“It Takes A Village To Bring Home a Dog..”
On July 20th, Nicky, an elderly shepherd mix escaped from his new adoptive home by slipping through a hole in the fence. For 47 days, a rescue team made up volunteers from multiple animal welfare groups tirelessly worked to bring him home. Read below to learn the extraordinary story of his return home! Click here to donate to PAWS New England to help us bring home two other lost dogs.
How Nicky Came to PAWS
In early January, PAWS received an email from about a woman who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and placed into hospice care. Her dying wish was that her eight dogs be placed in safe and loving homes. Unfortunately, this woman has passed away before PAWS was able to make arrangements for such a large group, but we did ultimately find a place for the eight dogs, one of which was Nicky.
All of these elderly dogs had only known a life in an outdoor pen. They were undersocialized and most of them had never seen a vet. Nicky was especially reserved and unsure of his surroundings, but his whole life turned around when the incredible owner and staff at Pet Companions decided to bring him to their beautiful facility. The folks at Pet Companions taught Nicky how to live again. He was introduced to comforts like dog beds, toys, and treats that he had never seen before. Nicky was fawned over and eventually placed into an adoptive home where we thought his “happily ever after” was a done deal.
47 Days on the Run
Sadly, within the first few days of getting to his new adoptive home in rural New Hampshire, Nicky escaped through a faulty area of his adoptive family’s fence.
The volunteers from Pet Companions and PAWS immediately sprung in to action and organized search parties, flier postings, and set up a “Have a Heart” humane trap. After a few days with no success, they sought the expertise of Granite State Dog Recovery (GSDR)- an-all volunteer group dedicated to providing community alerts, guidance, equipment, and manpower to assist in relocating lost dogs.
GSDR set up a feeding station close to where Nicky had been lost and placed a motion detection camera to monitor the site. It wasn’t until three weeks had passed, that the team gleefully announced that they caught Nicky on “candid camera!”
For the next two weeks, Nicky visited the feeding station a few times a day. Volunteers from Pet Companions and GSDR traveled two hours each way for nightly “stake-outs” in hopes of being able to catch our elusive Nicky. There were multiple close calls where Nicky would be standing only ten feet in front of volunteers, but he was in a panicked state and ran away each time anyone came too close. Other nights, volunteers were forced to abandon their Nicky search because of bears and coyotes in the area. Nicky was outdoors during the hurricane and endured temperatures of greater than 100 degrees. This served as a constant reminder that Nicky was in danger every night he was out loose.
Finally, the expert at GSDR decided that Nicky would most likely never enter a “Have a Heart” humane trap, no matter how hungry he was. They devised a plan to place a magnetized large net over the feeding station and drop the net of Nicky while he was eating. Volunteers continued on next to no sleep and thousands of miles in the car traveling back and forth to visit the feeding station each night.
The Dramatic Capture
The team arriving on September 5th included volunteers from GSDR and the NHSPCA. Team leader, Holly Mokrzecki, had advised that Nicky not be fed the night before to ensure that he would be starving and likely to make an appearance.
Utilizing a video camera broadcasting live feed over a wireless network and a baby monitor to transmit sound, the team sat and waited in the pouring rain for Nicky to make an appearance. When hours had gone by with no Nicky, everyone was about to pack in for the night- but something made Holly tell everyone, “Let’s just give it five more minutes.”
Sure enough- their patience was rewarded with Nicky appearance! He tortured the team by circling around the net for fifteen minutes before finally heading under the net to get something to eat. Holly called out for the net to drop and two volunteers sprinted in to get Nicky.
Nicky, having no idea what had happened, thrashed around and tried to escape- but the volunteers acted quickly and managed to get him into the safety of the car. From the moment he was in the car, Nicky was obviously relieved. He began to lick the face of his rescuers and collapsed into the warm blanket they provided.
The Road to Recovery
Nicky was immediately rushed to the vet where he was found to have an ulceration on his eye and was terribly malnourished. He was a bony, skinny skeleton of his former self and weighed a frightening 37lbs (when he had weighed 57lbs originally).
Incredibly, the vet told the group of volunteers that Nicky was likely to make a full recovery with rest, plenty of food, and lots of love. Nicky’s eye is being closely monitored by Dr. Adam Parker at Porter Square Veterinarian to determine if it needs to be removed. Nicky’s eye was most likely injured by a branch of in a scuffle with a wild animal. Dr. Parker has graciously volunteered his time and expertise to this case and we are forever grateful to him!
And Nicky has a new home waiting for his. Lizz Cestrone is an employee of Pet Companions and was one of the most dedicated of the volunteers. She made over 10 trips back and forth to New Hampshire to search for him and has not a good night’s sleep since Nicky has been missing. We know that Nicky and his new Mom and Dad will finally get the “happily ever” after that he deserves!
How Can You Help?
PAWS New England has been blown away by the expertise and unrelenting support that Granite State Dog Recovery showed Nicky. They were an invaluable asset during this ordeal and provided essential tools like the cameras, trap, and large magnetic net.
We are imploring all our supporters to consider making a donation to GSDR to assist them with operating and equipment costs. They currently are looking to purchase a “net gun” which is a tool that would shoot a large net a missing dog. The cost of the net is $1,700. If we had had this tool, Nicky would have likely been caught two weeks into this rescue effort.
To make a donation to GSDR, please click here. Show them that you support the incredible selfless work that they do!
You can also help GSDR by “Liking” their page on facebook. One of the most effective ways to help find a lost dog is to spread the word via social networking sites. The more friends they have, the more successful they will be helping lost dogs find their way home.
PAWS Would Like to Thank…
Nicky’s biggest cheerleaders, aka the staff at Pet Companions. Lizz Cestrone, Brianne Knox, Kerry Hilderbrand and Jill Reagan. Almost every day, a staff member from Pet Companions would drive two hours in each direction up to the sight where Nicky was lost to look for him. The dedication shown by the staff at Pet Companions was simply extraordinary. PAWS would like to send a HUGE thank you to the lovely, fabulous, and gracious Judy Basteri who never wavered for even one second during this long ordeal. Judy has been countless hours organizing search parties and coordinating this search and rescue from afar.
Everyone at Granite State Dog Recovery, especially Holly Mokrzecki, Anne Manning, Lori Bertrand, Susan Keenan and Anne Woodcock. Simply stated, without the help of Holly Mokrzecki, Nicky would still be lost. We are in awe of Holly and the phenomenal dedication she shows (not to mention this woman’s unbelievable ability to operate on no sleep!) to missing dogs. She is a true modern day hero!
PAWS volunteer Christine Metcalf who aided in the search many times and never stopped believing that Nicky would be caught!
And finally, we would like to thank Steven Sprowl of the NHSPCA for his incredible support, the Berg family for the daily checks of the trap and food, Brian From Boston Animal Rescue League, Dr. Adam Parker from Porter Square Veterinarian for all the free care he has provided Nicky, and all of the people who shared Nicky’s story, went out looking for him, and worried about him whose names are not mentioned here.
Holly said that “it takes a village to bring home a lost dog” and her words could not be more true. We hope to be able to write equally wonderful endings to the other two PAWS dogs that are currently missing and that we give hope to other dog owners missing their pets. Please consider making a donation to help bring these other dogs home!