She would stay 20 or 30 yards ahead of us, not running, but keeping a steady pace, and would occasionally stop and look back at us, but would never make any attempt to come and get to know Junior. She would eat the treats that I tossed to her (a huge “leftover” NY strip, medium rare, that my hubby never missed, cut into little pieces. Junior noticed, and wasn’t too happy with me throwing HIS steak away), but not until we backed off enough for her to feel comfortable. But, she wasn’t having any part of us getting close enough to her to touch, much less catch.
I talked to people at several state office buildings in the capitol complex, and lots had seen her, but none had ever seen her approach a person, nor let herself be approached. But, she was obviously getting enough to eat somewhere.
After two weeks, I had to return the trap, and pretty much gave up on catching this wily girl. Scott (the state employee) said that he would keep trying to gain her trust.
A month or so later, Scott called me and said that he had contacted another rescue group, and the lady that ran it had some experience in catching feral animals. They had acquired some tranquilizer from a veterinarian, and they were going to give it to her in some food, and watch her, so that when she went to sleep, they could catch her, and he wanted to know if I would take her. Well, uh, yes. I guessed so. So, that next weekend, I waited for Scott to call. He did finally call, but not to tell me he was bringing Sassy to me. He said that they had given her the tranquilizer, but it hadn’t had any effect on her, so they were going to give her a stronger dose the next weekend.
The next weekend rolled around, and late on Sunday, Scott called again. They had doubled the dose of tranquilizer, and the vet had assured them that it was more than sufficient for Sassy to lay down and go to sleep. Well, she had eaten it, and after about an hour, she got a little wobbly on her feet, but she never got so woozy that they could get close to her. This was one tough basenji girl!
The lady at the other rescue was not so willing to give up as I was. She put out some cameras at the same place I had set the trap (apparently I had at least gotten that part right), and observed her, so that she could see what type of trap would work best to capture Sassy. She devised her plan, and it was successful.
Finally, on September 20th, I got a call from Scott, again. They had finally caught Sassy! She was at the vet being checked out, given shots, and de-flea’d and de-ticked. She appeared to be healthy (and definitely not underweight), and was calm when they took her out of the trap and put her in a crate. She had not given them a bit of trouble at all. She had a small scar on a back thigh that Scott and I had both seen on earlier sightings, but it was only superficial, and she weighed a “healthy” 22 pounds.
I don’t yet dare to put her out in my backyard, even with some of my other dogs. She is clearly frightened by them, and I am afraid that if I turn her loose in the yard, I would never be able to catch her again. My yard is too large, and she is still too afraid of people. But, when I carry her (which is often), she never struggles to get away. For now, she goes into a kennel runs so that she can get some outside time, and get to know the other dogs through the fence.
Otherwise, she is walked on a leash for exercise, and although she doesn’t pull on the leash, it is clear she isn’t too crazy about the arrangement. But, there are small signs that she is adjusting.
She will sit quietly on the couch with me, front legs across my legs, and ever so gradually relax as I scratch her cheek. Until I cough, or the phone rings, or there’s a loud noise on the TV. Then, she jumps, and I can feel the terror in her body. She really is a tough little girl. Her mere survival has proven just how tough she can be.
Sassy reminds me of something I used to tell the nice little old ladies who always asked me, when I was a cop, if I wasn’t scared being out there by myself. And, I would tell them that yes, I was scared. But, being scared kept me safe, because it kept me alert to the dangers around me. Being scared has probably kept Sassy safe, too, because it made her very alert to the dangers around her.
Rehabilitation is a big part of many successful rescues, and I’ll keep you posted on how she’s coming along. After all, this is Sassy…and she is determined!
…to be continued