Lucy on the lam... Private eye helps find ShihTzu on 2-week journey

from Lucy's family...
Surviving the Search for an Extreme Roaming dog

case notes from Karin...

Private Investigator Karin TarQwyn

When a dog goes missing and it has the behavioural profile of  a STARS dog, (Shy, Timid, Aloof, Reserved or Skittish), the dog will most likely become a Roaming dog at large.

 Lucy can be shy and skittish.

Our girl Lucy!

The Lucy we knew...

Lucy is 1/2 Shih Tzu; 1/4 Bichon and 1/4 Toy Poodle. They call this Designer Dog a "Teddy Bear". She was our tender little fragile "baby. We only had big dogs before....lots of them. Lucy was indoors, never slept outside, was always on a lap, slept on our bed; went with us on every car ride, interacted with us on pretty much everything we did. We played chase with her in the house. She loved to fetch her squeaky toys. When she was little we even carried her in a little purse like bag! Lucy is a scairdy cat. She follows us at our heels 24/7.
Lucy before she went missingShe is even afraid to go outside to go to the bathroom by herself and will try to fake us out by running to the back door right away when we let her out the front door. Lucy was also medically fragile. She was born with only one lung AND she has an abnormally small trachea. The vet says if she ever gets pneumonia that she probably won't survive it because she has no lung reserve with just one lung. And because of her small trachea, it collapses and spasms. So, Lucy gets into these breathing attacks. We have to pick her up, let her body dangle and give her albuterol which is a bronchial dilator. So I hope you get the picture, Lucy is our little cuddly indoor dog "Princess" that we can spoil her in ways that we can not spoil our two bigger dogs.

Many dogs are affected by the emotions of their family members. Many dogs go missing during a crisis.

Lucy's family was experiencing a family emergency when she went missing.


Certain breeds are more prone to roaming behaviours than others. ShihTzus are known for traveling great distances in a short period of time.

Although considered to be a Teddy Bear... a mix; Lucy is half  ShihTzu. Many shy ShihTzus resort to extreme roaming behaviour.


The classic roaming dog at large scenario can occur when a dog is lost in an area that is not it's home territory. The dog is not bonded to the area and will leave... many times wandering and roaming a large area.

   Lucy went missing while staying with a much loved relative. She went out to go potty and disappeared. Her scent trail showed she went straight down the driveway, down the road and up into the fields and bluffs. It is likley that she spent the first three days along the ridge among the cornfields.


The day our lives changed... more than one crisis

On Thursday, 10-13-11, we got an emergency call that our son was in a bad bicycle accident. He had been knocked unconscious and found on the street in the campus of U.W. Madison. He was hauled away by ambulance on a backboard and had a cervical collar on. They were watching him closely for internal bleeding and the need for urgent surgery if he was bleeding. I was up in Minneapolis with my parents and daughter (2 1/2 hours north of home) and my husband was at home. I called him and told him to hurry up and start driving to Madison (2 1/2 hours south of home) in case our son needed emergency surgery. I myself turned around in Minneapolis and started the 5 hour drive straight to Madison. When my husband left the house, he did not know what to do with Lucy. He normally would have brought her along but he knew we would be staying in the hospital with our son that night so he put her in the kennel in our kitchen and frantically packed and left the house for his 2 1/2 hour drive to Madison. Having your son found unconscious is very worrisome and stressful. So we all were at Madison that night.

The next morning, Friday, 10-14-11,my step dad and daughter came back home as he had an appointment and she needed to get back to school at least for a 1/2 day. My Mom suggested that my step dad go over and let Lucy out of her kennel and bring her over to their house so she was not locked up in her kennel in an empty house. So about noon, my step dad went over and got Lucy.

