Around 9:00 the first searcher showed up. She never came inside, rather called to find out what the next area/level of search was and just got started. Around the same time the local newspaper called - Star Tribune - and wanted to interview me for a story. He was great, we did it over the phone and he was compassionate, caring and respectful. And even though I had sent the newspaper 2 emails during the night, he found out about Delsin all on his own: going through petfinder.com. Since who ever posted Delsin on Petfinder mentioned he was going to Westminster - that is what caught the reporters eye, as he had done Westminster stories in the past. "Whatever is takes" is what I thought - as I knew I needed the press the really get the word out.
Then I had a series of calls from a lady that was in South Dakota, but her <adult> daughter was at a house fairly close to where I was. She said she thought that my dog had been stuck in their fence(stuck/squished between two fences) the day before. Went on to say that animal control was called and eventually responded (after a long delay) and that the daughter saw animal control get the dog unstuck, but they had lost control and the last she saw - they were chasing him and he was scared. The first call the lady made to me- she wasn't totally convinced it was "my dog" - more of "I think it may have been your dog" type thing. But we had a series of phone calls and each one she became more convinced it was my dog - because she was looking at his photo posted on someones facebook page and the dog her daughter described seemed to be Delsin. The daughter had taken a picture of the dog with her cell phone - when he was stuck in the fence. I asked her to send that to me and sometime mid-morning that photo came in via my cell phone. I hurriedly opened it. My heart sunk, raced, and twisted all around as I looked at the photo. It was Delsin and I could see how stuck and uncomfortable he was in the fence. AND this picture had been taken about 18 hours earlier. Where was he now? The photo left me in a frenzy...yes, someone had finally seen him, but what happened then? I called the lady back, pushed for every exact detail as to what happened, but I got little more. They didn't know what happened to Delsin once he got loose from the fence. Was he at animal control? Had he gotten away from them? If so, where was he now?
Meanwhile, I kept in touch with one of the animal communicators and while it seemed like she had a good connection with him, in hindsight the info she got back wasn't accurate. So my one searcher out there was taking directions from me based on the information I was getting from the communicator. But I would have to say, while animal communication is not 100%, I would utilize it again in a heartbeat...because it was a different animal communicator that told me the day before that it felt like Delsin "was stuck" somewhere...like a fence or something.
But once I had the info that he had been stuck and animal control had come out, I was all over that angle. The frustrating part was that animal control did not open until 12:00 noon, nor was anyone answering the phones. I called and left multiple messages. I kind of figured if I called enough maybe SOMEONE would answer the phone, figuring that someone actually had to be there. But no one ever answered. I called the police - as it is officers that pick up the dogs. I asked for the name of the officer that had responded to the call and boy, that wasn't well received at all with a "WHY DO YOU NEED THAT INFORMATION???" I explained that a witness saw the officer lose Delsin and he was chasing him and that I needed to find out if he indeed caught him or if he had gotten away. Well to say I had my head bitten off wasn't too far from the truth when I was loudly told that I would never ever get that information and I just needed to wait until someone was at the impound at noon. Without her saying it, I definitely got the vibe: "Lady, this is just a stupid dog you lost, what is the big deal??" It is so unfortunate that there is still a huge chunk of society that refuses to recognize that the bond that can occurs between people and their animals is as strong as any bond out there.
It was about 10:00 am at this point. I didn't know if Delsin was safely locked up at the impound, or if my arriving search crews needed to up the search and go further away, do more door to door knocking OR??? Another 100 posters were printed up, maps of the area were printed now so we could better track who went where, where posters were put up, what doors were knocked on. The large dining room table had become the central command post.
Things started to get rather nutty then and I lost all track of time. The emerging of more media. They were now picking up the story and wanted to talk to me. WCCO (CBS) was the first of many on the scene. Another great team of reporter/cameraman. Again, respectful. Asked pertinent questions, didn't try to sensationalize or dig for facts not relevant for the story. But, they took up time. Now the phone was again continually ringing, emails coming in, more people arriving...it was getting chaotic once again with all the activity. My good friend took over the phones, answering the door bell, making a game plan on how to expand the search as I did that first interview. At times I left the interview to talk with someone on the phone that perhaps seemed like a stronger lead, but mostly I just did the interview. They followed my helpers around the house, taping everything that happened. They took their time to get a good story and I was grateful. Again, I felt desperate to get the word out anyway I could. I was feeling better knowing that having the word spread far and wide was going to be the way to get Delsin back to me.
