Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday we had planned to have a Micmac Search Party Party, but Memorial Day weekend turned out to be a bad choice. So I went to Kathy's house in Amherst and she, husband Darren and I drove around putting up posters and dropping cards in newspaper boxes. It was an awakening for me. There is a LOT of undeveloped land around her house. On my first visit, it seemed to me that the area was mostly suburbs, but once you get a mile or two from the house, there are pastures and woods and farmland. Miles of it. We drove down country roads where there were no houses for miles.

The animal communicator had said to look for an old shed. We probably saw 50 of them. If Mac has gone feral and is living in the fields and woods, he has an awful lot of room to roam out of sight of any humans. It does seem odd though that there have been absolutely NO sightings of him in the past three weeks. I'm still fairly well convinced that someone has him, but I now only believe that about 60-40 instead of 99-1.

Although Darren understandably has a hard time believing that a puppy as well-socialized as Micmac -- who loves everybody and everything -- could simply decide to return to the wild, it is a common occurrence with whippets and some other breeds who for whatever reason, end up on their own. Even the most socialized dogs seem to flip a switch in their brains and go into survival mode. They won't even come to their owners when they are in this state.

I first heard about this when I got into whippets, and my initial thought was, well, those dogs were simply not very bonded to their owners. But as I learned more about it, I discovered that it really can happen to any whippet at all. Some of the ones who have taken off and "gone to ground" are dogs who were sleeping with their owners the day before. It's a strange thing, and it doesn't happen to every whippet on the run, but it happens to an awful lot.

It's actually a good thing because they survive very well this way. Aero, who belongs to a friend, escaped from a yard in unfamiliar territory in West Virginia. He was being transported to a new home and was traveling with someone he didn't know. The dog was missing for 61 days in the mountains in winter. It was six degrees some nights. Two months after his adventure began, he was spotted in a garage stealing cat food. He wouldn't come to anyone, but when someone came back with a couple of whippets, he approached. They caught him, and as soon as the leash was snapped on, Aero was back to himself. Very strange.

But wherever Micmac is, I think the answer is still to spread the word and let as many people as possible know there is a large reward out there for him. Whether someone spots him or has him confined, $500 ought to encourage some action.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cruella DeVille in Amherst?

I'm beginning to wonder if Cruella DeVille (tm - Disney) hasn't moved to our little town. When we were putting flyers up for MicMac, there were already a bunch of flyers up for a pit bull who has gone missing. My husband was out talking to people in the streets that back up against the woods behind us and they said they've had two dogs go missing lately. And this morning there was another flyer on the pole at the end of our street for yet another missing dog.

The people my husband was talking to were mainly farmers, and they're going with the coyote theory.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Micmac Update

Or lack thereof.

So, we tried a second animal communicator. I went with one somebody actually knew, vs a 'friend of a friend told me' type person (Dianne Tamm sent you the recommendation, Jo) and, frankly, we feel worse now than we did originally. Basically what she said was completely and utterly opposite to what the other lady told us.

This was the first message, after we'd emailed back and forth a few times:

"Ok, back to your boy here...when Diane first asked me if I could check what the other communicators said, I had looked at Mic's photo and right away saw and could hear, water, wasn't sure if it was a stream, good sized river or what, as I was seeing Mic standing near it looking at something he was fascinated with, it was rocky around the edges, then a bit of a dirt clearing, trees all around.

I've asked Mic if he has been home, he kind of danced around that one, but did finally say he has...late, when it's dark. I asked why he didn't stay put...he said he was having fun and loves looking at everything, especially water. And I'll talk with him much more from work, just wanted to connect with him, as I also felt he has been home...quick hit and run style.

Where I went from your house when Mic first went missing was out the back, heading through the woods, then he cut over to Grandville Rd, from there up to the water running through the area...I've marked on the map everyplace I am getting Mic has been...keep in mind dowsing isn't an exact science, he has probably been further in either direction then the general route I've marked, I always tell people to spread out from any areas marked.

