Thinking of you

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Some quick notes

- The long-haired chihuahua who was found in Reading is not Mari. Thanks for calls, emails, comments, and tweets letting us know about her. Hope she’s reunited with her family soon. She looks like a sweet little creature.

- “Feeding station” is probably not the best description of the set-up we had most recently — it wasn’t in the Fells but in the backyard of a residence, and we didn’t introduce a new food source.

We had gotten a possible sighting about a month ago and then got a follow up sighting in June that was pretty close to it — same neighborhood, same section of the Fells. There’s a house on the path between where the owners compost and have been getting animal activity, so we set up a camera to find out what it was — a compost pile provides a stable food source that a lost dog might visit, especially in a residential area that borders the Fells. We knew going in that it was probably a raccoon but wanted to check just in case.

What we got: racoons and a young coyote, approximately Mari-sized, multiple nights in a row.

The person who potentially saw Mari in May says based on photos, she thinks she may have actually seen this coyote. The June sighting was of a dog wearing a collar, so we know for sure that one wasn’t a coyote — not a lot to work from.

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Busy night at the feeding station

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Hot dog

It’s weird to go from worrying about a puppy in a blizzard to a puppy overheating in near 100 degree weather. At least this is weather you know — and swimming is always an option to cool off.

Oh, sol. We keep running into problems. Food disappeared from the station, but the camera’s SD card got corrupted again, and we couldn’t recover the photos. Was it you? Raccoons? Squirrels? Something new and never before photographed? You’re more elusive than the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti combined.

Speaking of elusive, your nemesis the cat from next door appears to have had kittens. I saw an adorable mini-nemesis running around over the weekend. You’d be super excited. More neighborhood cats who might infiltrate our house! En garde.

We’re still trying to figure things out, sol… we got a couple of good outreach ideas, but we were also starting to make peace with everything, but that’s also kind of impossible. We have three different sets of next steps worked out, and in the meantime the feeding station’s up and active. Hopefully we’ll soon find out with what…

Happy dog with ice cube!

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Quick follow-up

I wanted to post a quick follow up to acknowledge all of the fresh suggestions and offers of help. We’ve been getting a lot both by email and in the comments, and we’re trying to figure those out while trying to sort ourselves! Thanks for all of your caring and support and offers of help. It’s appreciated, even though we’re feeling overwhelmed and sad right now.

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Mistress Mari, quite contrary

Just posted to Twitter:

Okay, Marisol, you’re the most crazy-making creature I know. After posting how we’re letting you go, a possible sighting? #marisolsearch

I’m tough, but I don’t know if I’m this tough. #marisolsearch

And then Andrew said:

This: RT @anindita: I’m tough, but I don’t know if I’m this tough. #marisolsearch

To expand on that: we got a possible sighting today — location is consistent with the possible 5/5 sighting. This isn’t a definite sighting — it was from a woman who was jogging in the Fells. An orange dog, about 25-lbs trotted past her. It was a little ragged, and she checked that it had a collar, and then she kept running, assuming it had an owner.

After her run, she saw one of the Fells signs and realized she hadn’t crossed paths with an owner in her 45 minute run, and she and the dog had been going in opposite directions. She wasn’t certain it was Mari, but she wanted to call just in case because the color and size matched, and she hadn’t run across anyone else. If it is Mari, she still has her collar, which is great. The caller had a top down view, so she didn’t notice tags.

Regarding other search/recovery methods: we have talked to the ARL and MAC about things like scaring Mari up by riding mountain bikes through trails and other scenarios (they’ve done all sorts of things in the past). There are conditions under which they’ll do this, but so far Mari’s mobility has been the limiting factor — she takes off and takes a long time to settle into a spot again. She isn’t like Daisy, taking off for miles in some direction, and she is sticking to a particular radius — the goal is not to disrupt that while getting close to her.

The toughest part about all this is the emotional roller coaster, and that’s what’s getting us right now — the weeks of not hearing anything and then a sliver of hope. We’ve talked to others who’ve lost dogs, as well as to our ARL & MAC support about the psychological part of lost dog searches, and how to decide when to call it… sometimes people stop looking because they stop getting sightings, or dogs keep moving and never settle and the rescue scenario’s too tough, and the owners have to make peace with that. Sometimes owners can’t handle the ups and downs anymore. That’s what we’re dealing with right now — how much of the roller coaster we can take. It’s been seven months to the day of getting riled up over a sighting and maybe getting close and then facing a blizzard or lack of sightings or thunderstorms and not hearing anything for weeks and wondering that whole time and then going through the cycle all over again. It’s not that we care about Mari any less or don’t want to do everything we can to bring her back, but the process is crazy-making. We’re tough, but we’re both hitting the limits of our toughness.

