Christmas tree hunt turns into rescue


Last updated 12/5/2023 at 9:31am

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A group of Christmas tree-hunting kids found a dog that had gone missing in the woods near Sisters.

Cutting trees in the forest turned out to be more of an adventure than four Sisters Country families imagined.

A group of about 20 headed toward Round Lake last week in search of the perfect Christmas tree, an annual tradition. After completing the mission and bagging four handsome specimens, the families gathered around a bonfire.

From out of the shadows, at first cowering, appeared a dog, not one of the five belonging to the tree hunters. The dog, a bit worse for wear, was coaxed to join the group. Within minutes he was snuggled in with the assembled.

A few in the group thought the dog looked like one they'd seen only that morning on posters hung around town and Forest Service roads asking for help in finding two lost dogs. This fur boy had no name tag, but his rabies tag included the name of the vet.

The vet was called, who in turn called the owner, who excitedly called the rescuers. Turns out this fellow was Tucker, who looked mostly like a black lab. However, Tucker (9) had a companion, a younger dog - a lab/pit mix around 2 years old, named Bruno - who was also missing.

Both dogs had been with their owners the previous day on a Christmas tree hunt when they ran off. After a frantic search the duo's owners gave up for the night. But they didn't give up hope. They printed up signs and posted them around town, worried that the pair might be lost to the elements or a pack of coyotes.

When they heard that a second dog was missing, without a moment's hesitancy the posse of a dozen kids, aged 6 to 9, organized a search and fanned out calling for the dog. Around 20 minutes later a shout went out: "I found him! I found him!" And within minutes the furry pals were reunited and delivered to their anxious and grateful humans.

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Jason Ellison, deputy fire chief at Black Butte Ranch, one of the dads on the trip, told The Nugget, "The kids were determined to find the dog. They weren't going home until they did. You've never seen such a bunch of happy faces."

While all ended well, it's a good reminder that if your pets have a tendency to take off in the woods be sure they have tags with whom to call if found. And, consider the ultimate value of keeping them on a lead.

This story could just as easily have gone the other way. Each year, approximately 10 million pets are lost in the United States, and millions of those end up in the nation's animal shelters. Tragically, only 15 percent of dogs and two percent of cats in shelters without ID tags or microchips are reunited with their owners.

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To prevent the heartache of losing a pet, the American Humane Society created "Every Day is Tag Day," a nationwide effort held annually on the first Saturday in April. The event unites thousands of animal care and control agencies, veterinarians, and humane organizations in the common goal of urging pet owners to equip their pets with ID tags and/or microchips to maximize the chance of their safe return if they stray from home or are lost on vacation.

Canines who are suddenly separated from their owners will sooner or later switch to what is referred to as "survival mode." This is a flight auto-response when your dog will revert to its primal instincts, seemingly forget domestic life, and focus on nothing other than food, safety, and shelter. Some dogs will switch to survival mode instantly, while others might take weeks.

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What does this mean? There's a possibility that upon getting lost, a dog won't instantly head toward a human voice when it hears a call. If it's in survival mode, a dog might be wary of people and run immediately if spotted. Survival mode, however, isn't a permanent state. When you find him, it might take time but your dog will eventually recognize and re-bond with you.


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