I did not get he has crossed any major hwys, but is staying in a pattern back and forth. Oh, I did ask about food...he said food's no problem, he's either caught small stuff to eat (got any rabbits around ??) or raided open sheds, places like that where people leave out cat food...they always seem to find cat food ! He is staying away from people. And I also got the cemetery...another popular spot for missing ones for some reason.

Right now I'm dowsing the area just beyond Lake Dr, in-between there and that small street or road that leads over to Grandview.

I had to zoom these down to get in a larger area...Virtual Earth was horrible on showing your area. I've got several maps to take with me tonight...wanted to get this one to you. I'll see if Mic has any kind of time pattern between day and evening that is regular or if he's just winging it. He's not stressed out at all, pretty much in love with life is what I get from him and in his own little world right now. Animals don't have any real conception of time as we know it, they really do live in the moment...away from home, especially when out moving around, every moment are also survival moments and using their basic instincts that kick right in, even for our couch potatoes.

When this happens there is certainly a break between family ties, you can help center them a bit by visualizing a "Beacon Of Light" over your home (like a lighthouse) that they can see from wherever they are. Think of revolving light sending out positive/happy memories of home, family and things you have all done together, while I work on a different kind of family reconnection for you all."

and then this was from last night:

"Macbeth was a bit light trying to talk to a 2yr old last night, cuter then heck, but a tad rebellious also right now. He just doesn't think there is anything wrong with going wherever he pleases, and I've certainly had more than my share of young ones say that. They can really stretch "free will" to the limits at times. And he is just about the right rebellious age that all dogs go through to some degree or another.

I keep getting a glimpse of him curled up in something that reminds me of a den...could be a fallen tree trunk surrounded by old growth too...whatever it is you could literally walk right by it and not see him ! I'm going to say absolutely widen out from the areas I marked on the map...and if you didn't get the map, let me know and I'll resend it. I wasn't finding a pattern time wise last night but will keep checking that. In the interim...I'm trying a couple of different
remote methods to re-connect Mic to home...and that does take time for it to click in their brains"

When we first got Doodle, she hadn't had much to do with people. From what I remember Yvonne telling me, she'd spent most of her life crated on the lady's back porch. And even then, when we finally found her a month later, she was ecstatic to see us, as if she was saying 'About
time you guys finally found me!' - and we'd only had her five weeks when we went missing! So I just really, really don't see MicMac happily roaming the woods by himself, when he went from being one of 11 puppies into being one of a four dog pack and he's such a snuggle bunny and...

Darren's really depressed, actually - I think he's feeling it the worst.

So, hopefully my vet friend Chris' really bright posters will bring us something. We'll see.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Micmac and the animal communicator

I told Sharyn on Saturday that a friend at work had a friend who had worked with a pet psychic on one of her horses. Although we all laughed about it, her friend swore blind that this lady knew stuff about her horse that she hadn't mentioned (including details like he missed the yellow horse that used to be in the yard next to him - there used to be a palamino in the yard next to him but why a horse would know the word 'yellow' I've no idea) and that what the PP told her about his health problems were confirmed by the vet. So I figured what the heck, and emailed the lady. I got an autoreply saying she was booked solid through the 16th of May, but she did email me personally a few hours later saying she was sorry I'd lost my puppy and while she was really busy, here was the names of another person / couple to try. So yesterday I emailed them and we had the following exchanges:

Me: Hi - Debbie McGillivray gave us your name, as she is booked solid through mid-May. Our puppy went missing on Sunday 4/26 and he seems to have completely disappeared. Nobody has seen him around town - not even on the day he disappeared. We are fairly certain somebody has him - it's just a matter of finding that someone.

If you could let us know if you could help us in some way, we'd really appreciate it.