Everything seemed normal. He picked up Lucy as normal. She rode in his truck with him and his dog Hunter as usual. They went to his house and she pottied in her usual spot in his grass as usual. She followed him around his house all bouncy and smiley like usual. My step dad has horses. About 3:30 p.m. he started to head out to the barn to do his chores. He went out to the garage with his dog Hunter and Lucy. He sat down on his chair to put his boots on while the two dogs ran out of the garage. When George got outside to the front of the house, just Hunter was standing there, not Lucy. Lucy was no where in his sight. George called and called for her but he did not see her. He looked all over his yard, surrounding area, surrounding woods and fields. It just so happened that the rest of us were also on our way back from Madison at about 4p.m. and we called our step dad. He told us he could not find Lucy. Oh my gosh. That was a long 2 1/2 hour ride as we knew by the time we got to his house it would be dark outside. My daughter went over to his house and helped look but she had to leave as it was her high school homecoming and she had to dance at half time. It was hard on her to leave at dark without her puppy. When we got there from Madison, we too did the same thing. We walked the same areas, calling Lucy's name and clapping our hands. We rode 4 wheelers in the woods, we walked the fields. We couldn't imagine a coyote coming in broad daylight getting Lucy....but it could have happened. She is too big for a hawk to snatch her up. There was a service van in the drive way earlier, we called them and asked them to check the back of their van in case Lucy jumped in. No Lucy! We missed our daughter's homecoming game and half time dance as we called and looked for Lucy continuously. Later that night, we made informational fliers with Lucy's picture on it and put it in all of the surrounding neighbor's mailboxes. We delivered about 100 fliers that night until 2 a.m.

Roaming dogs tend to travel. north, northeast and northwest more than any other directions. I am unsure why this is but after working on thousands of roaming dogs cases, this is a common pattern.

Lucy initially traveled to the north, then the northeast and finally back due north again. Overall her journey was northerly. When she deviated from this pattern, it was most likely to overcome obstacles like cliffs, traffic and impassable ridges. She may also have altered direction when she scented food or ran from a threat.


When dogs go missing it is common for the pet owner to receive sightings from many directions and of several different dogs. It is difficult to know which sightings to follow-up and spend your efforts on.

Lucy sightings came in fast and furious in the first few days. Most of the sightings were from town... to the south and southwest. During our initial K9 Profiling session and Aerial Diagnostic,  I deduced that the sightings from town were most likely not Lucy. When I arrived with the K9 team, the tracking dogs  found that of the eight sightings we checked... only two were Lucy and both of those  were in the country and in the mountains. None of the sightings in town were Lucy.


Many times bringing in professional tracking dogs trained to follow the scent of a specific missing pet, is put off as a last resort. In the case of a roaming dog, the sooner one gets their campaign started the better. The combination of pet owner, investigator, tracking dogs and community input is what is required to successfully find and recover an extreme roaming dog.

Lucy's family made the decision to bring in professional help within hours of our first conversation. At that time, they had no idea how far Lucy would eventually travel. Their quick action, combined with their consistent pursuit and willingness to listen  and follow instructions  resulted in a successful recovery for a very extreme roaming dog.

 The search... Part One

On Saturday, 10-15-11 at about 10:30 a.m. we got a call from a lady who said that she saw Lucy! She saw her Friday about 3:30 p.m.walking down the road away from my parent's house. They stopped and looked at her and wondered but thought she looked like she knew what she was doing like she had walked that walk 100 times before. They assumed her master was ahead or behind her close. They were test driving a car and by the time they turned around and came back, Lucy was not there. Because of that, we knew that Lucy either turned an immediate left across a field towards a county road, or followed the road further and could have went left to the county road or right into town. We did know she didn't make an immediate right as the people in the car did and they did not see her again. Well we were shocked! Our Lucy left! She walked away! Unbelievable!

So, we branched out further with our signs and fliers. Branching further in the neighborhood down below in the valley further from home. Approaching closer to town. On Monday, 10-17-11, we got a call. They had just got our flier and that they saw Lucy on Sunday 10-16-11. They said that she came to their back door sniffing at the door and they thought it was the neighbor dog so they "shooed" her away. We asked permission to put her bed and food/water by their back door and they let us. So now we broadened our search area and sign/flier distribution area. We ended up with 3 other calls of sightings regarding Lucy in a long stretch of neighborhoods down below in town.

