A STORY OF SAFE AND FOUND
DISCOVER HOW Foster the Australian cattle dog mix was tracked down after 12 days on the lam
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.”
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.
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.