The Deer River Doodles

Kiro and Bear

Lost: Unknown

Retrieved: May 15, 2014

Outcome: Transferred to, fostered and adopted out as a pair by 4 Luv of Dog Rescue

Case Manager: Greg James

Two very skittish, black, shaggy, matted dogs had been seen roaming the town of Deer River, MN and the immediate surrounding area for at least three months.  The dogs looked identical and could have been litter-mates.  Many in town had seen them, fed them scraps and even tried to capture them over the course of the time they were being seen.  Most often they were spending time near the railroad tracks through town and were also seen on many occasions eating roadkill to survive.

One angelic resident of Deer River, Bobbi Jo, took a special interest in these two dogs and in helping them find their owners or at minimum, safety.  All typical methods of contacting authorities, taking out ads in the local paper and reaching out to the area shelters were done to see if anyone had been missing these two dogs.  Unfortunately all attempts ended with dead ends and seemingly no one was missing these two dogs.  This did not stop Bobbi Jo from wanting to help them so she reached out to our team to see if we could help capture them.  At the time she contacted us, she informed us the local police department had given permission to the game warden to shoot the dogs if he saw them.  Apparently the two dogs had started chasing deer in the area – presumably to gain food to survive…

Upon hearing the news of the potential of them being shot, a plan was immediately put into place.  Two Missy Traps were brought to Deer River.  The thought being that we needed to make sure the trap was big enough to be inviting for both dogs to enter at the same time.  We did not want to catch one at a time and risk scaring the 2nd off and losing them.  Two days and nights were spent with the trap in two different locations, but because we did not yet have them in a predictable pattern or returning to a consistent feeding station yet, we did not catch them that first weekend.  However we did see them a couple times and in fact Bobbi Jo had the daring one of the two eating from her hand at one point.  The daring one would approach Bobbi Jo, but the shy one would not get any closer than 50 feet.

We decided to have Bobbi Jo try to establish a single feeding station and she also spread word to those in town to stop feeding them scraps.  Of course we wanted the two dogs to return to Bobbi Jo’s food supply every time and get into that routine.  The plan worked great and even more importantly, Bobbi Jo did a fantastic job of even starting to gain the trust of both dogs.  Over the course of the next 6 days Bobbi Jo was feeding them 3 times a day and each time, they were excited to see her and there waiting for her to get more food.

So one week after the initial trip to Deer River, I went back up and set up the trap right near their feeding station.  I laughed as both dogs sat and watched me set up the trap from a slight distance.  After set up, Bobbi Jo started feeding them and actually entered the trap and sat down near the back, while I sat in my jeep at a distance waiting to close the gate by killing power to the electro-magnet.  The daring of the two dogs went in almost immediately, but it took about 5 minutes before the shy one finally entered far enough to close the gate.  We had them both.

We named the two dogs Kiro (the daring one) and Bear (the shy one).  They are very gentle black golden doodles and appear to be young siblings.  I brought them back to the twin cities with me and they went to a rescue the next day after spending the night at Jen’s house from The Retrievers.  Bear was diagnosed with Anaplasmosis which would explain why he would limp on occasion when seen in Deer River.  At last account, they are both doing wonderfully in rescue and got a much needed spa day to get rid of all the ticks and mats in their fur.  They will be adopted out as a pair as they are very bonded.

A very special applause has to go out to Bobbi Jo, in the safe capture of Kiro and Bear.  Her stepping up and making an extraordinary effort to help these two dogs when many would have preferred they be shot, says so much about how she cared for these two.  Bobbi Jo was determined and did all the right things in contacting locals and authorities initially, then tracking sightings, then setting up a feeding station which ultimately made the capture rather easy.  Bless you Bobbi Jo.

Rowan in Owen


Lost: Unknown

Retrieved: April 12, 2014

Outcome: Fostered in private home

Case Manager: Devon Thomas Treadwell

On our Facebook page we learned of a Good Samaritan who was trying to help a stray dog in Owen, Wisconsin. For two months she had appealed to local authorities, to no avail. In desperation, she turned to the Retrievers.

As her job required driving between local communities, Tammy had frequently seen the dog in a field next to Hwy 29. Neighbors estimated that the dog, which she called “Owen,” had been in the area for up to two years. There was no photo—he would not allow anyone close enough to get decent shot. Neighbors described him as a setter or retriever mix.

Although that part of Wisconsin is outside of our normal operations area, I offered to take the case because I have personal connections to the town. I arrived early afternoon on a Saturday, set up the Missy Trap to trigger manually by cutting power to an electromagnet, then waited in my car a short distance away.

But Owen never showed. At 10:30 p.m., I reluctantly locked the trap gate open, turned on the cellular trail cam, instructed Tammy to stock the trap nightly with high-value food, then made the two-and-a-half-hour drive back to the Twin Cities.

