Here is Steve’s account of the search for Sailor with his very special tracking Golden Zoe. Here you see Golden Zoe and her dad, Steve Ripley, who helped find the lost Golden Retriever Sailor. Zoe and Steve are taking a lap around the BOB ring to the crowd’s tears and cheers! Zoe is also known as CT Cabin Creek’s Spring Promise CD, WC, CGC (sire Ch. Evergreen’s Mountain Sunset ex Hytree’s Littlest Outlaw, 4/30/03). Janet & Steve Ripley are of Westfield, Indiana.
When we are training dogs for tracking, we usually have a title in mind for the dog and our enjoyment of the sport. In the back of our minds we always hope that some day we can put this training to good practical use. That of finding a lost child, adult, or someone’s 4 legged furry child. Last Thursday on September 28th that situation occurred for me. While attending the Golden Retriever National Specialty in Overland Park, Kansas, the announcer asked if anyone with a tracking dog, willing to track another dog, would come forward and help with a search party for a missing dog named Glenbrook BR Sailn’ T’Seven C’s “Sailor”. When the announcement was made, Sailor had been missing for over 24 hours.
Sailor had been treated at the Vet Clinic for stress colitis causing severe diarrhea. As Shirley Durnel and Vickie were leaving the vets office the door on the left was slamming shut from two Vet personnel going out as Vickie went out the door on the right. As the door on the left side was closing it hit Sailor on the shoulder, the dog started to freak out from being hit and when two dogs entering the clinic were closing on him Sailor bolted, ripping the flexi-lead out of Vickie’s hands. The flexi-lead was bouncing and banging on the sidewalk and pavement which also caused Sailor to run even more. The vet techs that were going out the left side door took off running after him, but even with everyone yelling his name and screaming “no and come”, he ran through the busy intersection. One vehicle slammed on its brakes and nicked him but Sailor continued to run into the office park area and through a hotel area. We lost sight of him after that, and calls came in saying that he had been spotted running across another busy street south of the vets and past the Wendy’s hamburger stand. Sailor was last seen at 2:30 pm on Wednesday September 27th.
Later, on Wednesday evening, Chris Johnson with her dog, Elysian’s Abundantly Amaz’n, JH, WC “Mazey” attempted to track where Sailor had gone. She worked across Quivira into an industrial complex following Cody Street, across College, past the Wendy’s and into to a grassy area where they lost the trail. Mazey is only 20 months old and hasn’t been tracked since she was 6 months old, but Chris knew Mazey would be accurate and give her all. Mazey did for two hours until 10:00 pm the day Sailor bolted. Chris was very concerned that Sailor was bleeding profusely from being clipped by a car. If he was, he needed immediate treatment. Undoubtedly, Mazey had his scent that night. Mazey just didn’t have enough experience or stamina to work out his scent down the asphalt road. She was exhausted and couldn’t go further. At this point the primary search was then focused around a housing addition adjacent to where they lost Sailor’s trail.
On Thursday, we met in the lobby of the host hotel at 4:00 pm and learned the details of how Sailor was lost and were given Sailors crate pad for scenting purposes. After meeting in the lobby, we went to the Vet Clinic at 110th & Quivira where Sailor was lost. Approximately 27 hours after Sailor was lost, I took my dog, Champion Tracker CT Cabin Creek’s Spring Promise, CD WC CGC “Zoe”, and started her at the door. Scenting her off of the crate pad, Zoe worked the scent inventory around the door for several minutes then started working in the direction the dog bolted. Even though I knew the direction the dog went, I let Zoe lead me with her nose. We worked across Quivira, the first of several major highways. We followed along Cody Street staying in the grass and occasionally crossing roads or sidewalks. This road curved back and we crossed College, the 2nd major road. Zoe tracked past the Wendy’s where Sailor was reported to have been seen.
Following this south about a half mile, the road curved again and came back to Quivira. After working across this road, we worked the grassy edge of a construction area for Johnson County Community College. At this point we had covered a mile or so and were a little tired and needed a break. Barb Loree, from Canada, brought her 9 1/2 year old girl Can CH Bojszasgold Jessie WCX Can CD JH WCI TDX VC “Jessie” to help with the search. We waited about 15 minutes for her to get to our location. Barb scented her dog from Sailor’s soft sided crate. Jessie picked up the track and continued south. At this point Zoe had gotten her second wind and started tracking again. The neat part was that both dogs were working about 15 feet apart following scent in the same direction. This was confirmation to me that we were indeed following where Sailor had traveled the day before. We continued across Train road to a farm fence and followed this into someone’s back yard that was blocked on three sides. Zoe worked to the corner of the fence, circled around following a privacy fence to a garage door, checked the door, and continued circling to check a deck, and then back out of the yard to follow a heavily wooded creek line in a northwesterly direction. We followed this to the end where the track curved and headed back to the southwest.
