FAQ

Q. Do you really think Marisol is still out there? Why?

Dogs are tough, and we’ve heard many stories of dogs being found several months to multiple years after being lost. Mari in particular is a savvy dog. She was born in the streets of Puerto Rico and survived for 7 months on her own before being rescued. We adopted her a week after she was taken off the streets. We are realistic and know about all of the threats out there, from cars to other animals to the weather, and we’re also working with realistic professionals. They’ve looked over our sighting data. The sightings indicate she’s still out there, so we’re keeping up the search.

Q. What is the rescue plan?

At this point, Marisol is a feral dog, which doesn’t mean that she’s dangerous, just that she isn’t thinking like a pet. If she sees someone, her instinct isn’t to run up to them and play but to hide, watch, and stay safe. Her first priority is safety then food and then shelter. This makes catching her tough.

The recovery plan is simple:

  1. Collect sightings to figure out where she is.
  2. Set a feeding station to try to get her to visit one spot regularly.
  3. Set traps to catch her. (This is where the Animal Rescue League steps in).

We’ve had sightings in a narrow enough location to set feeding stations a couple of times but haven’t had luck at that step yet. A couple of things have happened to bump her out of areas where she’d settled. Most recently a coyote found the feeding station and returned several times and then marked the area. Mari hasn’t been to that area since (thankfully), so we’re trying to figure out if she’s settled down in a new spot yet and if so where that might be. That’s where sightings come in!

Q. Should I leave food out for her?

While this is a generous impulse, please don’t. The goal is to attract her to one spot, and if Mari’s finding food all over the place, there’s no reason for her to visit the feeding station. It sounds cruel, but we aren’t even supposed to leave much food at the feeding station. The point is to keep her a little hungry so she keeps coming back, and then we can trap her. The Animal Rescue League told us that we should set no more than two feeding stations, and those should be at the edges of where she’s roaming so if she doesn’t get to one, she can still find the other. If the area is fairly tight, one station is okay.

Q. Why not put sedatives in her food?

Sedatives can take several minutes to kick in, and Mari can wander some distance in that time. It isn’t safe for a sedated animal to be out in the wild when she can’t fend for herself or run away from a predator.

Q. If I see Marisol, should I make eye contact with her?

While humans find eye contact to be reassuring, to dogs it’s a sign of establishing dominance. Trying to make eye contact with Mari could appear threatening to her, and we want her to feel safe. Looking away and letting her look you over and sitting down so you’re physically smaller are two ways of appearing less threatening.

Q. If I see Marisol, what should I do?

Try not to startle her. She won’t bolt unless you chase after her or call at her, so just be quiet and still, and if it’s possible, try to look her over as she checks you out. Is she wearing a collar? What does her tail look like? Does she look skinny or a normal weight? Also get a good sense of your surroundings, and then call us right away with a description of where you saw her and how she looked. She probably won’t approach you, which is fine. As mentioned above, we’ll need to trap her, and we need sightings to help set feeding station locations, so those are extremely important.

Q. What does “roaming dog” mean?

Lost dogs have different behaviors based on how they got lost (did they escape from a backyard or was it a traumatic incident?) to how far they’ll wander. Mari is in one of the trickier categories. She’s a roaming dog, and they usually travel a 1-2 mile radius in a circle. She has been doing a loop of about a 1 1/2 mile radius. She has revisited several spots across all of the towns that border the Fells, but her loop is so large and spans so many days that it’s hard to identify a regular pattern unless she picks a spot and settles down for a bit.

Q. Does Marisol have a collar with tags?

When she was lost she had a collar with 3 tags (her 3 year rabies vaccination, the town license, and her name + phone number). We had two sightings in February when two people reported seeing Mari or a Mari-like dog who didn’t have a collar. At this point we don’t know. It’s possible she lost the tags and has the collar or that everything was obscured by her fur (which gets really thick in the winter!). The sightings could also have been of another dog (they were close together).

Q. Is there a pattern to the sightings?

We’ve had fairly contained patterns a couple of times, which is when we set feeding stations. At other times Marisol wanders following her own dog logic, and we don’t know if something bumped her out of the area or if she moved to try to find a better food source. The main thing is that she’s sticking to the Fells and surrounding neighborhoods, so even when she’s wandering, she’s keeping to her 1 1/2 mile radius.

Q. How far can a roaming dog travel over a 24-hour period?

Any dog can travel several miles in a day. When Andrew and I would take Mari hiking in the Fells, we’d do 4-5 mile hikes in an afternoon. The biggest issue with recovering Mari isn’t distance, though. Since the warm November when she’d come out and play with other dogs, she has become much more of a hider during the day and is scavenging overnight. Extended daylight hours and warmer weather help and will hopefully bring her out more, but given her current hours, we’re (understandably) getting fewer sightings.