For two days, we received no photos from the camera and assumed that it had malfunctioned. But then we discovered that our hosting service’s spam filter had intercepted the shots, and suddenly 80 timestamped images poured into our email boxes.

We learned that Owen had visited the trap only a few minutes after we had packed up and left. And he came again every night that week—multiple times a night, and usually around the same hours. In one shot, he was close enough to the camera for us to see that “he” was really a “she.” From that point, we began to call her “Rowan.”

Monitoring her activities by trail cam for a week enabled us to predict when she would visit the trap. The following Friday, I returned to Owen, this time with a colleague—M.J. Brookes—our newly developed photoelectric sensor system, and a catchpole specially designed and constructed by teammate Jen Eidbo.

The trail cam images had shown that a neighbor’s cat often visited the trap, so we set the sensor at a height too high for it to inadvertently break the beam and cause the gate to drop. And because we suspected Rowan had avoided the trap when we were present the previous weekend, we waited in a car parked 100 yards away as we monitored the trap via a video surveillance system comprised of Skype and two smartphones.

Rowan came by right on time at 9:45 p.m., but shocked us by skittering beneath the sensor beam. In less than 30 seconds, she ate much of her food and exited the trap without triggering the gate. Thankfully, because we’d observed her patterns, we knew she would be back. We lowered the sensor and waited again.

Rowan returned at 11:20 p.m., and this time walked through the beam and triggered the gate. As we approached the trap, she started climbing up the meshed panels and was halfway out when I was able to get the catchpole on her. She jumped down to the ground and went into a full-scale panic, writhing and growling and snarling and gnawing on the lead on the catchpole.

Luckily, we were able to get her into a crate before she could chew completely through and escape. Once she was in the crate and the tension was off the lead, she quickly calmed down.

Rowan turned out to be a much smaller dog than we had expected—likely a beagle/shepherd mix. Her later vet visit revealed her weight at only 33 pounds. No wonder she was able to duck under the beam! The vet estimated her age at 1 1/2 years. Though she was not spayed, she shows no evidence of having had a litter. She is heartworm-free, basically healthy, and not microchipped.

Rowan’s return to a home environment has been more successful than anyone could have predicted. Tammy reports that within the first few days, she was playing with the family’s other dogs and even enjoyed being brushed and petted by Tammy and her husband.

You can follow Rowan’s story on her Facebook page, Hope for Owen.

See also:

Woman Committed to Helping Stray Dog — Marshfield News Herald, April 21, 2014

Stray dog captured and given a home — Leader Telegram, May 5, 2014

Small But Resilient


Lost: November 2013

Retrieved: April 13, 2014

Outcome: Returned to adoptive family

Case Manager: Jessica Peterson

Chloe the day she was adopted and went missing in November 2013

Chloe the day she was adopted
and went missing in November

The Retrievers learned of Chloe through her lost dog posting in late Nov 2013.  She escaped her harness while at Petsmart just after being adopted.  There were zero sightings of this Pomeranian and given the coldest winter in Minnesota history, the outlook on hope was slim.

In April of 2014, The Retrievers heard from a Good Samaritan (GS) who had spotted a Pomeranian regularly in her neighborhood and visiting their home for food they were providing it.   There were thoughts this could be Chloe from Nov, but could it really be after all this time? Given how small she was, could she have really survived the coldest winter in Minnesota history on her own?  Only time would tell….
The Retrievers partnered with the GS to provide a wire crate to use as a trap and with their ingenuity they were able to outfit the trap with a rope  that was run to their home, and two live cameras they would monitor from their home.  Then they waited….about 10 days after first sighting the Pomeranian and setting regular feeding stations, there she came and the GS was ready and watching the video feed from their cameras set up near the trap.  They used the cameras to make sure she was all the way into the trap before pulling the gate closed with the rope.  They got her!

After speaking with the owner and wondering of this really could be Chloe, it was determined that this precious little girl was indeed her and she had survived the winter.  Pure resilience.

Chloe visiting the front yard of the GS in April 2014.

Chloe visiting the front yard of
the GS in April 2014.

Huge kudos to the GS whose goodwill and determination got this brave little girl out of the cold and back to her loving home where she belonged!
The Retrievers like Chloe’s story for a few reasons…. It’s further evidence that there are many people out there with kind hearts that are willing to go the extra mile to help animals in need, and it shows how creative anyone can be in helping safely capture dogs in Chloe’s situation.  Most of all it proves what we often tell people who are missing dogs: They are very resilient and you must give them credit for their survival capabilities…

The Pit in the Box


Lost: Unknown

Retrieved:  March 27 2014

Outcome: Transferred to Rescue

Case Manager: Jen Eidbo



Minneapolis residents Josh and Ashley woke at 3 a.m. to their dog Casey barking, and when they looked out the window, the saw a dog outside their house. Possibly a bull terrier/Vizsla mix, the dog was there the next day, too, but ran when Josh tried to catch him. They placed a shelter–a cardboard box lined with a sleeping bag–in their front yard and started putting out food, and the dog seemed pleased to have both.

