Since November 2012, people have spotted this beautiful lab living in a large field in Mesquite. Animal Control tried multiple times to trap him, as did many citizens, but he was too fast and too wily for them.
In early January, DT6 was contacted by two Good Samaritans who had been feeding this dog daily and wanted to take him in, so we came out to investigate. It didn’t look good. The dog had a very wide open space and knew it well. Traps didn’t seem to work, and we had nowhere to secure panels. He was also very skittish, so he didn’t come within 100 feet of any of the people who were feeding him. As you can see from his photos, MANY people were feeding him.
We knew that it was up to our Good Samaritan Sherry to capture this dog, since she had the capacity to spend the time it would take to win over this dog’s trust. When we met, Sherry was putting food and water in some dishes through an opening in the fence, but had not tried to get close. We counseled her on ways to build trust: talking to the dog in a soothing voice, sitting flat on the ground while averting her eyes so that she did not assume a threatening body position, not extending her hands to the dog and not making any sudden movements. We asked her not to crouch in front of the dog (attack position) or smile wide (baring teeth). Many small suggestions, but ones that would help her in her mission.
In the first week, Sherry made significant progress! Luke, as she calls him, was starting to come closer and closer and was starting to eat in front of her (a sign of trust). Then Sherry began bringing him high value toys – tennis balls and stuffies – that she had slept with to get her scent on them. At first he did not know what to do with the toys.Then he started picking them up and taking them into the woods where he slept. She kept talking to him, making sure he knew her voice.
In the coming weeks, Luke would start running towards the fence when he saw Sherry’s car approach. Then she gradually started to approach Luke, while still maintaining a non-threatening position, never staring him in the eyes, making brief eye contact and blinking rapidly, then looking away. Luke started to come within a few feet of her – a huge improvement from her starting point.
We felt we should try a trap to see if Luke would be more amenable to it if Sherry brought it. He was very curious and looked all around it, but Luke is a big boy and seemed to need to crouch down to get in. After a few hours, we removed the trap and let Luke calm down, and left Sherry there with him so Luke would know everything was OK. A few hours later we received an excited text that Luke had taken food from her hand through the fence!
On Wednesday, February 20, we got some great news – Luke came up to Sherry and stood still while she slowly approached with her hand and allowed her to pet him! We decided to try that Friday to lure him into a pen, but Sherry actually went out one additional time on her own and was able to get Luke on a leash. After a few minutes of uncertainty, he hopped right into her car!
Sherry’s first stop was to her vet’s office, where he spent the night to decompress. We later got some bad news – Luke is heartworm positive and had tapeworms and hookworms. Sherry is committed to getting Luke well, but heartworm treatment is very costly and we would love to support her since she’s come this far.
This rescue would not have been possible without this Good Samaritan’s patience and dedication. DT6 can only be in so many places in a given week, and the more help we get from the community, the more animals that will be saved.