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05 April 2009 @ 10:02 pm
black-lab and tin lizzy versus I35  
Friday driving back to Mpls from Duluth (having been hanging out with my Mom while she had shoulder surgery Thurday) I saw and picked up a stray dog on the freeway - yes ON the freeway:

On I-35 just north of Pine City I happened to see a black dog off in the ditch next to the freeway just moseying around, and then I was past her driving 70 mph and all. I entertained about 5 secs of "Should I/Shouldn't I...?" - which was promptly decided for me upon seeing the barbed wire fencing off the adjacent field - leaving her nothing but low-to-nil chances of her making it back anywhere on her own other than burnt toast on the freeway.

That decided - I got off at the next exit, headed back north, flipped an illegal u-ey in the highway patrol turnaround, then cruised back until I spotted [what turned out to be a] her again and pulled off onto the side of the road with my flashers on, hoping to gods I wouldn't spook her into traffic.

I pulled up parallel to her and opened the passenger side door, equipped with leftover fried potatoes that I'd grabbed along with long-gone-quiche at the co-op in Duluth before leaving town. I called to her in the usual don't-know-the-dog's-name sorts of ways - and she started a bit before deciding that maybe there was food involved and that maybe I was worth coming up and checking out.

She poked her head into the car at me and took the potato pieces I offered - but she was in no way going to jump into the car, and she spooked at any movement I made towards her. So I just kept her interest with the potatoes while I carefully looped the flexi-lead I had in the car into a slip lead as I saw that she had no collar on. Figured I could just slip that over her head then get her on in the car - but despite all my calm cool deliberate movements - she just shied away anytime my hand got near with the lead.

After 5 or 10 mins of this standoff where I just kept talking to her and trying to keep her focused on my food so she wouldn't wander off, some guy pulled over in front of me, got out and came back towards me asking if everything was ok and if I needed an help. The dog spooked and took off back behind my car and right into traffic. I hollered at the guy "thanks - but just please go!" and started panickedly trying to shoo her back into the ditch area.

The guy seemed to get that he was being more hindrance than help, and he got in his van and took off. Meanwhile I somehow lured the dog back with more potatoes - of which I was about out, so I grabbed a ziplock of 4 crackers laying on the dashboard - the last of any food in the car. The scenario by this point was me in the driver's seat, with the car about 4 feet off the white line, while the black lab was standing within arms' reach but still skiddish and poised to run.
Traffic (thankfully) seemed to see that s/thing sketchy with a loose dog was going on and thus mostly drove by over in the far lane, while I was sweating bullets hoping against hope that a) the lab wouldn't bolt right into traffic, or b) I wouldn't be part of one of those Cops (the show that my dad most <3's in the whole world) scenarios where someone just lane-drifts and inadvertantly takes out someone pulled over on the side of the freeway - taking out me AND the dog.

I sat there for - no exaggeration or hyperbole folks - the next 20 mins at a complete impasse with this dog. She was skiddish about being roped/grabbed, but otherwise she was the picture of the Buddha - she stood completely unfazed by the traffic zooming by (in some cases mere feet from) her ass. I got her to sit (she was clearly a fairly obedient and somewhat-training dog) - and she plopped her butt right there on the white line - looking at me for some more eats. Meanwhile I was out of potatoes and had resorted to breaking the 4 crackers into small but still-interesting pieces to try and keep her motivated to come closer or at the very least just not to back up INTO TRAFFIC.

In that 20 mins I'd had a number of unsuccessful attempts at slipping the lead's loop over her head, each time she ducked back/out and I only just barely managed to keep her from spooking backwards into traffic. I was freaking out that I would not only fail in getting her at all, but worse that I would directly cause her to bolt and get run over.

Somehow I pulled myself together - gave myself a little stern talking to with the voice of Cesar Milan (no kidding - because yes I am a total Dog Whispherer nutter;) in my head: "you have to be calm and assertive - if you're upset and anxious, you're just going to make the dog upset and anxious and then it's done - whether least-worse [you miss your chance] or worst-worse scenario [the dog gets run over]."

So with no crackers or potatoes left, only the empty box that the potatoes were in (in which there were a few bits of onions left), and looking like I was about to lose the last of the dog's wandering attention, I came up with a last ditch plan: I made about a 2-ft diameter loop with the flexi-lead and laid it on the ground, then put the potato box right in the middle of it. She cautiously stepped in towards the box and out her nose happily in and started to lick and slurp, while I held the lead carefully and firmly - knowing I'd have to be quick and decisive in my yanking so that the box didn't get in the way and that she didn't have a second to bolt out before I close the loop.

Somehow - magically, unbelievably - it worked. She jumped, backpedaled, and bolted, but the loop closed around her and I had her, actually had her around the belly as her front legs were in the loop when I yanked it closed. But I had her :D. Once she realized she was a caught dog - she suddenly ditched all the skiddishness - now she was a happy gregarious pup who was more than enthused to jump in the car.

So with her in the passenger seat and me in the drivers seat still holding tightly to the leash and making sure she wasn't going slip out of it and go out the passenger side door (which was opened from earlier trying to get her in that way), I managed to reach/crawl over the top of her and get the passenger closed.

And then we were good. :) I drove back to Mpls planning how I'd make some postings to try and find her family, while fostering her for a few days as needed, then speculating further what I'd do if we couldn't find her people. When I got home I made a couple posts to Craig's List in the Lost/Found and Pets sections, plus listed her on a bunch of websites like petfinder.com, as well as calling it into some shelters in the area.

I started calling her Kizzy and she was one of the most wonderful sweet dogs you could ever know - I felt bad for whoever was missing her. She hung out at my place that night, and my friend Kili offered to take her for the day saturday, as Kizzy (despite being the sweetest temperament dog ever) and Dax (who's a hater :) were having some major personality problems.

I got a number of responses inquiring about lost huskies and yorkies (I was all hyper-paranoid in my initial CL posts and just posted "found dog" without specifying what kind to minimize any frauds - which now I'm quite certain wasn't necessary ;) - I hope all those who inquired find their pooches :(.

Then yesterday evening I got a post from someone "Is it a black lab? My boyfriend works at Wings North (a sportsmen's club in Pine City, right off the freeway from near where I picked Kizzy up) and he said that some folks brought in a flyer this morning for a lost black lab..."

So I looked up the number for Wings North, talked to some guy who knew exactly what flyer I was talking about, and gave me the number listed on the flyer. I called the number and voila - I was in touch with Kizzy's - actually her real name is Salty - with Salty's family. The mom was out of her skull happy - apparently they came home Thurs night and the front gate was open and Salty was just gone. So they got my address and jumped in their truck and came over to pick her up.

It was so awesome - their 7 year old daughter came along and was just beside herself happy, the mom was crying, and the dad was just clearly so happy to have found her. And Salty was flipped out happy to see them as well.

So to whatever chances and people and powers-that-be out there who made this all work out so awesomely - thank you. Happy family and happy puppy and happy me. :)
 
 
 
freakchelle: socksfreakchelle on April 6th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
Awww, that's awesome! Warm fuzzies all around!
kooky haberdashery for the rich: applausesueg on April 6th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
It is so nice that this story has a happy ending, and the dog wasn't dumped!
thomasprophetthomasprophet on April 8th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
you are so rad. what poise and patience; and in a last ditch effort with all the biscuits on the line you come up with a genius plan and win the day... good for you! I kept thinking, that if i were the dog i would have held out for all the potatoes too.