As promised, this is the last Holy Crap posting. Here’s how it ended:
Gracie proved to be nearly impossible to trap. Worried she’d inevitably be hit by a car (like Brownie), we brainstormed for a solution when I remembered seeing a discarded portable basketball system on the side of a secluded dirt road.
We rolled it down to where Gracie eats, cut up licorice plants, then placed a 4’ round net under the hoop. After tying ropes to the edges of the net and connecting them with a carabiner, we looped another cord through that and over the hoop. We covered the net in plantings, then practiced “trapping” a large rock. It worked beautifully, so we put food in the middle.
We then took the rope 40 feet into the bushes, where Toni hid.
Since Toni couldn’t see when Gracie arrived, I hid in a cardboard box across the road, ready to alert her of the dog’s arrival.
Loretta, our look-out, parked at the end of the dirt road, binoculars in hand. Our plan: Loretta would text us, SHE’S COMING! I’d watch and wait as Gracie stepped onto the net, then call Toni (whose phone would vibrate). That would signal her to quickly pull the rope, suspending Gracie off the ground. I’d jump from the box and run to scoop her up while Loretta drove over to assist. Easy peasy.
For the next 6 hours I kept occupied by reciting the alphabet backward until I did it as quickly as forward. I made hand puppets in the shadows inside the box and sang songs under my breath. Fun stuff like that. Meanwhile, Toni sat holding the rope taut while Loretta, in her SUV, acted as our eyes.
Finally Gracie appeared! She trotted down the road toward our trap, but — and I still can’t believe this — at that exact moment, a guy in a Jeep pulled onto the road as well. Gracie spotted him, stopped in her tracks, spun around and tore off in the opposite direction. Once again we couldn’t get a break. We waited another 5 hours for her to return, but she never did.
Not deterred by our bad luck, we regrouped back at the sight the next evening, along with Toni’s friend, Christina. But while we waited for Toni (who had the net), she called to say she was running late.
Needing to head home and change first, Toni said she’d cut over on a side street to hand off the net for us to set up. But as she turned onto the street, she saw something lying motionless in the middle of the road and whispered to herself, Oh no, oh no...But sadly, Gracie’s luck had finally run out.
Toni jumped from her car, cradled the bloody dog in a blanket and called me. “I have her! Meet me on the road. We need to go to Pet Emergency!” From 100 yards away we could hear Gracie yelping as Christina, Loretta and I dashed to our cars.
Toni placed Gracie in the back seat while Christina called a veterinarian friend who was closest to our location. It was after hours, but he graciously agreed to meet us at his clinic. Gracie yelped the entire way as we caravanned at 80 miles an hour down the freeway which, for once, was traffic-free. After sedating her, the vet took x-rays and examined Gracie. He found she had a fractured pelvis, an open wound on her abdomen, a facial laceration and broken teeth. But being the fighter she is, she survived.
After shaving her, the vet discovered an abundance of fleas, an ear infection, foxtails embedded in her skin, burs between her toes and in her ears. He even collected a bottle full of ticks.
Gracie spent the next couple days at the clinic while an array of orthopedic surgeons were contacted to determine a course of action. Ultimately, the consensus was that cage rest for 2 months would render the same result as surgery.
Gracie is home now with Toni and will be reunited with Brownie next week once he’s recovered from his amputation. The pups, having reverted to a feral existence on Mare Island, are still frightened of people. But Toni will fix that.
Although the pup pursuit saga didn’t end the way we’d hoped, some things did go our way for which we’re grateful…If Loretta and I hadn’t been trapping ferals for relocation, we wouldn’t have found the abandoned dogs…If Toni hadn’t first spotted them, they might have starved…If she hadn’t worked late that day, she wouldn’t have turned down the side street where she discovered Gracie in the road.
Over a month of time and effort went into saving these abandoned dogs. For us it was worth it. And if Gulliver, Brownie and Gracie could talk, I bet they’d say the same — amputation, fractured pelvis and everything else.
After all, they get to finally know what it is to love and be loved.