PP: So sorry that your puppy is missing. Yes, I'd love to help and if it's ok with you, my husband (Tom) is a communicator and he would like to help also. We need some details:
1. location where he went missing
2. description to include color, markings, breed, age, gender, etc.
(email a photo if you have one)
3. his name
4. where he lives (if different from where he went missing)

Just so you know, we are not presently set up professionally, so there is no cost to our service. Once we receive the information above, we will attempt to communicate with your puppy. We will then contact you to let you know what we received.

Me: Oh – thank you! We are starting to worry that he may be dead, but we feel sure we would have, well, found his body by now if that is the case.

He went missing from our house in Amherst, Virginia – we live on Blue Ridge Lane. He is a six month old male whippet (photo attached). His official name is Macbeth, but he answers to both Mac and MicMac.

It just seems so strange that nobody has seen him roaming around – we’ve had dogs go missing before (my other whippet has made quite the career of it) and someone always SEES them, even if they don’t pick them up. So we are kind of at a loss – we’re hoping that somebody saw him out of the yard and picked him up (there was a spot in the fence he could have gone through, and he had been out once or twice with one of our other dogs but they always came home nicely) OR picked him up out of the yard and took him home and just haven’t seen the multitude of posters we’ve plastered all over town.

I was a little surprised to have a reply when I got in to work this morning, this is from 8.00pm last night:

PP: I connected with MacBeth tonight. He's a very energetic, fun loving dog. He would like you to know that he's not injured and is OK but does want to come home. Here is what he told/showed me -- He and the other dog were out wandering and investigating. A white van stopped and MacBeth got in the van. The other dog took off. It was a white van like a worker's van with a sliding side door and panel doors in the rear with windows. There were two men with brown hair and looked to be in their early to mid twenties. They drove straight for awhile and then there was some stopping and starting like as if there were traffic lights. They went over what felt like a railroad track and shortly after that they turned left. Then they turned right and then another right (like about a block apart) then they turned right into a paved driveway. This is where they got him out.

The driveway was on the left side of a small white cottage type house with some small decorative white fence along the driveway and front yard and a front porch with railings. There's a small garage. The back yard is solid wooden fence where they take him to go potty. He is being fed and cared for but when he's in the house he's in a crate/kennel (like the wire kennels). He can hear other dogs barking on the street but there aren't any others in the house. There are neighbors on both sides of the house and the houses and layouts all look the same (older neighborhood). There is a mailbox and I see the numbers 835. He said even if he got loose he wouldn't know how to get home to you. He thinks if you put flyers up in neighboring towns/villages at the post offices and grocery stores. That was it for tonight. I will try to connect with him tomorrow and see if he can show me more about the neighbors and if anyone has seen him. If I get more I'll email you.

So. I'm not sure what to think. I'm not too sure about the 'he and the other dog' bit, because the space we found Doodle had to work at to get through - she only really did it because Darren was calling her from outside the fence - that morning when I'd been outside with our lab, she was inside looking pensive :) I would have been skeptical about the jumping into the van bit, except Darren told me after he'd read it that last time they went to Sweet Briar (which was Saturday) he did jump into our van himself - he loathes travelling in the car and normally you have to argue with him a bit about it. There is only one traffic light in town, and I can't think of a railway track however our roads are in fairly poor condition and so that wouldn't be too different to the railway line bit. So - interesting. Helpful? Not so sure. Guess I need to go hunting for houses with a number 835 in front of them...


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Update on the search efforts -- Mac is still missing!

The kindness of the whippet community just staggers me sometimes. Between the generosity of the Whippet Playdate group and the Timbreblue family itself, we have had plenty of money to be able to extend the search for Micmac. We believe that someone is keeping him and that if we can get enough coverage, we might be able to "flush him out." There have been no sightings since he left home -- not even the day he left.