At this point Barb’s dog Jessie had gone as far as she could, so Barb put her up. We continued to follow this tree line in a southwesterly direction passing several soccer fields, a lake, a short woods area, and several walking paths. We continued south to 119th just west of Quivira and through a fence area and turned east. We followed this to 119th & Quivira. At this point, we had been working for 4 hours straight and had covered about 2 1/2 miles and it was full darkness, so we stopped for the night. Zoe and I had a commitment for the next morning so another team came out to help with the search.
Once again on Friday Don and Vickie set out to search and contacted Neida Heusinkvelt to see if she could help with her tracking dogs. Neida brought out Aureo Gracefully Chosen MX MXJ CDX RE TDX WCX Can AGX CDX ANJW WCI “Grace” and Neida’s other young dog – Can CH Aureo Hot Pursuit MX MXJ TD RN WC Can CD AGN but the age of the track was over his head. Grace started tracking Sailor from the same corner where Zoe had left off, across 119th street, another busy street, to directly behind some town homes right next to a heavily overgrown area. This area was quite woody with trees and very overgrown with grass, weeds and tall cover. A small creek ran through this area but was not easy to access at all. Grace seemed to lose the scent at the creek and would not go across the creek. Neida had to leave with her dogs, so Don, Vickie and friends continued the search of that area on foot.
The searchers were working along the bike trail paralleling 119th street and stopped some bikers to ask if they had seen a loose Golden Retriever dog. The bikers had seen a dog 5 minutes earlier and took Don and Vickie to where the dog was seen. Sailor spooked when the biker tried to grab him and returned to the deep cover and hid. Don and Vickie spent approximately 30 minutes calling and searching the field and finally after many calls asking if Sailor wanted a biscuit Don spotted a golden head popping up and down. With a little coaxing Sailor came to Don, not completely sure who it was since it was getting dark. Crouched down in the weeds was Sailor. Tired, hungry and running a fever of 105, but otherwise healthy. His lead and slip collar were missing. After the night at the clinic with an IV, antibiotics, and a bath he is back home safe with mom and dad.
Although Zoe and I did not actually find the dog, we lead them to with in a quarter of a mile of Sailor. I believe that with another hour of daylight and we would have found Sailor on Thursday. This belief is based on where Zoe was leading me and the actual location of Sailor. Zoe led all of the searchers to a totally different area than where they were looking. Without her tracking skills that poor dog might never have been found. Sailor traveled a distance of approximately 3 miles before finding a field with heavy enough cover to hide.
On Saturday an announcement was made to the crowd during the breed judging. Cheers and tears were in abundance that Sailor had been found. A happy ending to a stress filled several days for Don and Vickie Carson.
CT Cabin Creek’s Spring Promise CD WC CGC 04-30-2003 Breeder Barb McCauley by CH Evergreen’s Mountain Sunset & Hytree’s Littlest Outlaw, Owned and Adored by Steve and Janet Ripley and Handled by Steve Ripley
Additional Dogs that worked the search are: Elysian’s Abundantly Amaz’n, JH, WC “Mazey” Handled by Chris Johnson; Can CH Bojszasgold Jessie WCX Can CD JH WCI TDX VC “Jessie” at 9 ½ years old Handled by Barb Loree; Aureo Gracefully Chosen MX MXJ CDX RE TDX WCX Can AGX CDX ANJW WCI “Grace” a 7 year old and Can CH Aureo Hot Pursuit MX MXJ TD RN WC Can CD AGN Both Handled by Neida Heusinkvelt
A Partial list of the foot searchers: (My apologies for any one that was missed) Don and Vickie Carson; Shirley and Russ Durnel; Robin DeSio; Laurel Shaw; Kathy Thompson; Bonnie Thompson; Mark, Alyssa and Jennifer Grossnickle; Tim Barnett; Jennifer DeLaurant and Jenna; Dave and Sharon Sherwood; Jackie Hendricks; Barb Loree; Steve and Janet Ripley; Chris Johnson; Neida Heusinkvelt; Anita (I don’t have her last name); Joelle (I don’t have her last name); Brenda & Brian Woodard; Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center personnel; Fox 4 TV personnel; Radio Station personnel; MHGRC club members; KCGRC club members; GRCA club members