The Story of Lobo - December 2009Vet visit 1/2010 | Update 4/2010
On December 18th, GPRNC was contacted by Cammi and Ron Brankov of Red Bluff California. Ron is an "adventure bike" (a motorcycle that is for both pavement and dirt roads) rider and likes to ride the back roads of Tehama county. It's an area of rolling hills, hidden valleys and scattered livestock ranches.
During one of Ron's rides he came across a sheep ranch that had close to a dozen working LDG's and became fascinated by them. In the early part of December Ron was riding through the area and noticed that the ranch was abandoned, the sheep were gone but that there were still two of the dogs hanging around the ranch and they appeared to be starving. Being familiar with the area he talked to a local rancher who advised him that the ranch had lost its lease several months earlier, had sold or moved the sheep (and most of the dogs with them) and, for some unknown reason, abandoned the last two remaining. It was later learned that there were 3 but that the third one was rumored to have been shot by another neighboring rancher. When Ron asked what would happen to the dogs, he was told that the two would probably end up shot as well.
Ron took pictures of the dogs and Cammi contacted GPRNC and asked for help. In the mean time he and two local ranchers began to bring food to the dogs, which were by now were malnourished . Ron put up a sign advising that we were on our way and to please not hurt the dogs. This later turned out not be a good idea.
On December 22nd our oldest son Tyler (a veteran of many a-rescue-run) and I went to Red Bluff (a 3-hour drive) and met up with Ron and a friend of his who took us out to the ranch . Ron had told us that one of the two dogs was very friendly and that the other one was somewhat shy but would come close to be fed. The plan was to use the friendly one to allow us to get close to the shy one to either catch it using various methods we had at our disposal, or to bait him with McDonald's cheeseburgers laced with a mild sedative and then catch him.
When we arrived, we discovered that the friendly one had been taken by someone the day before. It is believed that the sign Ron left advising we were coming tipped off someone that the dogs were unclaimed and basically up for grabs. As soon as the shy one (whom we now call Lobo) saw us, he headed across country into the surrounding hills and brush away from the ranch. Tyler (a former marine trained in orienteering and land navigation) trailed Lobo through the hills while Ron, his friend and I attempted to head them off at various roads and trails. After 2 hours (and several miles of hills) Tyler lost sight of him in the heavy brush (and after coming face to face with wild piglets, a very dangerous situation because Mama is somewhere nearby!) and we returned the ranch yard to plan our next move. While discussing my plan, we looked over to one side only to see Lobo looking at us from beyond a barn! He had circled the ranch and had come back to it down a creek that ran through the property!
We laid out the baited burgers in the pan that the locals had been using to feed the dog, Ron and his friend left (to lower Lobo's stress level) and Tyler climbed a ridge and established an observation post overlooking the entire ranch . Not long after that Lobo came and took the bait. After giving the sedative time to work, we attempted to approach Lobo but he was already stressed and the sedative had little effect. After another two hours and several miles of trailing him, we lost track of him in the heavy brush and darkness (we had now been there almost 6 hours). For safety reasons, we were forced to call off the search and head home empty handed and very worried. We had determined during the day that, in addition to being malnourished, Lobo was a) lame, b) partially deaf and/or had a very bad ear infection. We had also heard 2 separate coyote packs in the area and were afraid that Lobo, now alone and in very poor health, would soon fall prey to local predators.
On December 29th, after consulting with Dr. Jennifer Larsen DVM of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (a former Pyr owner and experienced large breed dog person) and Dr. Karen Mulvihill, DVM of the Sacramento Animal Hospital (GPRNC's and our primary vet clinic, also very experienced with Pyrs), I returned to the ranch. This time I was accompanied by Debi (whom I call a "dog whisperer" as she has coaxed in many shy dogs before), her in-heat female Pyr, Gracie, a homemade 12ft catch pole and a more powerful sedative. Our plan was to park about a ¼ mile up the road from the ranch, Debi would walk Gracie down to the ranch; see if they could attract Lobo to them and if not, set out the bait (canned dog food this time) and walk on through. I was to drive right on through the ranch (so that he would not see me personally) to the observation post (OP) we had established last trip and meet up with Debi there if Lobo didn't come to her. Then we would wait for the sedatives to take effect. We were hoping that Lobo would want to come check out another Pyr, or at the least be interested in a female in heat. As they say, The best laid plans of mice and men….. While on the road to the ranch, we met up with Ron, who was coming out to feed and check on Lobo. He followed us to where we were stopping to put the plan into motion. When we arrived, we stopped the truck and got out only to discover that we were stopped less than 50 feet from Lobo who took one look at all of us and headed off across the field! So much for the plan…
We decided to go ahead and put the rest of the plan in action and see what happens. Ron left; I drove through the ranch and up to the OP and Debi walked Gracie around where Lobo could see her . Lobo appeared interested but didn't move from where he had gone to ground. Then the next hitch in the plan made itself apparent. When Debi went to the food bowls to set out the bait, she discovered that there was a great deal of food there. Someone had emptied the majority of a 35lb bag on dog food into the bowls and there was evidence of canned food as well. Now we have another problem! He won't be hungry enough to take the canned dog food bait we brought. Sure enough, after Debi and Gracie climbed up to the observation post, Lobo came in to check things out and walked right past the food. He wasn't hungry enough for ordinary canned food. We later learned that as many as 3 different people were trying to feed him over the last week and that he had actually gotten sick from eating too much too fast. Time for MickyD's plain cheeseburgers.