Although there are wooded areas around his house, they are thin woods -- you can see houses on the other side -- and those have been searched thoroughly. The road immediately in front of his house is residential and not busy, but there is a highway about 3/4 mile from his house. It would seem if he had been killed, his body would have been fairly easy to find. (I can't tell you what it does to my stomach to even type those words)

We did use the Find Toto service twice and it is very efficient. When we were putting up flyers and going door to door putting them in mailboxes Saturday, we talked to at least a dozen people who mentioned that they had gotten the calls. The calls went to houses at least seven miles out from Micmac's house, and probably much further. (They provide a call log, and I Googled several addresses for their distance from the house)

We placed an ad in the Lynchburg paper -- lost and found -- for the weekend, but that was $71 and I'm not sure it's cost effective.

One of the our Timbreblue owners is doing a mass mailing to all vets within 60 miles and we'll expand that as possible.

We've listed him on several lost dog databases, including Find Fido.

And Amherst is plastered with flyers! When we met Saturday to search, one of our owners stopped at Hardees with her dog on the way into town. She was approached by a man waving a flyer, demanding, "Where did you get that dog??" So I'd say Amherst is aware.

I'll be back up there at some point this week replacing flyers and taking down ragged or wet ones. (We put many of them in plastic sleeves) and to stop by as many shelters and pounds as I can find. We've contacted them by phone and Micmac's owners have been to the Amherst shelter in person.

We're going to do our best to get some TV or at least radio coverage and I have someone working on Facebook and Twitter -- trying to come up with a YouTube idea, maybe just of our search with a gaggle of whippets, but we don't have video yet. This coming weekend is Mothers Day, so I don' t think it's fair to ask folks to come look again, though I will go earlier in the week. If he is still missing by the following weekend, May16-17, I'll try to get a large group of people with whippets to come and see if we can get some TV coverage. One angle is that this pup is Vivi's nephew -- yes, the Vivi of New York fame who has still not been found. Micmac's father is her half-brother.

I passed out flyers at the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Sunday and asked them to post them at their vets. Here is a flyer -- if any of you could print it out and post it at your vets and send it to animal control, we would sure appreciate it. There is no telling where Micmac might be if someone traveling through picked him up. He has an umbilical hernia and a retained testicle, so between that and his markings, he should be easy to identify. He is chipped with an Avid microchip.

Again, thank you all so much. The printing costs are pretty high and of course, any advertising is very expensive. So money helps a whole, whole lot. And your prayers and encouragement are also critical to the efforts. We're keeping the faith.

Sharyn Hutchens
Timbreblue Whippets

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saturday's search party

I set out from Lexington with Party and Candy for Kathy's around eight am, but stopped at Walmart for markers, tape, various "lost dog kit" supplies. I had gotten 300 flyers and 800 postcard-sized cards printed Friday. On the way out of Walmart, I stopped to give a dollar to some kids collecting for cancer (okay, not FOR cancer, but for research), then got Party and Candy out to poop, even though we had left home half an hour before. Amazingly, they didn't need to, but the kids saw them so I grabbed some of the cards and gave them to them to hand out with their literature and baked goods.

Got to Kathy's only 15 minutes late and met Sirius (Lab), Doodle (Afghan/Whippet) and Agnes (old whippet) Shortly after I got there, Roxann and Polo arrived from Richmond (a two-hour drive). Roxann, even five months pregnant, was slim, trim and gorgeous. Some people... : ) We left all the dogs except Polo with Kathy's son and friend -- I told them not to bother takng Candy and Pafrty out. They had both pooped and peed when I got them out of the car as I arrived. The three of us and Polo got in Kathy's car to hang up more flyers. She's right: Amherst is small. And it's difficult to seach because it is mostly one long busy highway with subdivisions off to the sides. But we handed out flyers and cards to everyone we ran into, including folks at a yard sale, went to the downtown district (two realtors, a barber, a restaurant, a hardware store, and city hall) and pretty well covered that area. Polo was a perfect breed ambassador -- calm, obedient, well-behaved. I was glad my two had not come. He would have put them to shame.

