On July 1, 2012, while her owners, Jennie Lloyd and Connie Gates, were away on a trip to London, Meggie the sheltie escaped from the dogsitter and has been on the run ever since.
Yesterday, Meggie came home.
It was a long nine months. Her owners have made desperate pleas to the public for information. They put up fliers around town, posted information on Craigslist, and contacted animals shelters and veterinarian offices and police offices. They kept in contact with rescue groups and mail carriers and delivery truck drivers. They even contacted pet detectives, an animal communicator and a pet psychic.
It seemed like everyone on the east side of Rochester was keeping their eyes open for Meggie. What was encouraging was that the skittish sheltie was spotted - running down the road, hanging around backyards, roaming in the parks. Her owners updated the list of sightings and kept track of her whereabouts, setting up feeding stations and leaving the dog’s familiar toys and clothes in an attempt to get Meggie to stay in one place long enough for them to rescue her.
Then in February, Meggie was noticed hanging around one particular home in Penfield, NY. The homeowners started leaving out food, and according to Meggie’s Facebook page, went above and beyond to capture the elusive dog. Meggie’s owners write:
“Our heroes, the homeowners, enclosed a small porch with chicken wire and devised a gate that would drop and enclose her if she came on the porch. Another friend who is an electrical engineer devised a remote switch that dropped the gate in just under a second. The homeowners also bought a surveillance camera so we would know when she came, which was always at night. The camera monitor beeps when the camera is activated.”
For more than a month, Meggie came and went (almost always in the middle of the night) but never stayed still long enough for the homeowners to push the button to lock her into the porch. Meggie’s owners watched and waited and kept track of their beloved dog via the surveillance videos from the Penfield homeowner’s cameras.
Meggie’s owners also enlisted the help of Barbara Hollands, whom they write was “our wildlife expert, who has given us invaluable help and support in the Meggie adventure, looked at the video footage and taught us how to read her body language to know when she was relaxed enough to press the button.”
And yesterday, the plan worked! At 3 AM, Meggie came to eat, the button was pushed and the pup was finally captured.
She’s home and her owners write on their Facebook page:
“Meggie is in good shape for a dog that has been on the run for nine months. She is somewhat thin but by no means starving. Her coat is thick and matted, but nothing we can’t fix. She recognized us quickly and is already very comfortable at home.”
I’ve followed the story in the newspaper ads and on the updated fliers around town, always keeping an eye out since she’d been spotted nearby. (It might take a village to raise a child but it takes the entire communities of several towns to track down a missing sheltie.)
Mostly, though, I imagined the panic Meggie’s owners must have felt going to bed every night knowing their beloved dog was out there somewhere, especially on cold, wintery nights.
There are a lot of train tracks in the area Meggie was running, as well as the Erie Canal and major roadways. During the time Meggie was missing, a Shar-Pei from our neighborhood also went missing. Darling husband helped in the search on the day the dog disappeared, working with the owners to follow it through our town, where it was last spotted near the train tracks the next town over. And then it was gone. Weeks later I noticed the “missing” poster was taken down at the local feed store. When I asked if the dog had finally been found, the cashier told me the dog had been hit by a train.
But thankfully, all is well for Meggie the sheltie. You can learn more about Meggie on her Facebook page.