Rescuing Piper...

A puppy mill survivor goes missing in the woods of Galena, Illinois...

Wire Fox terrier friends from across the country step up to help save her...

Cade scanning for scent


It was Saturday, February 26th ...
when I received a frantic call from Fox Terrier Rescue of Central & North Texas . The caller has been referred to me by a Wheaten Terrier rescue group.  She explains that there is a Wire Fox Terrier missing in Galena, Illinois after being adopted out by another rescue. On the way to her new home, Piper's new adopters stopped for a break and Piper bolted while being taken out of her crate.  It was dark and with the temperature dropping, the new adopters looked for her but lost sight of her within minutes. The temperatures in the area have been below 20 degrees... There is snow and ice everywhere and the small dog has been missing for four days and nights by the time I get the call. She has not been seen since Tuesday evening and there is no one on the ground in Galena searching for her...  this will not be an easy job.
The Fox Terrier representative in Texas rallies support for Piper's cause and the Wire Fox Terrier community pulls together quickly... some one needs to go and search for the small dog. The representative asks and I agree that I will take the case. I tell her I can leave in 12 hours after packing up the dogs, designing and having signs printed and purchasing the supplies necessary.

Concerned Wire Fox terrier friends
 from all over the country
joined forces to enable
the search for Piper.

We leave at 6:00 AM for the seven hour drive to Galena. We have to pick up the signs and supplies in Des Moines. We continue our trip arriving in Galena around 4:00 PM. The new adopters have agreed to meet me in Galena with a scent article. My goal is to work until it gets dark so I can have some idea where the little dog went before nightfall. .

As we near Galena, I put in a call to the new adopters... they are on the way and will arrive in Galena at about the same time I will. When we all arrive, I introduce myself and quickly grab the scent article and get Cade ready to work. He has been riding in the truck for nine hours but the big brown dog jumps out ready to go to work. I give him scent and heads north, crossing the highway and traveling into a rock quarry. The adopters yell out yes that is the way they saw her go. The rock quarry is on the edge of steep ravine now filled with snow and ice. As the sun begins to fade I pull Cade up. Before it is too dark I want to get some of the signs up in case someone has seen her and we can move the search closer to her current location.

Piper stayed in the area

where she went missing

for at least 36 hours...

Piper's scent is along the base of the hill in front of Cade.

Monday February 28th, 2011

I talked with the police department, sheriff's department and the newspaper early this morning. Hoping to keep everyone on our side so they do not take the signs down. They were all nice...

The going is tough here... deeper snow down in the ravines and it is very hilly.... and where Piper's scent is... it is very remote. I have to track in... Then walk out and then take another tracking dog in (to learn more as they each have different skill sets that add to what I can learn). I think in all I walked about 4 miles today... trudging through the snow... I am tired.

This morning I thought I had paw prints in the snow from a very small dog... thought it might be Piper but Mason... the foot step tracker said no.  Piper's scent continues deeper into the woods. Tomorrow we will begin work to the north of where we ended today hoping to pick up her scent up near Powder Hill Rd... Going towards the river. As yet... we have not found Piper's scent near any streets or inhabited areas other than where she escaped from.

2 hours later

A man called and reported seeing Piper on Thursday morning near the ravine! He saw her twice on Thursday morning just off the ravine... I now know Piper stayed in the area for at least 36 hours after going missing.

Tuesday March 1st, 2011

The word is definitely getting around. Today I was stopped on the road four times... once by a police officer as I was re-hanging signs that had blown down on Highway 20. All were people who had seen the signs or heard of Piper's plight... even the police officer stopped to see if there was anything he could do...I thought for sure he was going to ask me to take down the signs but he flashed his flier of Piper and offered to give me a lift back to my car... this is the response we need... and we are getting it!

 Cade and Mason each tracked up a long driveway from Powder House. Brodie came from the opposite side of the creek and ended at the trail Cade and later Mason would find. No one was home at this house and it looks as if no one has been there for a few days. I looked around and left food near the driveway just in case.

As the railroad tracks were adjacent to this new trail we drove to the river entrance and began scanning the tracks from a 1/2 mile away.  At about 1/4 mile Cade alerted that he had scent and ran up the tracks towards the new trail. He ran a little past it and then alerted that he no longer had scent. I had him circle back and he went back to the area of the new trail near the house. At this juncture... it did not look like Piper's scent continued down the hillside onto the tracks. We did the same perimeter scan on Powder Hill with Cade and Mason. Each dog went to the old ravine to the south first and then tracked up across Powder Hill Rd., up the long driveway and to the creek to the west.

Based on the new information I put up more signs in this area so anyone driving by has to see them. The problem in the area where we have been working is that there are very few people that live up there.


Cade ready to track... the sign that Piper's Samaritan's called from is behind Cade.