We spent an hour and a half or so, then went back to Kathy's, where Candy and Party had both peed and pooped on the floor. Roxann had to get back home to Richmond for a Derby party, so I headed on to Lynchburg to hit the vets and other places. But while I was still trying to figure out where I was, I got a call from Kathy, who said there were more people with whippets at her house. I headed back over there to find Jill and Mike with Jace and Melissa and Mike with Poppy. Melissa and Mike had driven 2 1/2 hours to come help with the search!

We rounded up all the whippets (except Agnes, who was not at all interested in joining us) and set out to walk the neighborhood. Kathy had already covered the houses immediately around her, so we went on out to the highway and walked for at least 50 miles (okay, maybe three) with the dogs. That was actually very effective. Lots of people stopped to ask us what they were and the usual, and we gave them all flyers and told them about Micmac. Many of them said they had gotten Toto calls. We plastered posters on utility poles and stuck them in newspaper boxes. The dogs were all great. Jace was the youngest, and he was incredily well-behaved. Party was her usual pleasant, affectionate, non-obnoxious self, Poppy was cute as a button -- a tiny mite who absolutely insisted on being in the front of the pack -- and Candy after a few miles was tired enough not to have to jump all over anyone who slowed down near us. The people who stopped to talk to us actually believed they were well-trained dogs.

Well, the bottom line here is we did not find MicMac and we did not find anyone who had seen him. The good news is that we ran into a LOT of people who had received Find Toto calls and others who had seen Kathy's flyers. I would say 99.9% of the people we talked to were friendly and receptive and I got the definite feeling that if they saw him, they'd call.

But the best thing that happened was when Jill and Mike stopped at Hardee's just as they got to Amherst. A man came running over to them with a Micmac card, demanding, "Where did you get that dog?"

I left with the definite feeling that Amherst knew about MicMac and would let us know if they saw him. Next week I'll try to get more done in Lynchburg, I think. It's a much bigger city and I need to figure out where to get the most mileage from the flyers. My club is having a match on Saturday so I will send home cards with all of them. Also, tomorrow at the Federation meeting I'll make an announcement and give every a card and ask them to please tell all their own club members. If as many of you as possible could print out the flyer and send it to the vets, animal shelters, and pounds in your town, it sure can't hurt.

I am really aiming at getting this little boy as much publicity as Vivi. Okay, he can't possible reach that status, but we're aiming high.

Maybe next week....

Sharyn Hutchens
Timbreblue Whippets --

Friday, May 1, 2009

Search party -- 5/2/09 -- Let's find Micmac!

If anyone is in the Lynchburg, VA area and would like to come help us look for MicMac tomorrow, let me know and I'll give you directions. To be honest, we are sure someone has him. There have been NO sightings since he escaped his yard, and I believe (and pray!) that the Kreegers would have found his body by now if he were dead. (I hate to even type those words).
Our search party is more to call attention to the fact that a lot of people are looking for him and perhaps encourage someone to report a friend or turn him in. If we can get media coverage, we will (he is Vivi's niece -- Micmac's sire is Ch Bohem Just in Time, a half brother to Vivi) so perhaps that angle will help.) Tomorrow we are planning to take our whippets and hand out more cards and flyers.

Unfortunately there will also be a search for a legally blind man lost on the Appalachian Trail in that area tomorrow. I had planned to call the media to see if I could get them interested in our search from a human interest angle -- the Vivi connection and the fact that there are so many people involved in this search -- but it seems a bit trivial to be looking for a dog when a human life is at stake nearby. But perhaps MicMac will turn up on the trail....we'll try to let someone in the search know about him if there is a way to do it tactfully.

Anyway, we are meeting in Amherst (where Micmac lives, just outside Lynchburg.) It's about 50 miles from Charlottesville and 100 from Richmond. I'll be glad to give directions to anyone who can join us. Bring your whippets -- this will be mostly putting up more flyers in Lynchburg.

Timbreblue Whippets