Q. How did Marisol get her name?

We adopted Mari during a trip to Puerto Rico when we were volunteering with “sato” rescuers. Her shelter name was “Mahiru” which we liked but was a little tough to say, and we wanted to give her a Puerto Rican name. “Mar y sol” means “sea and sun” which we thought was perfect for our new Puerto Rican pup.

Q. What does it mean for the search that she’s thinking like a feral dog and not like a pet?

The first thing is that Mari isn’t dangerous — just because she’s feral doesn’t mean she’s going to attack people. What it actually means is that in surviving on her own for all of this time, her priorities have changed from those of a pet. A pet gets regular food and shelter and has a pack for protection. Mari as a pet was confident and quirky and playful. Right now she’s trying to survive, so if she thinks something might be a threat, she isn’t going to stick around to investigate, she’s going to get somewhere she knows is safe. Her top priority is safety and then food and finally shelter, so she’s likely to keep on the move to stay safe and to find food, and if she finds a quiet area with a stable food source, she may stick around long enough to settle into a regular shelter.

Q. Is it possible that she will approach a person who stays quiet and lies low while putting out a treat of some sort?

It’s possible but not probable. Experienced animal rescuers have all told us that when a dog has been out for this long, it can take hours of patient sitting and waiting for a lost dog to even approach her owner. It varies from case to case, but basically, a dog is much shorter than a human and sees legs, not features. When humans speak, she isn’t listening for words and commands. Noise is simply a warning, and a loud calling noise is a threat.

Sitting so your face is visible and you are physically smaller helps — it makes a dog more likely to approach — but we’ve heard stories of owners who got dogs into feeding station routines and instead of trapping would sit by the station and wait for the dog to approach. Owners (even with treats) have had to sit for several hours while the dog ran back and forth wanting to approach and then backing away because of those feral instincts. Sometimes it takes a trap to catch these dogs. Sometimes familiarity overrides instinct and they approach. In either case, it takes a lot of patience and understanding.

Q. What makes a “good” sighting?

We’ve only had two sightings which we think are 95%+ certain — in one instance, Mari ran up to a dog she knew, played for a minute or two, realized she was surrounded by people and dogs, and bolted back into the woods. In the second, we had two sightings in the same area within minutes of each other, and the second caller got close enough to give us an extremely good description.

When we have follow up questions, we ask about size, coloring, markings, tail shape, collar, tags — any details the caller can remember both about the dog’s appearance and behavior. Most sightings are 50/50 — could be Mari, could also be another dog with similar coloring — and we plot those on a map to try to see if sightings match up or if details from one set can help eliminate another. We know of a couple of Mari lookalikes now and have marked them down, as well!

Q. Where was Marisol most recently seen?

We stopped posting locations of sightings after we unintentionally flooded the Fells in an attempt to catch Mari. As soon as the area got busy, she left, which was really upsetting because we’d been getting regular sightings in the area until then.

The good news is that she has been sticking to the Fells and the surrounding neighborhoods — she isn’t running off into other towns — and every so often she finds a smaller area to settle into, which is when we set comfort stations to try to bring her to us.

Q. I really want to help. What’s the most useful thing I can do?

Spread Mari’s story and let people know that this is an active search. Also let people know what they should and shouldn’t do if they see her (basically call us right away with as many details as possible and don’t scare her by chasing her or trying to catch her!). Simply posting to Facebook and Twitter helps us spread the word exponentially.

When it comes to setting comfort stations and trapping, we’re working with a couple of dog rescue professionals (who are working together!) to figure out locations and setup. If you live near the Fells, talk to your neighbors and peek out your window during trash night just in case she’s out scavenging.

There’s an awesome team of volunteers (Marisol’s Army) who poster, check websites, do email outreach, and call shelters/rescues. If we ever need additional volunteers, we’ll post a call on the blog. We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by all of the support and kindness from complete strangers, and I hope Mari can somehow sense the giant pack that’s behind her and rooting for her.

28 Responses to FAQ

  1. Jill says:

    Anindita- you did an *awesome* job with these FAQs!!

  2. Jan S, says:

    Anindita & Andrew…I think you have done an exellent job on your FAQ
    now with this knowledge we can get more sightings and this will be a wonderful spring with a reunion of Marisol…always thinking of you

  3. bella says:

    great information – thank you! the warmth and sun are sure to bring Marisol out with more people out who will see her. here’s to another sighting!!!

  4. Diana says:

    Fantastic job with the information! I am sure writing this must have been difficult in some way, as you had to look back on the last few months. You’re both amazing, we’re all rooting for you and for your family to be reunited!