On Tuesday Morning, 10-18-11, the local newspaper ran our lost add in the classifieds and a Human Interest Story. The first LOST signLucy's story was on the front page of the Hometown section. AT 4:50 a.m. we got a call. It was a prankster, mean fella. He told us that he shot Lucy in the head and that she was dead in his cow pasture. That was hard to wake up to. Then at 5:00 a.m. someone called to say that they saw Lucy up on top of the ridge up on County S. This is the road that runs past my parents house, but that they saw her all the way up on top of the ridge/hills. I immediately was scared about the prank caller as I was afraid that if she as on County S that she was in the country and maybe she was in a cow pasture. The assured me that they saw her after 5:00 a.m. Then at 5:20 a.m. we got a call from the county Sheriff that they had Lucy in their spotlight. They were chasing her across the ridge on County S. They had a current picture and flier of Lucy in their squad car. They were sure it was Lucy. They chased her almost 2 miles down and then back again until she ran off into the hillside by the original house that called at 5:00 am. Our family immediately went up there. We walked and called her. We got there soon after the sheriff was done with his chase with her. You would think that she had to hear us. We drove around and around up on the ridge and adjacent roads all day.
Then on the same day, Tuesday 10-18-11, two young girls about 11 years old called and said that they saw and petted Lucy in town. This was down below just a little further north from where the other sightings were in town. We went right away and we called and called. Walked and walked. Drove and drove. We never caught sight of her. We then placed more fliers and sign all the way as far north as we could go with the houses. Earlier that day we also had a call that on Monday, the day before 10-17-11, Lucy was sighted on the other side of County S ridge on Quakenbush Road. We put some signs down that way.

Wednesday 10-19-11 left us feeling really down in the dumps. We did not have anymore calls, no more sightings. Honestly, this is when it really hit us. A big newspaper article was run on her, our ad was in the paper and no calls! If we ever started to lose hope, it was on this day. We did not have a focus. The sightings were in such a great big area.....all the way in to town, all the way up on the ridge of county S and all the way on the other side of County S on Quakenbush road. Where were we to look? Talk about feeling helpless and not being able to channel your energy.

Karin and PeriAnne

From PeriAnne & Mark... Lucy's family Tips and suggestions for you

Veteran K9, Twist helped out on the search for Lucy

Many times a call will come in from an area that the pet owner feels is just too far away for their dog to have traveled. Depending on the breed of the dog, not so much the size of the dog, will determine how quickly the far away sighting should be followed-up.

   When the sighting came in near the Mindoro Cut near the village of Mindoro, most in the search party felt it was impossible for Lucy to have traveled that far. Even though the dog team and I were exhausted,  we checked the sighting immediately.  All four tracking dogs confirmed that it was in fact Lucy's scent at the witnesses house.  The search party felt not only relief... but allot of surprise that such a little dog could travel so far up into the bluffs.


If luring or attraction with the pet's family members does not appear to be working, our first choice for capture equipment will almost always be humane traps. .. a box type trap with a closing mechanism. Many dogs however will not go into humane traps. We have had good results with most of the toy breeds but many other breed types will not go in. Regardless the type of dog, it takes patience and persistence when humane traps or any  type of trap is to be used.    

As soon as it was confirmed that Lucy was in fact in the village of Mindoro, we began to use a combination of lure attraction and humane traps. Lucy moved on the second day after we put out the traps and we were in the process of deciding where to move the traps when the sighting came in on Roberts Rd. Mark, Lucy's human Dad, spent a few nights staked out in a Mindoro cornfield with Mickie, the family's Collie trying  to attract Lucy. It is likely that Lucy caught their scent but was never actually close enough to Mark and Mickie long enough to make a decision to approach.


Many times if a roaming dog feels pursued, it will leave the area and move on... even if those pursuing are the dog's own family.  This can be very hard for the pet owner to fathom as this is the dog that shares their bed and home.  The important thing to remember is that the dog is in a survival mode.

 It does not appear to be thinking about family or it's past. Instead it is concerned with survival... namely

  • security
  • food
  • water
  • shelter...

and in that order. Rarely will the need for any of the other three over ride the need for security. 

 The town of Mindoro jumped into action to help us locate and capture Lucy. Everyone seemed to know about her plight and were on the lookout. In the process, many people and children tried to catch her even though we warned them this would not be possible... "Do not chase her... just call us" is the mantra we used over and over as we talked to the citizens of the village. Regardless, there was so much activity in the area where she was wandering that she moved further north.

Rookie tracking dog Nash working on one of the many ridges.

