her, and removed her collar. Something went wrong and either they let her go or she got away from them.