THE last of the North Shore’s wayward dogs is back home for Christmas, bringing an end to the almost daily searches of local mountains this month.
To the great relief of owner and professional dog trainer Maureen Fielding, Griffin, a mixed-breed, trained tracking dog, timidly presented himself in the backyard of a home on Prospect Road late Tuesday night after being lost near Mosquito Creek for five days.
The home he stumbled upon belongs to someone to whom Fielding taught dog tracking.
A testament to the species’ place in the Western family, Fielding roused hundreds of local volunteers to help look for Griffin and canvas nearby neighbourhoods; she conscripted the help of many of the tracking dogs she has helped train and even consulted pet psychics and dowsers who used a divination technique with a pendulum to point them in the direction of Griffin.
“People might think that we are a little strange but the fact is, I got there and he (had been) there,” Fielding said.
Unfortunately, Griffin was on the move often, only leaving occasional clues — a temporary den, a bloody paw print and rare sightings by hikers and residents.
“For a couple of days I was about an hour behind him but he kept moving, which makes it difficult,” she said. “It took me several days to figure out his pattern. . . . It took several days to bring it all together to such an incredible happy ending.”
Fielding is “extremely grateful” to the multitude of people who helped bring Griffin home for Christmas.
Ironically, Griffin was instrumental in tracking and finding Ellie Mae, a four-year-old bloodhound, who turned up Thursday after being lost in the backcountry for 10 days. While Griffin was able to flush Ellie Mae back to volunteer searchers, he became lost himself, triggering another all-out search.
As for lessons learned from the ordeal, Fielding said Griffin won’t be going off-leash on any tracking missions for a while, and she’ll now be recommending dog collar GPS units as Christmas gifts for people who hit the trails with their dogs.
But there are some even more poignant takeaways from this, she added, especially for people who have lost pets.
“Be persistent, determined and active in getting your pet back. You can’t give up hope,” she said.
And there’s also uncanny matter of Griffin coming out of the woods and into the backyard of a home he had never been to before, but likely recognized the scent of thanks to spending time with the owners’ dogs.
“I just cannot see that as a coincidence. It’s just phenomenal,” she said,
Ellie Mae and Griffin are just the most recent lost dogs to spur large-scale search efforts. On Dec. 8, Ohly, a Bernese mountain dog, was captured by North Shore Rescue volunteers after he went missing in one of the more treacherous areas of the North Shore’s backcountry.