Noon came and went without me even realizing it. It actually was the reporter that said "it is past 12:00 - don't you want to call animal control?"...as by this point, WCCO had been fully brought up to speed as to what had transpired. It was somewhere between 12:15-12:30 that I called animal control. And FINALLY, someone answered!!!! I introduced myself and said I had left many messages...and he responded "Well, Yes you have!" But he was very nice about it. I asked him "Do you have my dog?" and he went on to respond that when he came into work at noon, he saw the color poster on the outside door of the impound - the one with Delsin's color photo on it - so he knew all about Delsin when he went inside. Once inside, he checked the log that dogs are checked into when they arrive and he saw that someone had checked in a ONE YEAR OLD, INTACT MALE, ST BERNARD! And that dog had come in the day before. He thought to himself "that must be the dog on the poster". So he went back in the kennels and sure enough, the "St Bernard" was indeed Delsin. So yes, Delsin was indeed in the impound.
The camera caught all of it on tape when I got off the phone. My knees wanted to buckle, my heart felt like it had temporarily stopped - just with the relief. I SO desperately wanted to sit down(collapse really) and cry - to release all the tension that this had brought. But I didn't. I now needed to get as quick as I could down to the impound. When I asked if "they" (WCCO) wanted to come - they looked at me like I was even nuts to ask that...as they reponded with a "OOOOH YEEAH!!!!!".
With 3 friends, the reporter, the cameraman and 4 vehicles, we descended upon the impound. It is kind of funny - the officer that helped me, took the entourage all in stride and never did ask why they were all there. It was like people came and picked up their lost dogs all the time with the media following them. Very strange but he was also very nice.
I found out at that point, that Delsin had been so caught between the two yard fences (each yard had their own fence and the narrow space inbetween the two yard is where Delsin gut stuck), that they could not get him out via walking him forward or backwards. So, they had to lift the 100+ pound dog up and over a 4 foot fence. They said he was great during it all - that the only challenge was that he is big.
After the formality of paperwork, I rushed into the back where the kennels were to get Delsin. Outwardly he looked no worse for the wear. He was happy to see me, but he was also really pumped up. He pulled me out of there - not so much to leave the place, but to drag me to yet another tree to pee on. He seemed perfectly happy to continue where is journey had left off yesterday - that he could run amuck and pee on every tree, bush and fire hydrant as he could find. I think Delsin was a bit "high" from all the scents he took in on his wanderings around a very dog friendly neighborhood. It was an intact male dogs dream to go for an unescorted walk in a new area, to sniff every single place any other dog had peed (and there are A LOT of dogs in this neighborhood), mark a huge territory for as long as one would want. So, yes, he was happy to see me, but he had also appeared to be happy to have had a good chunk of exercise the day before.
WCCO finished up their report and we parted ways. I headed back to the house knowing that one other news station had planned to come out. But I was also feeling very drained. I no longer needed the adrenaline to keep going while I searched for Delsin and I was crashing. I just really wanted to go back to my brothers house and curl up in bed with my dog, cry, and sleep. That wasn't going to happen...
What news station came next, I can't recall. But like the first one, they took their time. And I gave it to them. I had needed the media, they responded, this was a story that started out sad but had a happy ending, and I was grateful that the media had come. I couldn't just send them away at this point.
The phones kept ringing, the doorbell kept buzzing...my friends kept all that under control as I did the interviews. My friends also immediately got the word out the "DELSIN WAS FOUND". I wished I could have called people myself, but there were times I was in an interview and my friend was on the phone telling people that Delsin was home and I could hear the cheering over the phone line in the other room. The support was beyond amazing.
Just as one interview would end and I would think"Ahhhh, I can eat and relax with Delsin", my friend Denise would say "don't relax yet, another station is coming..." And so it went on all afternoon. The last reporter left about 4:30. And the first reporter (WCCO) was desperately emailing me for photos I had promised, that would ad to the story. So, I now have to sit on email, getting things caught up on that end. I had promised photos to another station, but I could not find that email address..... phew, I gave up, I ran out of juice.... I could hardly talk anymore, certainly fatigue had set in, and such huge relief that I was all but wiped out.
Honestly, I don't rightly remember that evening. I know everyone finally went home. I still had to take care of my nephews - feed them, make sure they did their homework, get them to bed. My other 3 dogs had been lacking attention, so they needed some extra love from me. I know that Delsin finally crashed himself. He had been a "ham" in front of the TV cameras...loving every minute of all the attention...his head swollen from a huge ego that had developed, but he was exhausted as I was. By the time we both crawled into that tiny twin bed - he refusing to get off of it, but laying SMASHED against me - there was nothing left. Relief but numb. Neither one of us fell to sleep easily. Delsin would suddenly sit up and just stare at me. I could hear him say: "I am really happy to be back here with you". He kept doing it throughout the night. He did that for three nights before he finally settled into his usual routine. But I do have to say, he does tend to sleep closer to me and check on me now more often.