 Tuesday March 1st, 2011 (continued)

I received a call in the afternoon from a woman who said she saw Piper but she did not know what day. She only knew that it had been about 6:45 in the morning. Another gentleman stopped as I was adding signs in the area and said his wife had seen Piper the same day as his neighbor so just his neighbor had called. It turns out that all these sightings are in the same court... the same court the witness from yesterday lives in. Based on this I took the dogs to the court and gave each scent. All three dogs tracked across the court, behind the far house and headed north into the ravine. This is about where we ended our trail yesterday but about 200 yards to the west through some very thick woods. The witness who called today confirmed that his was the path and direction the little dog she had seen had went in.

In addition Chris the mail carrier for the area and her friend Anna, have stepped up to help us. Chris is not only carrying around a Piper flier in her mail truck but she and Anna hiked back into the nature preserve with her lab to see if she could see anything. The nature preserve is about a ½ mile past the area where we found Piper's scent today. All of these places are only available on foot...  no way to hike in and hike out... no roads. Just like the railroad track scans we did today. Chris believes she may have seen what could be small dog prints in the snow out in the nature preserve. Tomorrow, we will check this possibility for Piper's scent.

Within hours of beginning our campaign...

calls began to come in from people who have seen Piper.

Wednesday March 2nd, 2011

An excellent day!!! The little dog paw prints in the nature reserve were Piper's. Mason and I hiked in a mile to scan them for scent. Mason picked up her trail and ran towards the river. It was pretty exciting... and makes so much sense! But wow... it was cold... 21 degrees and the wind is blowing!

Cade also picked up Piper's scent and tried to run across a frozen marsh... Piper being smaller could do this. .. Cade and I not so much! We continued on up against the mountainside and then the scent trail turned up a logging road. We checked this with three dogs... it was Piper's trail and it went into a private agricultural field. We were told not to go any further so we had to figure out another way in... tough when there are hundreds of acres.

With dark setting in... we looked for a way to get near the field. As we came around a bend in the road Cade began crying and howling. We had been driving for about 35 minutes and he was riding happily in the back when all of sudden he begins howling. I thought he was sick... so I stopped the van and ran to see what was wrong. The big brown dog bounded out of this crate and ran to the field to the west. He did not seem sick so I gave him Piper's scent and he took off like he was shot out of cannon. It was now dark and we could not see very well... Cade had Piper's scent and he was trying to tell us to stop! It was pretty amazing. He has done this one other time... still it is pretty amazing! We will start here tomorrow.

Also Chris the mail carrier came to help me in the afternoon. The woman is amazing she knows every little dirt road and meandering path up here. She has been a big help.

The ice and hard pack snow are wearing on all of us... The icy conditions have wore the pads on Cade's paws  raw.  We make stops at a local vet to have them looked at and a local pet shop for paw protective gear and we are ready for tomorrow. Tonight... even I fell on the ice... and landed on Paco... not out in the icy woods but in the parking lot of all places. Landed on my butt... thank God for padding. Really scared Paco... me too.

Thursday March 3rd, 2011
Today was a long one and we were able to cover a lot of ground but also ran into places where we either were not allowed or could not get to. We had to leap frog over properties and around barriers. I was never so glad to have a mail carrier helping me... Chris... you are amazing! Every time we ran into an obstacle she knew how to get to another place where we could scan for scent... I could never have covered the ground we did today without her.
Although we covered a lot of territory it was also a little disconcerting as Piper's scent is now at least 2 ½ miles south east of where she went missing from. All in all... Piper herself has most likely covered 8 to 10 miles or more. The K9s are used to following scent trails based on a scent alley... truly more like hunting dogs than foot step for foot step man trailers. This is what we need in this work and today really exemplified why. Much of the area Piper has covered is passable by a small dog but not by a large one. That said, there were several areas of fencing where not even Piper could get through.

Based on today's search results I have to consider Piper in an elite group... that of the extreme roamers. Those dogs that have no bonded interest to their surroundings so they hit the road and travel great distances. My experience with terriers is that sometimes they do spiral and come back into the area but sometimes they do not and just continue their travels in a haphazard fashion. It is important to note that when a dog is on the roam they live in the moment... they are not human they do not have a plan or an agenda or motivation to get somewhere. The environment and circumstance decide which way she will go next.

Find Toto donated a broadcast today and they called a 3 mile square area to include the city of Galena, the Galena Territories and residences to the south where we tracked today. They are a great company... I work with them a lot in a very specific way. We customize all our work and broadcasts to the specifics of each dog and search area covered.

We have the two volunteers, Chris and Anna,  who have stepped up to help out when I leave. I will continue to help guide the search efforts but I have some very tired dogs who are ready to go home...This is one of the reasons our contract has a five day  stipulation.  I am pretty tired too. Chris... has an incredible dog I have been working with for the last two days. Her dog Faith has been able to discern Piper's scent accurately... tell us when she has it and can track her as well as tell us when she does not have scent. She has worked alongside Cade, Mason and Brodie and she is an exceptional dog. We do have to be very careful that we do not ask her for things that she and Chris are  too inexperienced to attempt. Their safety is also of concern to me.