Although Josh reached out to local rescues to help “Pete,” sadly none were able to come to his aid. However, we learned about Pete through our network of friends and rescue advocates, and Retriever Jen Eidbo went to the house to help.

She found Pete lying in the box–shaking with fear–so she immediately sat to one side and asked Josh to bring her pieces of hotdog and a leash. Pete sniffed her hand with no issues. Jen fed him dog treats and slowly gained his trust. In time, he let her pet his neck, ears and muzzle.

With every piece of hotdog, Jen moved the leash a little closer. When she was finally able to get the leash around his neck, Pete was still shaking but did not attempt to bolt.

They then opened the top of the box and petted Pete for a while, but he wouldn’t come out on his own. So Jen gently pulled the sleeping bag out from under him, causing him to slowly stand and walk out. With a little coaxing, Pete was led into the house and into a crate lined with the same bedding that had comforted him for the last couple of days.

Josh and Ashley fostered Pete for several days until a rescue was found. He was transferred to 4 Luv of Dog for placement into a permanent home.

A Winter Survivor


Lost: Unknown

Retrieved: March 22, 2014

Outcome: Transferred to Chesapeake Retriever Rescue of Wisconsin

Case Manager: Greg James

In March 2014, we learned about a stray Chesapeake Bay Retriever who had shown up in the North Branch, Minnesota, area the previous fall. Fed by several Good Samaritan families, the Chessie had survived on his own in a wooded area through the harsh winter of 2013-2014.


Yukon, who turned out to be
remarkably friendly, receives
some affection from Retriever
founder, Greg James.

This dog was seemingly friendly, but was not willing to let anyone get within 100 feet to try to help him.

An action plan was put in place and the Retrievers team set out the Missy Trap to try to bring this survivor in from the cold.  Because the families had done such a good job of getting the dog into a feeding routine, he was remaining in the general area and returning to the same two locations for food.

We set up the Missy Trap at 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon as the Chessie sat and watched from a distance.  Initially, we’d planned to lock the gate open for the night to allow him to get comfortable with the trap. But since he was not scared away by our commotion, we decided to try to catch him that same day.

For four hours, we observed him from inside a parked vehicle as he walked hesitantly around the trap, too skittish to enter. But eventually, the aroma of the tasty bait and treats inside overpowered his fear. Once he was far enough into the trap, we triggered the gate to close, and we had him.

We named him Winter. He is as kind a dog you could ever meet, and he seemed to be relieved when we caught him. He spent his first night with one of the Retriever team members, and the following morning was transported to the Chesapeake Retriever Rescue of Wisconsin.  He is doing very well in foster care and they have renamed him Yukon.

The Shy Shepherd


Lost: December 8, 2013

Retrieved: February 6, 2014

Outcome: Returned to Rescue

Case Manager: Mary Stross Davis

On December 8, 2013, Samuel slipped his collar shortly after arriving at a local rescue’s foster home. Numerous volunteers from the rescue mounted an aggressive search for the young German Shepherd, putting countless flyers into the hands of residents and businesses in the area and placing signs at many intersections.

In late January, a Good Samaritan in the area noticed Samuel in his yard of his home. At first glance he thought Samuel was a coyote, but he quickly realized it was a German Shepherd. He and his wife recalled the signs they’d seen for Samuel, and they contacted his rescue. For two weeks, the homeowner left food every day in the same location in his backyard, and soon Samuel was making the trip to the feeding station a couple times a day, often around 3 p.m.

Habituating Samuel to the feeding station was key, because now we were able to deploy the Missy Trap where we expected he would be. We set up the trap on a Saturday morning. According to photos from the trail camera, Samuel visited the trap several times that day.

We decided to lock the gate open for the first day to allow Samuel to get used to the trap’s presence and be comfortable going inside. We learned from the trail cam that he went inside the trap each time he stopped by. The following day, February 6, we set the trap door to trigger using an electromagnetic release. Retrievers volunteer Greg James and Samuel’s foster observed from a vehicle parked 200 feet away, waiting for Samuel to make his appearance.

At 3 o’clock, right on schedule, Samuel walked out of the woods and slowly approached the trap. Enticed by the fresh food at the back of the trap, he walked fully inside. Greg cut the power to the electromagnet, triggering the gate to fall closed.

After 70 long days on his own in the harsh Minnesota winter—which had included stretches of subzero weather caused by a polar vortex—Samuel was finally captured and was returned to his foster home. He had lost 30 pounds but was otherwise in good health—a true testament to the resilience of these dogs when they are on their own.

As of this writing, Samuel is safe, warm and doing well in his foster home.