  The search continues Part Two... meeting Karin and the K9 TEAMThe dog team



On Wednesday 10-19-11, one of my friends told me about Karin TarQwyn. She said maybe it was worth a shot. Honestly, I had already tried to look up tracking dogs on the internet and I did not find anything. So I was grateful that my friend gave me the link to Karin.

I emailed her early 10-20-11, Thursday morning. She answered and talked with my Mom a little bit that day and made a telephone appointment for my husband and I later that evening at 7 p.m.. My husband and I talked with Karin for over 2 hours. She gathered information from us detail by detail, step by step. She plotted all of the sightings and used her prior knowledge to give us her best advice. Her best advice was that all of the town sightings were not Lucy. She believed that Lucy was up on the ridge in the country. This is not what we wanted to hear. We were so afraid of the coyotes up there. We really wanted her to be in town by people who would feed her and take her in and call. Karin immediately made up NEW signs for us, told us where to place the signs on the county roads and how far apart. She called the order into Office Max and all we had to do was go pick them up. She really emphasized the importance of signs. She also recommended that we take one of Lucy's scent articles and wrap it in guaze and seal it tight in a baggie just in case we would need in if she were to come track Lucy.

On Friday 10-21-11, my Mom called me at work to let me know that she had called Karin and told her to come this weekend. We all realized that the sooner the better as we were not getting any calls at all on sightings of Lucy. So Karin was going to travel on Saturday 10-22-11 and start with her tracking dogs on Sunday 10-23-11. In the mean time, we kept putting out more and more signs and fliers, going out further and further.

On Sunday morning 10-23-11 when Karin got to the original sighting that Lucy went missing, all 4 of her dogs confirmed that they recognized Lucy's scent and that she didFollowing Cade down the logging road near S. walk away down the road. The next thing we did was to go up on top of County S and see if the dogs tracked Lucy's scent up there. The dogs did smell Lucy's scent up on County S. They smelled her on the sheriff's route, behind the people house and across the road on the ridge on a logging road. The logging road was long and rough. It ended in a cliff. This left a lot of questions. Was Lucy eaten by a coyote at this spot? Was she drug over the cliff by a coyote? OR did Lucy run down the steep cliff herself, especially if she were being chased? The daylight was coming to an end so Karin took her dogs in to town to either confirm or rule out the sightings in town. Her dogs ruled out every single sighting in town. Again.....Lucy was out in the country, with the coyotes, wolves, steep terrain, the elements, no people to help her and the weather is getting colder and sometimes it would rain.

On Monday, 10-24-11, Karin took Cade across the ridge on County C to see what he would do, He did the same thing and tracked to the edge of the cliff. This didn't answer questions, but left people with some sad doubts. My step dad talked with Karin and asked if she would stay another day so that we could go to the bottom of the cliff and work our way up just in case Lucy did run down the cliff. Karin agreed. With the help of a neighbor who knew the trails, they hoped on 4 wheelers and were shown how to get to the bottom of the cliff to work the dogs the next day. While Karin and I were waiting for the people on the 4 wheelers to get back, I got a call. A sighting! First one in 6 days!! They said that they saw the ad for Lucy in the classifieds and that a dog that looked just like her was at their front door looking in at them on Saturday 10-22-11. She lived on County 108 by the Mindoro Cut which is before you get to Mindoro, WI. Lucy looked at these people like she wanted something so they opened the door and she took off running down the hill, into the middle of the county road. (Our dog is a country dog who is not street smart and is not afraid of cars. When we pull up in our own driveway at home we actually stop our car and open the door and let her in and drive the rest of the way back up the drive way). It was the end of the day but Karin agreed to take her dogs over to this house and check out the place for Lucy's scent. All 4 of her dogs confirmed that yes, Lucy had been there. In the mean time, we got a call from a man that lived above the Mindoro Cut that he and his neighbor saw Lucy on Sunday 10-23-11.

So, on Tuesday, 10-25-11 Karin, her dogs and my husband and parents all went to the Mindoro area. We had calls that Lucy was in the area around County DE. One lady claimed that she had been feeding Lucy at several places. This was a good thing as we could set up a feeding station and possibly use a live trap to capture Lucy. My husband stayed in his car all night with hope of seeing Lucy.