The signage with my 24/7 contact information should remain up and the efforts should continue. At some point Piper will slow down... I cannot say when but I will tell you that we have recovered dogs in tougher cases than this... The key is to keep the awareness up in the communities.


The combination of tracking dogs,
phone alert broadcast
and signage 
  led to the successful
recovery of this dog.


 Friday March 4th, 2011
In the morning I meet with the rescue representative.  She has traveled to Galena to help with the search for a few days. After debriefing her on our current status, I make suggestions as to the actions to take based on our latest findings.
Before leaving I work with Anna and her dog to teach them some basic skills so they can help with Piper's search. We all exchange cell phone numbers and email addresses so we can keep in touch as the search continues to unfold.
 After our training session I set off on the long  drive home disappointed that Piper has not been found but hopeful that she will if the efforts continue based on the ground work we have set in motion. The dog team has given their all... as we head off they all fall sound asleep.
Monday March 7th, 2011

On Monday Chris calls... she has taken Faith out to the area where we left off tracking and Faith went another quarter mile. She wonders if she should try scanning with Faith in various areas. This is a very advanced technique for an inexperienced  dog and I am concerned for their safey and the confusion that these techniques might create for a novice dog. Faith is an excellent candidate for this work but I am concerned about having her do too much too soon. Then again Piper is out there and Faith and Chris are the best chance we have... we decide Chris will take Faith further tomorrow. As always... my phone remains on and Chris will call for guidance.

Tuesday March 8th, 2011

Chris calls to explain her findings and ask for more direction. She and Faith have tracked to a creek due south of the place where we discovered Piper had crossed the highway. Faith goes south on the creek and then turns and goes back north. The black Labrador became frightened when she came to a place in the creek where there are caves. A local farmer tells Chris that a pack of coyotes live in the caves. Chris is concerned that Piper may have gone in there, been attacked and killed.

After much discussion I explain to Chris that it is best if we give this new concern a few days before reporting this to the many people who are anxiously watching Piper's plight on Facebook and the Internet. There have been times when my dog team has lost the scent and it may appear that something has happened like a predator attack when it actually has not. Without evidentiary remains that we can confirm are Piper's... the search should go on.  If we have no further sightings in the next week or so we can revisit this possibility.

Like Piper, many puppy mill survivors
will resort to roaming behaviour
when they become frightened and escape.
Education, experience and preventive measures
are important when working with
 STARS dogs (Shy, Timid, Aloof, Reserved or Skittish),
with this background.

Chris following behind Karin and Cade.

Wednesday March 9th, 2011

I receive a call from a man who feels he may have seen Piper this past Sunday. He describes the dog he saw and it vaguely matches Piper's description but the weight of the dog and the location cause me doubt. This possible sighting is on the other side of the river and Piper has never been on the other side to this point. Also, this dog was in plain view and we receive no other calls and by now everyone in the town knows Piper is missing. The man also describes the dog he sees... and the dog sounds too big to be Piper. I call Chris and ask he to check this out. The man who saw the dog calls again to explain that he is mistaken, the dog he saw lives there and confirms what I is not Piper.

Thursday March 10th, 2011

My cell phone rings at 6:45 am. I am groggy when I answer the phone... a woman's voice says she may have the dog on the sign. I wake up and come to my senses very quickly! I ask the woman,  if the dog has a collar on... She says yes... the collar is bright pink... Yahooo... Piper had on a bright pink collar when she escaped. I ask about any tags... she says there are tags but she can only read one word on one of the tags... Yippee... the one word is the last name of Piper's foster mom... I am now convinced this is Piper.

The good Samaritan explains that the dog is not in very good shape... she is bloody and injured. I ask her if she can keep Piper contained in the basement and I will call Chris to come to get her and take her to the vet. She agrees to do this.

I quickly call Chris... she is on her way to work... I ask her if she can go and get Piper... Of course she says. I tell her we need to contain her and Chris tells me she has a crate.

Fifteen minutes later Chris calls... she has Piper in the crate and is on the way to the vet. She explains that Piper is injured and appears weak. Because I know Chris will now have to do most of the ground work of getting Piper to the vet and possibly beyond that, I ask her if she would like to call the rescue to tell them Piper has been found. This is the call we all love and live to make! Chris says yes she would like be able to make the call with the great news! 

I hang up the phone and give Cade, Brodie and Mason a high five!

Piper's plight touched many people's heart and souls including mine... a tough case with an even tougher little dog whose pluck and determination kept her alive despite all odds... I will never forget her.

Click here to read about Piper's recovery from Chris.

Piper with Chris after being found off Stagecoach Trail

Photos of Piper's injuries click here


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