  5. jane says:

    Thank you for this information. I know she’ll be found!

  6. Gail says:

    This is a terrific addition to the site–hugely helpful to people who may be just learning about Mari. Great job, Anindita!

  7. Sandy says:

    Have you considered contacting the local TV stations to get them to do an article on your search for Marisol? It would be a great human interest story and some great visibility for you

  8. Mary says:

    I second Sandy’s idea on contacting the media about doing a story on Marisol.
    Over the past months, I have met many people while searching for her. Some had seen the posters but only a handful knew the story behind her disappearance. The Dec. Globe article was the the reason I became part of Marisol’s army. Her story touched my heart and I have never been able to get her out of my mind. When I tell people about her, they are very sympathetic and I believe this leaves more of an impact with them than just looking at a poster. Just something to consider…

  9. Leslie says:

    We’re rooting for the three of you to be back together again!

  10. Beth G says:

    Great points on how not to appear threatening to Mari – or any dog, for that matter.

    Is it worth adding something about what people should do if they have their own dogs with them when they see Mari? I’ve always assumed that I should call my pup to me and not let him approach her (well, actually I assume I’m not likely to see her if Augs is with me, but you get the idea), but guidance might be helpful.

    • anindita says:

      Great question — I’ll add it in. Basically, if your dog is about Mari’s size, she may approach. She’s dog friendly and loves to play! Early on we were trying to lure her with individuals or pairs of people walking different trails with dogs that fit this profile because most of the sightings were of her running out to play and then running off. She also loves to play with puppies.

      If your dog is bigger, though, I’d recommend calling your pup to you. She hasn’t been approaching bigger dogs, and while she’ll play with them when Andrew’s around, she doesn’t approach on her own. She needs someone to hide behind if she gets overwhelmed!

  11. HopeYouFindHerBut says:

    I sincerely hope you find your dog. I really do.

    But please STOP tacking up flyers every 50′ on the Fellsway. It makes the neighborhood look like crap, in addition to all of the other “FindDaisy” and “FindMyDog” posters. If people want to put up signs ON THEIR PROPERTY, fine. Otherwise, cut it out.

  12. kasey says:

    I just saw this website from a commenter that added his comment on a patriot ledger article about a 16 year old dog that was missing since march 24th which they found at the bottom of enbankment.. I cant even imagine what you guys are going through! I have two dogs of my own who tend to wonder off every now and then and after a couple of minutes we start to get frantic but they end up coming right back..I sincerely hope you find Marisol, I’m not from around the area she went missing from but i will keep an extra eye out around the south shore!. Good Luck to you guys and I will check back here to see the updates!
    Oh and dont listen to the previous poster who wrote about stopping the flyers, you guys do whatever you have to do to get the word out about Marisol! Good luck!

  13. Mary says:

    With all due respect to the individual who complained about the posters on the Fellsway, the Fellsway is the property of ALL THE CITIZENS and not your PERSONAL PROPERTY! We do not post on personal property without permission and try not to overload any particular area with signs. As soon as Marisol is rescued, we will remove all the signage. If you don’t like the Fellsway looking like crap, perhaps you could help by picking up some of the litter on the ground.

    • NotAnywhere says:

      Thank you for proving my point – you are posting signs on PUBLIC property to promote your own personal agenda. If everyone did so (especially as aggressively as you folks are doing) then utility poles would be covered with ads, signs, and flyers, making our nice towns look like inner city slums. Would it be OK with you if I put up signs advertising my business, my band*, or my own personal/political point of view, for as long as I wanted? I think not.

      There are laws and ordinances that specifically prohibit this activity, especially to this degree and duration. I fully intend to contact the DPW’s and relevant city offices to complain about what you’re doing, and in the interim will be removing any signs that I encounter in my travels, thus ‘picking up the trash’ that has become an eyesore throughout the area.

      * = I’m not even IN a band, but that’s not the point. Public property is not your personal billboard, especially the Fells which has its own special designations.

      That said, you have EVERY right to go door-to-door with flyers, post signs on PRIVATE property, place ads in newspapers, and whatever else you want to find your dog. You just don’t have the right to make my town look like crap for as long as you want.

      • Sharon says:

        Dear NotAnywhere,
        I’m a little surprised at the degree of your anger, but please I hope you won’t take it out on Andrew and Anindita, who are only trying to find the dog they love so much. From the start, Andrew and Anindita were clear with those of us that were helping with the postering that they did NOT want us to over-poster in the way you have described. I think some people may have become over-zealous in their postering out of a strong desire to see Marisol back home. Although the majority of us involved in the postering have never even met Marisol, Andrew, or Anindita, we have worked hard to try to reunite them. I understand your concern about too many posters, but I hope you will reconsider and not take down all of the posters, or call the DPW to have them all removed. After a long, cold, very snowy winter that had us all extremely worried that Marisol would not make it through, there have finally been more sightings. Without these posters, the people who saw her would not have known who to call, or even that she is a lost dog. And we, as the posterers, can be more respectful of your position, and try not to over-poster.