On Wednesday morning, 10-26-11, my husband got a call from the lady who was feeding Lucy. She told him that if he would come to the area now that he would probably see her. Brodie follows Lucy's scent down BergRd.Within an hour, Lucy ran right by my husband. She did not make any indication of recognition when he called her name, squeaked her squeaky toy and was in her plain sight. Lucy kept on going....running away. That was about 9:30 a.m. Then on Wednesday afternoon, my Mom, saw Lucy also. She too got out of her car, made baby sounds for Lucy, and Lucy even looked at her. Lucy kept on going. Lucy was definitely in her feral mode and was not paying attention to sights and sounds of even familiar family members. There were many helpful people in this general area who saw Lucy and were willing to help. This night we set 3 or 4 live traps to try to catch Lucy. However, we had our doubts as early that evening she was seen up on County 108 (north) which is the direction she would take if she were heading out, moving on and leaving town. But, nonetheless, we pulled all feeding sights, set the traps and let the area.

On Thursday, 10-27-11, unfortunately all traps were empty. We caught one kitty which was safely released. Thursday morning Karin and her dogs had t leave. This was extremely hard for me but Karin kept telling me that Lucy would be caught... We knew where she was now and just needed to capture her. I couldn't help but to feel our hope was driving away but at the same time I realized that Karin and the dogs were tired and needed rest. They had tracked for miles through the ridges, coulees and fields.   Then it happened just like Karin said it would...

That morning we got a call that a man living at the end of Young Rd. which is off of county 108 saw Lucy that morning in his yard. When we got there, he said that she had already ran off into the woods. So my husband and collie walked through the woods looking for her and I drove around the area on the county roads. We did not see her at all. Later that day we put up more signs/fliers....lots and lots more. Broadening to the next towns in all directions. We knew we really needed to stay ahead of Lucy especially without the use of any dog noses to track Lucy's scent. We really needed to rely on the general public's "sightings." Again we were starting to feel defeat. As we were working further and further north, we were getting into state forest lands with trails and trails. We were getting closer and closer to a river with lots of swampy areas in the river bottoms. It was night and we were tired. Then we got a call from one lady who previously had Lucy playing in her yard in Mindoro, she was out to eat at a restaurant. She was talking about Lucy. Then a man at the restaurant told her that he had just seen Lucy at 5:00 p.m. sitting on Young Rd. right off of County 108. This was good news to us! She was still in the area or at least within the last couple of hours and our signs/fliers were ahead of her!! We went home to bed with intentions of getting up early (dawn) to look for Lucy in the area).


When a dog is roaming and has been out for over 72 hours I refer to the need for the dog to travel back to us through the feral tunnel. The dog is not actually feral but is in a survival mode. For this reason when we are trying to attract a roaming dog to come to us or to use a lure like another dog, it is imperative to give the roaming dog time to make a decision to come to the lure or pet owner. Many pet owners make the mistake of walking areas and calling their dog at the top of their lungs spending less than five minutes in each area. Once a dog has been roaming for  a period of time, the dog will need time to make an identification of the owner, usually through scent,  and then to come through it's survival mode behavour to allow it to approach. This takes time... and the dog must approach... not the other way around.

 When Mark saw Lucy off in the fields, he already knew he had to proceed slowly to allow Lucy to approach. We had spent allot of time going over how to get a roaming dog to approach so Mark was well versed. He spent a full twenty minutes walking down a dirt road that would have normally taken 5 minutes to walk. He walked with Mickie and talked to Mickie, paying no attention to the area where he had last seen Lucy. He sat down in the grass and began to feed Mickie. Even when he knew Lucy was watching he still ignored her which was crucial to her decision making time. In his peripheral vision, he did see Lucy's face and he later remarked how her eyes looked blank not at all like the animated dog he was used to. Once she recognized him, it took only a few more minutes for her to approach. He still spent time allowing her to eat the chicken and position her so he could reach to pick her up and hold on without lunging for her. He then walked slowly back to the car and placed her inside before looking her over, petting her and... relaxing.

One of the puncture wounds


From Lucy's family to you... Our offer of help

   The Recovery... Bringing home Lucy

That night, early Friday morning, 10-28-11 at 3:30 a.m. we got a call that someone saw Lucy sitting across County 108 from Young Rd on Robert's Rd. This was great! She was still in the area. My husband was going to be there at dawn and I was going to be right behind him with our collie Mickey who is Lucy's buddy. Well another call came in! at 9:00 a.m., a man at a farm across from the bean field by Robert's road called Mark and said I see Lucy now. She s in the bean field. Mark called me to make sure I was on my way with Mickey.