And of course everyone has an opinion: She’s gone, just deal. You need to let her go so you can move on with your life — you’ve already done everything you can. Set a deadline, like the end of the summer, and then stop. Try as long as there are sightings. Never stop.

There may never be a resolution to this, and that’s something we’re trying to deal with — not knowing and trying to figure out when/how to call it if we need to. We didn’t have sightings for a month, so we were about to call it, but now? How long do we go on?

Are we certain enough that this sighting was of Mari to set another feeding station? Are we certain enough that it isn’t her to stop? We’ll set something up just in case, of course, and as always hope for a positive outcome, but are we just prolonging the heartbreak? It’s a question we’re trying to work out for ourselves, and I think Andrew summed it up best in an email he sent me today after my follow up call:

:/

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Warm weather

It’s been strange, with the warm weather, we’ve been talking about Mari a lot and posting less… no sightings, not even false ones recently — at least not since the ones we eliminated. With the change in weather, we’ve been talking about the funny warm weather stuff she’d do, like nose bop the bedroom door open to enjoy the air conditioning for a bit (we have a window unit) and then wander back downstairs, leaving the door open of course. The first few times it happened, I blamed Andrew for letting the cold air out, but we figured it out quickly! We’d put ice cubes in Mari’s water bowl, and she’d fish them out and crunch them, leaving bits that’d melt into micro puddles. This weekend, I bought ice cream sandwiches for the first time since she got lost. Of course Mari can’t have chocolate, but I’d let her lick a tiny bit of ice cream off the wrappers — it was our joint treat. She was kind of obsessed with cold things — ice cubes, Frosty Paws, ice cream — for all that she loved to bake outside for hours on end. We’ve also been finding Mari fur again as we’ve been switching out shoes and clothes. It really stuck to everything.

For months, we were sure she was out there, but we’re getting to the point where we just don’t know. It’s easy to be certain when the sightings are solid — when people can describe details like the color of her collar and tags or when she runs up to greet a dog she knows — but the longer we go without definite sightings, the tougher it is. Talking is keeping her alive and present, even if she isn’t here in our house, and it’s also letting us say goodbye a little at a time. We’re so lucky to have adopted such a wonderful little creature, and Mari’s my first dog — first pet of any sort — and I can’t imagine a better companion. The thing is I never had pets growing up because my mom said it was too sad when you lost them — she’d lost a cat for a couple of days and was devastated, and even though it came back that feeling was still there. But Mari’s worth it. I’m so glad we brought her here, where she could become her sassy, smartypantaloons self, that we could teach her games like Find It, and introduced her to squirrels and cats and squeaker toys and blueberries and peanut butter and, of course, bacon.

We still miss you, sol. Hope you’ve got a big stick to crunch, wherever you are.

May 30, 2010

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Trail cam photos

The trail cam picked up the following guys a couple of times over the past few weeks:

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Sighting challenges…

Thanks everyone for emails, texts, comments, and for continuing the check in here. I haven’t posted much in the past two weeks because I’ve been sick and trying to get through basic work commitments and didn’t have any news to share. Andrew’s been quietly holding down the fort.

The weather’s made things tough on the sighting side of things. We don’t know if Mari’s lying low, if something happened to her, or if people are staying in. We got a sighting today from the Fells which we were able to eliminate — the dog had a very different collar from Mari’s — and then there was the sighting reported to the Daisy team this afternoon with this cell phone picture:

Here’s the enlargement by the Daisy team:

Turned out to be a dog from the neighborhood who got out. That makes two non-sol sightings today, but at least we were able to rule them out with confidence. Not knowing is tough, and our May sightings have been challenging in their ambiguity. Besides all the rain, the ones from earlier this month were low on detail — a dog running, a dog pressed against the side of a house at night lit only by an orange streetlight who then ran off — we had one that was more certain, but otherwise it’s really tough to tell.

Yesterday was a very Mari day — warm, sunny, perfect. We spent a lot of it outside, walking around, which is still weird to do, even after so many walks without her. Mari’s a quirky little thing, with a big personality and all sorts of moods — you could tell when she was cranky or content — and the weather affected her in a big way. She hated having rain drop on her head. It annoyed her, so she wouldn’t want to spend time outside as long as the sky was misbehaving. And after bad weather, she’d have to reacquaint herself with every inch of the backyard.

Yesterday would’ve been a day of begging and begging and begging to go outside and sniff the new spring smells. It’d take hours of sniffing before she’d lie out and grin and pant and crunch ice cubes, and oftentimes she’d need several days of poking around before trusting that she knew every inch of the backyard as well as she wanted to.

Investigatory pup

I wonder how long it takes to sniff the Fells.

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Miss you, little one.

Hope you’ve been staying safe and dry and warm.

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