The drama in animal rescue usually comes before the adoption.
Louie came to us earlier this year. He was shy, having been raised with little human interaction. Our staff and volunteers took it slowly with him. He wasn’t aggressive or dangerous, just nervous and frightened. Slowly, he began to trust and show his gentle, loving nature.
As we go out in the community for adoption events, we sometimes take dogs like Louie. His socialization was going so well, we wanted him to meet new people and maybe find a home. At Telluride Farmers’ Market, a nice woman sat down and slowly started to pet him. They spent a long time together, and it seemed as if Louie had found someone who understood him and would invest the time and patience to make him feel confident.
Less than 24 hours later, Louie had escaped and was on the loose in Telluride. That’s when Project Find Louie started. Telluride is definitely a dog town, so the concern and engagement was high. We saw a heroic effort to find him by many: our staff and volunteers, other animal rescue partners, local businesses, his adopter, Telluride Animal Control and Marshal’s office, and concerned community members. Word spread through social media posts and shares, flyers, and great help from KOTO. We are still learning more of the activities and efforts that took place. The first few days, he was spotted in various places around town, then he seemed to disappear for several days. On the weekend, when Telluride is the busiest, we had no sightings at all.
Nichole and Christine (Second Chance Shelter staff) spent lots of time in Telluride searching for Louie. One afternoon he got close enough to take food from Nichole’s hand. As she reached for him, he bolted again. It was particularly disheartening because Nichole is one of Louie’s favorite people. Our hope that he would let someone catch him dwindled.
It became clear that we needed to change our strategy. One of our most dedicated volunteers, Bob Hennessy, became the point man for team Louie. We also had an experienced dog rescuer step forward and contact us through our social media. Greg was a wonderful source of advice and information. We learned that we were doing a lot of things wrong.
Louie was in survival mode and would run from people (as we saw when he ran from Nichole). He would find safe locations and hang out there. The area where we received sighting information seemed to narrow as time went on.
While it was crucial to spread the word, we needed people to report sightings with accuracy but not approach him. If he was frightened by people trying to catch him, he would move to new safe spots. Our job was to find where he was nesting and not disturb him. With the help of the community, we were pretty sure his safe place was a vacant lot behind some houses. We’d need to lure him into a trap slowly with food, water, and familiar scents.
We got lucky, catching Louie less than 48 hours after we changed our strategy. We were prepared for a longer wait and more creative measures. It was truly a joyous morning when we learned he was in the trap. Bob quickly retrieved Louie, bringing him back to us at the shelter.
Our new friend Greg visited Louie at the shelter when he was in the area on vacation. After some treats were offered, Louie relaxed and let Greg and his family love on him for as long as they were willing to do so.
Louie’s future home is still to be determined. We are keeping him safe and loved while he gains back the trust and weight he lost while he was out on his own. Since returning to the shelter, Louie is a different dog. He is more self-assured and open to interactions. Maybe his adventure on the streets made him realize how nice it is to have people in his life? He’s making great progress, and we’re sure his perfect person will find him soon. Until then, we are happy and grateful for all who helped find him.
Hi, I’m Louie. I’ve had quite an adventure, as you just read. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I’m still learning to trust people and enjoy attention. I’ll need a patient person to adopt me. No off-leash activities- I don’t want to get lost again. That was scary! I’m ready for a home where I can continue to learn, relax, and enjoy treats.
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