Helping dogs can be hard, especially when they are scared. I had a heck of a time trying to get a fearful dog back with his family after he ran off at the veterinarian's.
The dog’s name is Duncan. He was purchased by a family who wanted a beagle. It wasn’t until they brought him to the vet that they found out he was a foxhound.
I first became aware of Duncan through my sister Blake, the patron angel of seizure dogs. One morning Duncan had a seizure. His parents brought him to the doctor’s, where he has a second one in the parking lot. When he recovered from that episode, he was disorientated and scared. He pulled so hard on the leash he broke his collar. He ran away and didn’t stop.
Duncan had been a couch potato with no survival skills. Confused and scared, he took solace in a place where people have gone to escape their troubles: The mall.
Duncan’s family was desperate to find him. They put flooded the area with flyers and created a Facebook page. Soon the calls began to pour in. Duncan was outside the mall. Several people had approached him, but he was too scared to go to them.
His parents became frequent visitors to the mall, even spending hours at night walking around it, but they did not see Duncan. One day they brought Quinn, Duncan’s puppy brother, with them. Quinn suddenly began barking and pulling on his leash. Forty yards behind them, Duncan was following them. His mom tried to approach, but Duncan ran.
Duncan’s flight instincts had fully taken over. At night, huddled behind a dumpster, he prayed to be back home. I visited and told him his house was in a subdivision right behind the mall. All he had to do was walk there. Duncan wanted to go, but when he started, fear overtook him, and he retreated to the mall. I had no idea how I could help him.
I took a fly around the area and found what had him spooked. There were coyotes in the woods behind his parents’ house. It was too dangerous for him to make the journey.
His family was desperate to bring him home safely. They put a trap with food inside, where he was most frequently seen. But Duncan never went in it. After that, he disappeared from the grounds.
He was seen walking in an area covering 12 miles. One night he wandered into a family friend’s yard. They called Duncan’s people. A new trap was constructed, with his favorite jerky treat hanging inside. They also put trail cameras up so they could watch the trap.
Duncan began walking around the trap. I flew down to advise him. He was scared to get the treat sensing something was amiss. I repeatedly told him that going inside was the best decision he could make. Finally, he did, and the door closed behind him.
His parents had watched it all unfold on their cell phones. When Duncan was secure in the trap, they hurried to him. At first, Duncan didn’t react when he saw his parents, but then he noticed his human brother Greg, and he began to howl. They opened the trap door, and Duncan licked the tears from Greg’s face.
After 53 long days, Duncan was back home, sleeping on his couch as if nothing happened. His parents wished they could forget the ordeal as quickly as Duncan had.
They took Duncan to the vet where, despite losing 14 pounds, he was in good health. There was still no answer to why he had the seizures, and his parents are going to keep a close watch on him, but for now, all is right in their world.
Never count out a dog. Given a chance, they always find their way home.