Mark pulled into Robert's Rd. but stayed back by County 108. It is a very long driveway until you get up to the farm house and barns. Mark saw Lucy.Lucy right after she was recovered in the field She was sitting in the bean field. She was staring at our van. She stared at our van for a long time and then ran into one of the barns. After a bit she came back out and stared at our van again and then went back into the barn. My husband could tell that she was going in there to sleep. Well my husband took our collie and started to walk up the long driveway, meandering around in and out of the bean field as he made his way up the driveway. It probably took him 20 minutes to walk up there when it would have taken 5 minutes. When he got up to the farmyard, he went to the farmhouse's yard and sat down in the grass with Mickey, the collie. He talked in baby talk to Mickey. All the while he was hoping Lucy was watching him, not knowing if she was or not.He did not want to look directly over there as he wanted to make sure not to make direct eye contact with her. Then he petted Mickey and then he got out a very visible, noisy (crinkly) bag of smelly chicken nuggets. They were heavy enough that he could throw them and he could still tear small pieces off of them. He began to feed Mickey. Soon, Lucy popped her head out. Mark did not acknowledge her right away. After a little bit he threw some chicken he way but it was too far from her so much that she did not even acknowledge it. Then he threw one closer, and she still ignored it. Finally he threw one that was 3 feet from her and she went and got it. He kept feeding Mickey and then would throw her one closer. He kept this process up, very patiently. Mark had to do this until Lucy was lured to him. He lured her all the way between his legs. He still did not grab her at that point. He threw one more chicken piece so that Lucy would have to turn her head just a little bit, then he grabbed her around her torso. He grabbed her tightly and I drove the car up and rolled down my window and took her in my lap. She immediately started to whimper.******** NOTE: From the time that Mark started walking Mickey to the time he had Lucy in his arms it was probably 30+ minutes.

As I was sitting back watching this, I can not even begin to tell you how beautiful of a sight to see this lost, scared dog  scoot over to my husband for food. When she did her last scamper over to him, I immediately began to cry tears of joy, relief and tears of empathy for what Lucy had been through.

Coming back from the vetLucy was very bony feeling. She was very full of burrs. I pulled off 10 ticks of at least 3 different varieties. Lucy could not see out of her right eye because the burrs had pulled the hair down over her eye and she could not see through it. In the burr and hair mass by her eyes, she had about 7 ticks in there alone.

We took her to the vet that afternoon. She had lost 1/3 of her body weight. Lucy had burrs stuffed between her toes and all over her body. She was so itchy and sore from the abrasion from the burrs the vet had to treat her skin. They had to cut her hair in many places to remove the burrs. While cutting the hair away to remove the burrs, they also found a puncture wound around Lucy's rib area. The vet also removed about 10 to 15 ticks. The vet started Lucy on an antibiotic for the puncture wound and the tick bites. I gave her a bath later that day to remove any live crawling ticks. She will need to have all of her hair shaved off next week but we have to wait until her skin is not so irritated from the abrasions from the burrs.

Click to enlarge this great photo!
The community rejoices!!!!

Lucy with her new haircut

 Coming back... Lucy today

 When Lucy first came home she slept allot. It took her a full day before she even acted a little bit like her old self. She was cautious and kind of distant. By the second day she began to act more like the dog we knew. She ate allot and very frantically when food was placed in front of her... like the food was going to get away from her.

Later in the week, we had the rest of her hair cut off. We felt it would allow for her itchy skin to heal faster. After a week she began to act more like the old Lucy but we know we have to be very careful with her. We keep her away from open doors and use a leash when we take her outside to potty.... This is a hassle but we never want to go through a roaming dog again. Karin has told us that when a dog has experienced this, that they can do it again... especially in the first weeks. It is not so much that they want to go out and roam again but that the instinct to bolt is still there... poor impulse control is how Karin explains it.

We are ecstatic to have Lucy back home. We always knew we loved Lucy but it was not till she was lost that we truly understood how much she means to our entire family. This little dog means the world to all of us.


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