The Search for Duke

On this Veterans day, ABC not only celebrates those who have given us freedom but we also celebrate those who have helped in the capture of the very ellusive Duke of Troy.
Duke of Troy came to ABC from a bad family situation where he wasn’t treated very well at all and he went into a foster home in the Albany area. They had Duke for three months and they learned all about his quirks and issues. Duke had been confined to a small crate for some time and had developed arthritis in his back legs. Upon examination by their vet they determined that he was also blind in his left eye. He was easily startled if approached on his left side, as he couldn’t see anything out of that eye. His arthritis only bothered him once in awhile. His foster mom, Jeanne, grew to love Duke and he was enjoying living in the house and sleeping on the couch with her. Duke was bonding with their other basset and with Jeanne’s husband, Barry.
Three months later, Duke travelled from the Albany area to Niagara Falls to another foster home as he was to be adopted out to a family closer to the area. The day he arrived in Niagara Falls, Duke and his new foster siblings escaped from the back yard of his new foster home. He hadn’t been at this foster home or in the area for more than a few hours. He had just travelled with ABC volunteers across the state….he started to run and didn’t stop.

A week later, ABC was informed that he was missing. When they got the call and information on his last seen location; volunteers immediately went to the area to try to find him. They spent about 5-6 hours chasing Duke around Niagara Falls…down streets, through the creek, up creek beds, through fields and he evaded them every time they got close to him. Not one of them could believe this 6 year old basset hound who had arthritis in his legs and was blind in one eye could out run and elude every single one of them. Before they knew it, the sun went down and in a last ditch effort they passed out “Lost” flyers to people in the neighborhood and posted these same flyers on any phone pole they could find. Volunteers who weren’t out looking for Duke were posting “Lost” flyers, pictures on Facebook, sending emails and making phone calls.
After chasing him for so long they realized that they needed a bigger group of people to help catch him. They needed some people searching and some people at specific locations waiting to see him. So, a “Search and Rescue Team” was coordinated. Information was sent out to all volunteers and posted everywhere that they knew to post it.
In the meantime, Jeanne and Barry were informed about Duke’s great escaped and hopped in their car on Monday morning to help the search. They arrived Monday afternoon and met up with a small group of volunteers who had been canvasing the area he was last seen. These volunteers were not only ABC volunteers, but some of the people from the neighborhood where Duke had been hanging out. They had thought he was bedded down in the creek bed somewhere, but after walking the creek over and over and over without one sighting of him they had to give up for the night. But not before Bob Richardson set up a homemade trap with some hotdogs and bologna…just in case he was traveling in the area overnight. Bob, Jeanne and Barry spent most of the night walking the creek bed and checking the trap in hopes to see him with no luck.

This morning volunteers from ABC drove into Niagara Falls from all over NY and PA. They gained contact with the Niagara Falls Police early in the morning who were also searching the area for Duke. They sent out a group of about 15-20 volunteers to all different locations in the area where he was last seen. They searched the area for a couple of hours before he was spotted and the chase started. Duke was spotted by one of the neighbors laying in a pile of leaves and the chase was on. Calls quickly came in from neighbors who saw him running by their houses. He ran by Jeanne who realized quickly that he was too scared to know it was her calling him. There were volunteers who had eyes on him and chased him toward a footbridge when he evaded the police and ran down into the creek bed. Before they knew it…he was no where to be found. Volunteers stayed by the footbridge and other volunteers headed up and down the creek bed. A kind neighbor set out on the creek in his canoe. In about 15 minutes he had spotted Duke and calls came in with his location. He was chased toward the footbridge and all of a sudden he was there on the bridge with volunteers surrounding him. Bob knelt down and called his name and Duke came right to him. Needless to say Bob grabbed his collar as quickly as possible, so he didn’t run again, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have gotten past the other volunteers (including myself) on the bridge or the large group of people who converged on the bridge almost immediately after his capture. Pictures were taken. Phone calls were made.

Soon after his capture, a second collar and leash went on him to ensure he wasn’t going to go anywhere. Then Jeanne made it to the foot bridge and the moment she saw him she started to cry and if I saw it correctly half of the people on the foot bridge were also crying especially when Duke rolled on his back for belly rubs from his foster mom.

Duke was able to see all the volunteers who came to find him and then he was whisked off to Companion Care Animal Hospital down the road to be checked out. Jeanne wouldn’t allow him to be out of her sight for more than a few minutes and I think that is when a decision was made…Duke was to go back home with her and Barry where he was meant to be all along. The vet found nothing wrong with the fugitive (other than the loss of 8 lbs) and he was released shortly after. He got into Jeanne and Barry’s car and headed toward home to sleep off his 9 days of traveling around scenic Niagara Falls.

ABC volunteers searched, with the help of people in the neighboring area, Niagara Falls police and friends of ABC, for Duke non-stop for three days. It was amazing the amount of support that we received during this search. I can’t even come up with the right words to say “Thank you” to everyone involved in this endeavor. People took off of work. Spent days walking and talking to anyone they could to get the word out. People posted to Facebook and gave out flyers. I can’t list the names of ALL the people who helped to catch Duke today but they know who they are and that they are truly appreciated.

I guess the pictures from this blog go a long way to say Thank you to everyone involved. And after it all I can hear Shelly Gordon in my head saying “When you buy a dog, you get a dog. When you adopt a dog, you get a family”. That has always been the case with ABC and this situation just cements that fact. Let’s all take a minute out of our holiday to not only thank a Veteran but to thank a volunteer.
ABC gives a shit…that is for damn well sure.

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