I count my blessings: Delsin is back, Delsin was only gone for 24 hours, Delsin all in all was "okay" when he got back to me (he needed, continues to need lots of acupuncture and chiropractic because of perhaps the excessive marking, but probably because of getting lifted out of the fence he was caught in and having been dragged/pushed/shoved into a impound truck then forced to jump out of it from a high height onto concrete). I knew that this could have ended very differently, but I did my best not to dwell on that aspect when he was gone. I am thankful beyond words, that my wonderful, 9 year old berner boy, my true friend Delsin, has more time with me in this life...
Okay, to wrap up the lost dog part of Delsin, I would like to address a couple of things that repeatedly came up on comment boards on various media websites: No collar, no tags - Why?
For those of you that know me, virtually nothing I do or don't do for my dogs, is done in a casual manner. The same is true for lack of microchip. Before I go further, I do want to say that I am not against micro chips in any fashion. They save lives. There are so many documented reports of animals being reunited months, sometimes years later - with their owners, many times miles and miles away from where they first lost the animal. I recommend microchips.
So why is it then, none of my dogs (except for my rescue - and she came with one) have been chipped? To understand it, one needs to understand this breed and the health risks we face with them every day. This breeds average lifespan is only 7 years. That does not mean that the dog is "old" at 7 - most are not. They are vibrant looking, enjoying life, running around, etc. But we have so much cancer in this breed that at least 50% of them will die from it.There is not a pedigree around that does not have cancer in close relatives. If one chooses to have bernese in their life, one is most likely inviting heartbreak into it.
So I attempt to minimize that risk at every level I possibly can. What I do with the dogs, what I feed the dogs, the type of vet care.... I attempt to calculate how much additional risk it puts them at. At best it is very subjective but by and large my dogs have lived well over the average, with the exception of Delsins dad, K'dar - who died of cancer at 8 and Delsin brother Toltec- who died of lymes/anaplasmosis at 5.5 (all my dogs have had this and survived, but Toltecs body just seemed to give up and quit. Many Bernese immune systems just are not strong). All my other dogs have lived to around 10 or 11.
Microchips come into play here, because there is a risk - yes a very small risk, but it is still there - that it increases the chance of cancer. So I have had to weigh the risk of increase cancer due to a chip verses the possibility my dogs will get separated from me. Since I am with my dogs virtually all day, every day and generally very, very careful of any enclosure they are in and they are never left unattended outside even in a yard for more than a few minutes - I felt the risk of losing any of my dogs was very, very small. And that the risk of cancer in any of my dogs is very real.
Obviously any dog can get separated even if one takes the steps that I do. Have I thought about chipping since Delsin's incident? You bet! But I haven't done it. While maybe some people will think that irresponsible, until they have walked in the shoes of going through a horrific cancer with a soul they love more than anyone else, it should not be judged. I still see the risk of losing my dogs via getting "lose" less than losing them to cancer and I will continue to try and stack the cards in favor that my dogs either don't get cancer or get it way later in life.
On to lack of collar. Delsin as well as my other dogs, generally wear a collar with my phone number on it, but not always. I am back and forth with collars. If my young dogs go into a crate when I leave, their collars come off. Sometimes when I let them out of the crate, I don't put collars back on right away. If the dogs are playing - rough-housing - I take them off. Why? Because I had a friend that had one of her dogs strangle (to death) when two dogs were playing and one got their jaw hooked under the other dogs collar. Collars can get hooked onto objects as well. And even though the collars that my dogs wear are not "choke" collars - where they tighten down completely, virtually any collar can get caught, the dogs panics and they can strangle. So I am careful with collars, but generally my dogs do wear them.
Delsin had his collar off. I take it off to give him neck rubs, which I had done that morning that he was lost. With Westminster right around the corner, I kept it off to try and get his hair around his neck to "bounce back" and not leave a ring around the neck for when I showed him. But trust me, when I first saw he was gone, really gone, my heart sank...as I knew he had no collar on, and no chip.
Maybe for some there are easy answers: chip and collar. And in ways they are right and I support that. But we each travel through life making choices best for each of us due to our own experiences in life. All choices carry risk of some sort or another. And it is up to each of us to weigh those risks and not judge others who choose different risks than their own.