Owners of the six-month-old puppy lost in West Vancouver had been looking for their adorable pet for three weeks, but what they found yesterday was a feral dog deeply in touch with its primal instincts.
Maisie, the six-month-old Labrador who was found yesterday in the Cypress Bowl area, may have morphed from a cute puppy into a wild animal in just 30 minutes from the time she got lost, says one of the experts tasked with finding the dog.
“Maisie lost half her weight, stayed almost unseen in stealth mode, and went for deep cover. She went into a feral survival mode. When a dog enters this state, it is no longer your pet dog. It is pure animal — hide, scavenge, wait; get strong or pass away,” says Carl Merac, the co-owner of Canine Valley, a Squamish-based company hired by owners Gary and Anne Marcell to find their lost puppy.
It won’t be far-fetched to say the puppy had the instincts of a coyote roaming the wild, Merac says. “Animals are smart, and it doesn’t take long for that genetic animal instinct to kick in, and that includes behaviour such as coming out only at dusk and dawn,” he says.
Maisie was found in the Cypress Bowl area near the District of West Vancouver office by an equipment operator who had seen the missing posters pasted all around the community.
Maisie had lost 22 pounds and was severely dehydrated when she was found, but her blood work suggests she doesn’t have any infection.
Valley Calderoni, the co-owner of Canine Valley, says even though Maisie has lost weight, it is possible she had started eating some shrubs or bugs to survive. Because she was so young, her animal instincts was to run and run, which also made it difficult to find her.
“The animal instinct kicked in, but she was all flight. She used her speed and her stamina to run as far as she could and get away from everything. Her instinct was to escape. The way she runs, this dog could be a champion,” says Calderoni.
Gary and Anne Mancell had almost given up hope. And that has made Maisie’s discovery much more exciting. “It has been such a roller-coaster ride. Personally, I had pretty much girded myself to think that I’d never see her again,” says Gary.
Anne just couldn’t bring herself to accept that she had lost Maise. “It was just more depressing not knowing about what had happened to her, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to accept that she was gone. It was more like what we can do more to find her,” she says.
Gary said perhaps the thing that helped the most was getting the word out in the community. Canine Valley knocked at hundreds of doors, distributed pamphlets in neighbourhoods, and used social media to mobilise the community to keep looking for Maisie. Merac says over 200 people in West Vancouver joined them in the search for the lost puppy.
“We informed the entire district of West Vancouver. We went to the police, the fire department, the stores, coffee shops, the UPS and courier offices, just about everywhere. We were on the phone six hours a day just asking people if they wanted to help us,” says Calderoni. In addition, the team had set up traps as well as cameras at specific locations in hopes of catching Maisie.
Information blitz helped as people started to respond with sightings. On July 10, she was seen by kids near Caulfeild Elementary School, and before that by some residents of Almondel Road. But following her instincts, Maisie bolted every time someone went close. Telling a lot of people about Maisie paid off as the operator who spotted her had seen her photos.
Anne says the incident has strengthened her faith in humanity. She is extremely thankful to West Vancouver community for spreading the word and helping them out in finding Maisie.
“People were offering us their home to sleep. They were offering us food, tea, coffee, and the West Vancouver police was checking in to help. It was so incredible and so heartwarming,” she said.
Gary and Anne are now planning to get a GPS tracker on Maisie.
Maisie is gradually recovering. She is being monitored and fed slowly. But eventually, perhaps in a few weeks from now, she will get a treat for being wild enough to survive long enough to have been found.