While Debi headed back into Red Bluff (a 1 ½ hour round trip) I kept an eye on Lobo's movements from the ridge above the ranch while he made his rounds. Unbeknownst to us, this attracted attention from a passer by called the local resident Tehama County Deputy Sheriffs Sgt at home to report (for the 2nd time) a suspicious person hiding on the hill with binoculars. The Deputy responded out to check the area and then stopped Debi upon her return and inquired if she knew anything about the "suspicious activity". When Debi explained the situation, he filled her on what had happened to the various parties involved (well known to local law enforcement) and offered to be of service if it was needed. Debi also met up with another local rancher by the name of Cathy Conklin who was one of the locals trying to help. She told Debi that the word around the area was that the son of the property owner (who had recently died, triggering this whole mess) was going to return to the ranch and shoot any animals remaining because they were attracting too much attention to the place, now including the attention of law enforcement. This now added urgency and possible additional danger to the situation. The other piece of bad news that it had started to rain lightly and Lobo was holed up on the other side of the ranch and only moved to find better shelter. When he did move, it was to a spot where it was impossible to come at him from behind to use the catch pole. He didn't come into the ranch at all. After watching him for another 2 hours we again called off the rescue and headed home.
On January 2nd, we made our final attempt. We were running out of time and resources. While on the way home from the last attempt, I called Ron and told him what had happen and asked him to contact local ranchers and have them not feed Lobo after the following Wednesday so that come Saturday, he would be hungry enough to take the bait. Ron arranged with Cathy to hold off on the feeding and to put up a sign. We arrived at the ranch to find that someone had torn down and destroyed both signs (they even took the pieces with them!) and had poured out a bag of pedigree dog food (not a brand that any of the good Samaritans had been feeding) along side the road into the ranch. Lucky for us, wild pigs appeared to have gotten to the food before Lobo because within 10 minutes of Debi placing the bait, he came in and ate every bite! Success at last! Now to wait an hour for the sedative to take effect…
As it turns out, easier said than done. Shortly after eating, he headed out and settled down in a field that we didn't have a clear view of from the OP. So Debi went to watch him from the road while I tracked her from the OP . Then he headed into the brush along side a creek not far from where we had lost him the first day and Debi began to trail him cross country. He would walk for a few minutes then settle down under a tree or bush for a bit. Just as Debi thought she could approach him, he would get up and head down stream some more. After an hour, when the sedative should have started to take effect, I joined her with the catchpole and a muzzle but he was still on the move. He led us on a 2-mile cross county/creek hike through dense brush. Every time we would think that he was done, he would get up and walk off!
Finally in a clearing he began to show interest in Gracie, sniffing her and trying to mount her, but his hind legs kept collapsing. Debi made several attempts to get a slip leash on him but he would pull back. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he lost all interest in Gracie and walked into a hole in some very heavy brush and laid down but kept his head up watching us! The sedative should have taken effect over an hour ago and he is still keeping an eye on us. Lobo then moved out of the rear of the thicket and along the hillside. I thought we had lost him again and crawled/forced my way through the brush after him only to find that he had laid down in the sun about 50 feet away facing away from me. I managed to sneak up on him, extended the pole and when I dropped the loop on him, he bolted into it and was finally caught! He fought the pole for a brief moment, looked at me for a few moments more , rolled over, showed his belly in submission and passed out. He was done.
While I was heading through the brush, Debi had headed back to get more bait and to move the truck closer to where we were (Lobo had led us completely across the ranch). She was not able to get the truck though a locked gate so I carried Lobo ½ mile to the truck while she packed out the gear. We loaded him into a crate in the truck, checked him for any serious injuries (this is when we learned why he wasn't very interested in an in-heat female. He was neutered!) and headed home, very tired but very happy. Lobo was now safe.
We met up with Ron and his wife Cammi in Red Bluff so that they could finally meet him and get a chance to pet him and say good bye . On the way home, Gracie lay close to Lobo to keep him company and we stopped ever 30-45 minutes to check on him. Once we got him home, it was into the rescue kennel with a dog house with warm shavings and a heavy blanket.
3 days, over 100 man hours (including Ron and the others), 1500 miles and $200 in gas, medications and cheeseburgers but Lobo was safe.
Vet visit: 1/8/2010
Dr. Cindy came out to give Lobo the "once over" and he did just great. Altho his ear is VERY infected and VERY sore he allowed Dr. Cindy to dig around and clean it out and medicate it with hardly a whimper. He is VERY under weight ...weighing in a a whooping 66 pounds (a full grown male should weigh closer to 100 pounds). However, there is one very sad note, the blood tests show that he is HEARTWORM POSITIVE and needs treatment. He's too under weight to undergo the treatment but in about a month, when he is healthier he will need to have this addresses. That gives us time to raise the necessary funds to cover the cost of the treatment. If you feel compelled to help this boy and help us get him into his forever home PLEASE go to Great Pyrenees Rescue of Northern CA and hit the DONATE button on the home page! 100% of all proceeds go to dogs in need. Thanks in advance!!
Lobo update 4/2010:
Lobo is doing GREAT. Since we brought him home he's gained 40 pounds. He's now full-time in the pasture with Fawn, Karma and the livestock. His ear infection seems to be doing well, fingers crossed that this latest round of heavy duty antibiotics did the trick.
He's now healthy enough to begin his heartworm treatment. We start that on 4/26. He will need to be "quiet" for 7 days with the first 3 being extremely critical. We'll have to check on him around the clock to make sure that he's not having trouble breathing. After that he will be in his kennel for a month. If all goes well the first month then we'll give him the 2nd round of meds and he'll be "quiet" for another 30 days.
With all the good thoughts and his current strength I have no doubt that he'll make it thru this last challenge just fine. But continued prayers are always appreciated.