Anyone who knows me knows that dogs are my passion. When I’m not writing, I’m usually involved one way or another with our canine companions – volunteering at the Humane Society, walking/playing with my own two rescue dogs, or doing what I can to help out our local rescue group – The Sedona Independent Humane Trappers. I first got involved with the Trappers when a dog went missing here in the Village of Oak Creek where I live. Sightings were posted on our Nextdoor app and, since at that time, the Trappers didn’t have access to this site, I acted as liaison, passing messages back and forth. During that tense time, I became friends with one of their members, Stephanie Dunshee, and while the story I’m about to relate here is primarily Skye’s story, it is, in a sense also Stephanie’s.
The tale of Skye’s rescue began when another local trapper group, Yavapai Humane Trappers, called on the Sedona group to help find a missing aussie/doodle from California, lost north of us in Flagstaff. Stephanie and the Sedona trappers drove to Flag to put up posters and help search the area. But, as soon as they arrived, they got a call from their lead, Sandy Macbeth, advising them that there had been a recent sighting of another dog lost in the area – one who had been out on her own for a while. That dog was Skye.
Stephanie and the others dropped everything to search for her. A rancher provided information that Skye had been living in the National Forest behind his home and, when they arrived at the location, there she was, standing behind a group of trees, staring at them.
Stephanie immediately took action and, keeping the dog in her line of sight, slowly crawled through ant mounds, elk poop, and pine cones to get close to her. Skye, on alert, watched the trapper’s every move, darting from tree to tree, eyes never leaving Stephanie.
As Stephanie moved slowly toward the frightened dog, she used calming signals so that her presence wouldn’t spook Skye. For those of you who aren’t familiar with dog calming signals, but are interested in learning them, please visit this YouTube video on the subject,
Okay, back to the story! As she slowly covered ground, Stephanie cried like a puppy, then would stop and look away, yawn, and smack her lips, pretending to eat the Vienna sausages she had with her as a lure. Every yard she traveled toward the wary dog was slow and painstaking and designed to allow Skye to become accustomed to her presence.
After approximately three hours, Stephanie finally got within eight yards of Skye, noting that the dog had dug herself a little den-style bed under the trees. Stephanie did the same and the two – human and dog – sat calmly in each other’s presence.
Careful not to startle the pup, Stephanie flicked a few pieces of sausage toward her. The hungry dog definitely wanted the yummy food, but it took hours to get her to actually take sausage from Stephanie’s hand. But still Skye was wary and, though she licked the trapper’s fingers and let Stephanie caress her face, she wouldn’t get close enough for Stephanie to get a hand on her collar.
Finally, out of sausage, Skye became disinterested in Stephanie. Knowing this might be the only chance they would have to catch this elusive dog, Stephanie crawled to where another trapper, Sandy Macbeth, was standing by with a rotisserie chicken. Stephanie took the bag of chicken in her mouth and then crawled back toward Skye. As she approached the dog, Stephanie whimpered like a puppy and, lo and behold, Skye, hearing her, once again became engaged.
“I had to feed her the entire chicken,” Stephanie said later, “to get her to trust me.”
Finally, with trust established, Skye allowed Stephanie to grasp onto her collar and secure her with a slip lead.
“She submitted,” Stephanie explained, “gave me her belly and wanted petting.”
Stephanie then called Sandy and together, they put an additional leash on Skye to ensure that she was secure and walked her out to where Teresa from a third rescue group, Northern Arizona Animal Search and Rescue (NAASR), was waiting with her car.
This successful rescue is an example of the selfless work done by our local trapper group and by trapper groups all over Northern Arizona. It truly takes a village and their dedication to bring these pets home is amazing.
Skye was returned to her owners and NAASR is now working with them to ensure that their fences are made secure. The work these groups do is fantastic and they stories they have to tell … well, maybe someday I’ll write a book about it!
Seriously though, these groups are staffed by volunteers who pay out of their own pockets for gas, food, treats, flyers, and sometimes lodging. If you would like to donate to help defray these costs, The Sedona Independent Humane Trappers has set up a Go-Fund-Me page and any amount, no matter how small, would be greatly appreciated. Here’s the link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/lost-pet-trappers-sedona-flagstaff-verde-valley?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer
To find out more about the Yavapai Humane Trappers, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Yavapai-Humane-Trappers-Animal-Search-and-Rescue-Page-105446410803189
To find out more about Northern Arizona Animal Search & Rescue, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NorthernArizonaAnimalSandR.org
Thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoyed the story of Skye’s amazing rescue. If you did, let me know and, maybe, I post more. Linda
5/26/21, 4:54pm – Update: I’ve just been advised that this wasn’t Skye’s first adventure on her own. No, apparently she has been a bit of an escape artist. Recently adopted, she got out of her yard on two previous occasions and was successfully trapped each time by NAASR who have been working with Skye and the family. The rescue noted above was her third adventure and, hopefully, her last!
As I said above, it takes a village…