Perhaps it was ‘Lady Luck’, but search organizers from the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue who had been looking for a lost and afraid dog in Eagan for more than 10 days were quick to recognize the kindness of strangers as the reason for helping bring ‘Lady’ home last week.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Melissa Freer, the foster parent for Lady who fled during a freak entanglement with a sign post that helped her and two companion dogs slip their leashes off on Friday, Nov. 18. ”The Eagan community as a whole really stepped up. We’ve been blown away by the amount of people that wanted to help find her.”
The two other dogs were quickly recovered, coming to Freer after a brief chase and responding to her calls. But Lady was too afraid.
Shortly after Lady ran away a over Twitter and Facebook alerting people that Lady was on the loose. Reports of Lady sightings soon came streaming in helping search organizers focus on different areas.
Spotting the dog is one thing. Due to Lady’s upbringing and background, getting close to the dog or capturing it would be a challenge.
“She was a puppy mill Momma,” said Meaghan Frebault of the Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. “She was a very damaged dog who had zero socialization. It made her a very anxious and untrusting dog.”
“She was in bad shape,” said Freer. “Her former foster Mom said she was pretty much a feral dog. It took a lot of rehab to get her to where she is now.”
Freer took on the daily care of Lady approximately three months ago after about four years of rehab and has quickly formed a bond with the Sheltie in that time. But when Lady got loose during the excitement of the three-dog entanglement and became surrounded by the cars and people nearby, Freer’s calls to come back were lost in the wind.
“Shelties in general are very resourceful and it makes them difficult to catch,” said Frebault, “especially one that’s terrified of people.”
Frebault said at least 50 volunteers from Eagan helped during the search doing everything from helping to set live traps and actively searching, to making signs and distributing flyers. Freer posted frequent updates about the search on her blog.
“It was amazing how many people in Eagan cared about this little dog,” said Frebault. “The fact that so many people saw her and called is the only way we got her back.”
Frebault said “thousands” of flyers were made and distributed and more than 50 signs were made and placed around the search areas. Search organizers were unaware of the city’s sign ordinance and had a number of sings removed by
“A random gal called up and said she knew where those signs were, and this gal went and pulled the signs out of a dumpster,” said Frebault. “I think that speaks to the depth of involvement we encountered from the Eagan community.”
Frebault acknowledged that in placing the signs they “broke a rule we didn’t know about”, and also said that once the city became aware of the full scope of Lady’s plight, they too helped in the effort to locate the lost dog.
“The city was wonderful,” she said. “They worked with us on the signs and we couldn’t be happier with their response.”
For more than ten days, though, all of the searching and publicity failed to lead Lady home. Then on Wednesday, Nov. 30, a series of random acts and kindness of strangers came together to help bring the saga to an end.
Volunteers had left flyers in newspaper boxes around some of the neighborhoods where Lady had been spotted. One resident took it upon himself to bring the flyer down to and post it on the bulletin board. Another man had spotted the flyer at Rainbow and saw Lady shortly after leaving the store. He called the number from the flyer and kept Lady in sight until Freer and other searchers arrived.
“He got out of his car and sat down so Lady wouldn’t be threatened and wouldn’t run,” said Freer. “And he waited. That’s the only way we got her back.”
When Freer arrived, she also sat down…and waited. Eventually, the skittish Sheltie caught her scent and slowly began to approach.
“You could see her sniffing and saying ‘I think I know her’,” said Freer. “Once she got closer, you could really almost hear her mind working.”
Freer said Lady, hair matted with mud and full of burrs from her ordeal, almost seemed to sigh with relief at being finally reunited with a familiar face.
“She (Lady) really trusts Mel (Freer),” said Frebault. “And that’s it. Without her recognizing Mel, I’m not sure she would have ever been caught.”
It might be luck – right place, right time kind of thing. Or it might be that good things happen to good people (and dogs) and random acts of kindness by strangers can have a rippling effect.
For Freer, she’s grateful to have Lady home and credits the Eagan community to making that happen.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. “Thank you.”
The City of Eagan has a Lost Pet Spotter program. According to the city, each year Eagan Animal Control receives about 200 reports of lost pets of which less than 70 percent are reported found if lost for more than four days. For information on how you can help, click here.