        • OK says:

          Hi Sharon -

          Thank you for acknowledging my concerns and I apologize if my post was overly angry. Part of that anger is directed towards the FindDaisey folks, who have posters up on three utility poles in a row in-between the Fellsway and the Oak Grove T. Many of their posters have been up all winter and are really starting to look horrible. I know its unfair to lump FindMarisol in the same camp, but the posters were really starting to get excessive in some areas (especially the Fellsway.)

          I’m just trying to prevent the ‘slippery slope’ of every utility pole becoming everyone’s personal billboard for their own personal agenda. I can hold off w/ the DPW, etc, so long as the posters don’t become an eyesore, are reasonably limited (entrances to the Fells where the dog might be hiding, a primary intersection, etc.) and that they’re not up indefinitely.

          I really do hope you find her, and again thanks for hearing my point of view.

          • Joyce says:

            Hi OK,

            I do understand your concern. I feel the same way after people poster for yards sales and never bother to take them down when the sale is over. Instead of contacting the DPW please contact Andrew and Anindita by email and let them know the areas of your concern. I know they will be more then happy to work with you on this issue. All they really want is their pup home.

            Thank You!

          • June Schott says:

            To: Not Anywhere,
            The director of Malden Department of Works is well aware of the numerous “Find Daisy” and/or “Daisy Still Missing” posters all over the City of Malden. For the record, we Daisy volunteers also received permission in Everett, Medford and Melrose to put the posters up as well. Kindly understand that Daisy is still missing, reason why these posters are still up. However, I concur that posters should only be put up spaced out at intersections, stop signs, etc., not put up on three utility poles close together. Rest assured, we Daisy volunteers will start to take down the old worn out posters. Thank you for bringing them to our attention on Marisol’s Website. Regretfully, we only have a limited number of volunteers, but will begin the process of removing the old worn out Daisy posters ASAP. Thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention. It would have been helpful if you had posted your concern on the Daisy sight as well. No problem, some of us do check Marisol’s site as well.
            Peace,
            June

  14. Emily says:

    Thanks to everyone who takes time out of their own lives to put up flyers and work so hard to help find this poor, lost dog. Bravo for people helping people (and animals)!

  15. Mary says:

    I too can appreciate O.K.’s concern and I don’t like to see my town postered with old weathered signs about yard sales etc. We do try to replace old faded posters of Marisol with fresh ones whenever possible. We promise that every poster will be removed when Marisol is rescued which we hope is very soon.

  16. Linda S says:

    Hi,

    Sorry about your missing dog. I am impressed with your efforts to find her! I hike with my dogs a lot in the Fells, it is a fantastic place.

    Not sure from the pics on this web site if there is much of a resemblance, but the picture in the Fells (side view) looks a lot like a dog that was posted on saveadog.com as Princess a couple of months ago. The dog did get adopted. They are a great organization, and I don’t know if Princess was an owner turn-in or a stray, but you might want to contact them just to be sure. They are in Sudbury, MA but take dogs from all over MA and also from out of state.

    Linda

  17. Linda S says:

    I went back and found Princess and she was only a 7 lb dog so obviously not Marison, sorry for the false hope, but you still might want to contact them as they place mostly mixed breed dogs. Their web site is actually saveadog.org.

    Good luck!

  18. Lily Greer says:

    Just to let you know that I got a hyper link to your posting from Themelis Cuiper, search engine result advertisement guru – so you must be doing a beautiful job?

  19. Themelis Cuiper’s SocialGarden case studies > socialmedia advertising & socialmedia marketing shared with me a bookmark to your web page, so you are doing a good job as he provides an address to you. ;-)

  20. kathy says:

    http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/pet/3363973721.html

    Kitten Connection has a dog that looks like your girl

  21. Emily CahanECAHAN says:

    I’m so very,very sorry for you that Marisol is missing. I truly hesitate to ask you this question and you may well wish not to recommend the company that took Marisol to the Fels where she was attacked but if you would kindly share the name of that company I would be grateful.
    Thank you and I wish you well. Should Clio and I go to the Fels I shall certainly keep my eyes peeled. Clio was supposed to be a search and rescue dog but flunked out of the program — otherwise she could be helpful. Perhaps still; it’s rather amazing to see her find her ball in the woods that has a particular smell.
    All the very best,
    Emily

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