Peaches is a white, 10 pound, 12 year old, deaf, spayed miniature Poodle. She is wearing a collar with ID, but does not have a microchip. She was last seen around 1 AM from her home, a very large farm, when she was let out to go to the bathroom. She did not return, which is her regular routine.
She was missing for only a couple of days when I was called out.
Most of the property is fenced. Since it was totally unclear how she exited the massive property, and there were two choices: either the front gate, which was closed, but she was small enough to get through the metal bars. Or the back field, which was where she was known to hang out to check out the area, and that is where the door to the house is, so that is closer to where she would be. I walked the dogs all around the two barns/storage buildings letting the dogs check out the whole area to determine where her scent left the area from. Her people were convinced she left by the back field, since that was her usual hangout. Both dogs indicated she left by the back field, so we followed that down the "lane" in between the two plowed fields.
It has just rained the night before, so the mud was so thick, it stuck to my shoes and to the dogs' feet. The track led down the lane and then went to the left at the end and then turned around and headed to the right. I mentioned to Peaches' person who was with me that I was noticing a large amount of large paw prints all in the mud. She said she knew that coyotes frequented the field and also neighbors' dogs would regularly come into the field and roam around. She said that is standard in the area for dogs to roam around the property, and there didn't seem to be a concern about that.
The track went around the property following a lane. And then it went across another neighbor's property and then around and around another type of large open property that appeared to be a type of construction site of some sort. There were large ponds and dirt roads and piles of dirt. Once we left the farm, we never saw another person while on the four hour search. It was totally remote and isolated, but this is where Peaches' track was. We also did not hit any concrete until we finally came out to the main highway again. The roads and tracks were also very thick dirt and mud.
Finally we got to the main highway and this is where the track let up a bit to another cross road and then crossed over the highway and kept going down the road in the total opposite direction. At this point Peaches' person stopped the search. She didn't want to go more than the minimum for financial reasons.
My two best guesses were that either Peaches was being carried by a wild predator, like a coyote, or by a neighborhood dog or she was walking on her own and she was picked up on the highway by a passerby. My strongest guess is that she was being carried by a predator. Being deaf, she would not have heard a predator nearby. And due to all the large paw prints in the mud where we walked, and to Peaches' confirmation that neighborhood dogs were known to frequent the area, predators were very common there.
As of 3/15/10, I have not heard from Peaches' person if she has been found.