A STORY OF SAFE AND FOUND

DIS­COVER HOW Fos­ter the Aus­tralian cat­tle dog mix was tracked down af­ter 12 days on the lam

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - JON WELLS jwells@thes­pec.com 905-526-3515 | @jon­jwells

Fos­ter the res­cue dog cov­ered a lot of ground wan­der­ing in the Red Hill Val­ley, but in a sense it’s just a blip in an odyssey that saw him travel 12,000 kilo­me­tres from Tai­wan four months ago.

The black-and-white Aus­tralian cat­tle dog mix, who is be­tween two and three years old, was cap­tured at 10:30 p.m. Thurs­day af­ter an ex­haus­tive 12-day search that saw about 16 vol­un­teers work­ing shifts around the clock to find and se­cure him.

The res­cue team knew he had been hang­ing around King’s For­est Golf Club in the val­ley and sur­round­ing area, but catch­ing him was the chal­lenge.

In the end, ap­pear­ing hun­gry, hav­ing vis­i­bly lost a few pounds, he let vol­un­teers get close and he lay down on the 16th green at the golf course, where he al­lowed him­self to be held and pet­ted once again.

His orig­i­nal fos­ter owner, Brian Jack­lin, came to Hamil­ton from Kitch­ener to help reel in Fos­ter and keep him calm.

About four months ago, Fos­ter was taken in by Ham­mer City Paws Res­cue from a res­cue op­er­a­tion in Tai­wan.

That coun­try is no­to­ri­ous for poor treat­ment of an­i­mals, although it re­cently moved to­ward strength­en­ing an­i­mal pro­tec­tion laws, in­clud­ing be­com­ing the first coun­try in Asia to ban eat­ing dog and cat meat.

Fos­ter was be­ing adopted by a Hamil­ton fam­ily when he bolted out the open door of a car parked in a drive­way on July 30.

When he was caught Thurs­day night, he still wore the col­lar and leash he had on when he ran away.

It was dan­ger­ous for him to wear the dan­gling leash all this time on the loose, but he had suf­fered no in­juries when a vet­eri­nar­ian ex­am­ined him that night.

Vol­un­teers from Ham­mer City Paws and Dream Team Search and Res­cue com­bined their re­sources, tak­ing shifts, some on watch all night long.

“The feel­ing is ab­so­lute re­lief,” said Rosie Lid­bet­ter-Henein, of Ham­mer City Paws Res­cue. “It’s kind of emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally drain­ing.”

Vol­un­teers set up large cage traps with food in­side, but Fos­ter never took the bait, in part be­cause wellmean­ing golfers and res­i­dents kept of­fer­ing him food and wa­ter.

Plus, the dog is highly in­tel­li­gent, said Lid­bet­ter-Henein.

“There is a dif­fer­ence be­tween smart dogs and in­tel­li­gent dogs. Smart dogs will lis­ten to com­mands and re­spond to them; in­tel­li­gent ones will lis­ten to you, but think about it be­fore they re­act.”

It also didn’t help to ex­pe­dite the process when peo­ple not in­volved in the of­fi­cial search ran to­ward him, which only scared the dog away.

In the end, a strat­egy of pa­tience, giv­ing Fos­ter the free­dom to feel safe and come to the team on his own, paid off.

One of the vol­un­teers, Sundée Him­burg, es­ti­mated that from in­ter­est in the search ex­pressed on so­cial me­dia, per­haps 1,000 peo­ple were keep­ing their eyes open for the dog.

At the mo­ment Fos­ter was caught, and the word spread on smart­phones, a col­lec­tive cheer from vol­un­teers went up into the night.

“You get teary think­ing about it,” said Him­burg.

“Be­cause you are wor­ried about him all this time. He’s — he’s a good dog.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF LAURA FOX

Happy and emo­tion­ally ex­hausted vol­un­teers caught up with Fos­ter Thurs­day night, in­clud­ing Ken Price, in the red, of Dream Team Search and Res­cue, and Brian Jack­lin, hold­ing Fos­ter, who still had his col­lar around his neck.

JOHN RENNISON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Two traps were set up to catch Fos­ter at King’s For­est Golf Club. How­ever, the run­away dog ig­nored them when golfers of­fered him food and drink.

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