I just received this heart-wrenching email from Greg… how I wish I lived closer so I could brave the elements and help them look....
Many thanks to all of you who made phone calls, searched, put out food, let us set up Havahart traps, and forwarded emails to residents in the area. Once again, if you have time please forward this update to Tolland, Coventry, and Vernon residents.
Bunny was not seen at all yesterday, and Lucienne and I covered the entire area where there were Bunny sightings and tracks over the last week, and there were no fresh tracks anywhere. While we still hold out hope that she found shelter (there are many barns and sheds in the area), we are not confident that she was able to survive the storm, extreme cold, and high winds. The reality is that it's likely she didn't make it because of the cold.
We distributed about 1,000 flyers to homes and businesses and talked with about 100 residents and business owners. Unless there is another sighting or more tracks in the snow, we'll continue with a scaled-down search and keep in touch with all of you by email until this weekend.
Here is the latest update… a little more hopeful!
I just got back from a property that I visited at 2:00pm. The woman who owns the property called and told me she had new tracks in her back yard, and they were probably just a few hours old. Bunny has been to this house several times (it's located high on a hill overlooking a quarry on Mtn Spring Rd, mentioned in earlier correspondence), and the new tracks could be hers. I have tracked numerous foxes, and as a rule they have been avoiding houses (but not outbuildings), but they are so similar to Bunny's tracks it is very hard to tell the difference. So, maybe Bunny, maybe a fox. Also, maybe NOT coincidentally, the woman who owns the home has a Basenji mix (which dog also has no propensity to come when called).
We'll set a trap with nice smelly food tonight and hope for the best.
Thank you everyone for your thoughts, prayers, emails, phone calls, and help during Bunny's time in the wild. To recap, Bunny left home at about 5:25 pm on 12/22/10, to find her center of the universe, my wife Lucienne, who was preparing meals at a local soup kitchen. From 5:25 to 5:50 pm, Bunny returned home several times to see if Lucienne was there. Not seeing or smelling her, she immediately left the yard to continue her search. My daughter, Zoey and I, left the doors to the house open from the time she left until well after Lucienne returned about 6:10 pm, but Bunny did not come back after Lucienne came home.
At a few minutes before 6:00 pm on 12/22, a moderate snowfall began. So we looked for tracks beginning about 8:00 pm, because at that time there was enough accumulation to see tracks. No Bunny tracks were found, but a set of fox tracks were. I followed those tracks for around an hour until those tracks looked like they were made seconds earlier. They disappeared into a storm sewer and reappeared on the opposite side of the street, which was enough to let me know we were not on Bunny's trail after all.
Bunny was in the wild from 5:25 pm 12/22/10 until about 1:40 pm on 12/30/10, for a total of about 7 days, 20 hours, and 15 minutes. At 1:41 pm I took a call from a woman named Connie who had helped us search for Bunny for days. During this time, Connie was quite ill with the flu. Nevertheless, she likely spent more time and energy helping us than any other individual. As I mentioned in an email, Connie owns a Basenji mix (whose name is Ahu, and who came to the U.S. via Pakistan) that she rescued through Our Companions (http://ourcompanions.org/) . A kindred spirit, Connie is!
As you can see from an earlier post, we set a large Havahart-type trap (about 18" x 24" x 72"). Inside that trap was dry dogfood, cat food, bacon, chicken broth, and dog treats. Outside of the trap were 2 bacon fat trails; we wanted Bunny to scent the trail, but we did not want her to have a chance to eat anything until she was in the trap. At a different location 5 days earlier, we placed a carrot (Bunny's favorite treat; probably the reason for her name, though we're not sure. Her birth name is Attullah RU Ready to Party.) outside of the trap. According to the homeowners (Doris and Donna), who happened to be looking outside their darkened window when Bunny arrived, she snatched the carrot outside the trap and immediately ran to the woods. So, lesson learned, food inside the trap only.
Lucienne, Zoey and I, as may imagine, immediately sped to Connie's home after she called to tell us "Your dog is int the trap". When we arrived, Lucienne raced to the trap ahead of Zoey and I. When she arrived at the trap (about 15 seconds before Zoey and I) she started sobbing tears of joy. Zoey arrived a few seconds ahead of me and the sobbing became a chorus. Having a little more dignity than my wife and daughter, I cried quietly (okay, that's a fib). So, there we are, all crying tears of absolute joy and amazement (remember, the little crapper had us worried sick and riding a roller coaster ride from hell for nearly 8 full days!) …
and we look up at Connie's picture window in her dining room only to see another human crying tears of joy for a sweet, little, innocent (maybe not) Basenji. What a moment.
We loaded dog-and-crate into our car, Lucienne in the cargo area with the crate and Zoey in the rear seat with hands on the crate, and began the ride home into the next chapter. When we were safely in our pet room (yes, our mudroom has been outfitted for the sleeping comfort of one cat and one Bunny) with all doors closed and triple-locked, we let Bunny out of the trap. She immediately fell into Lucienne's arms. We gave Bunny some warm water (she just ate a huge meal inside the trap) and a warm bath, and then took her to the vet. She was pronounced healthy; no frostbite, clear lungs, no apparent infections. She had a several-inch-long gash on her left front leg, a deep laceration in the center of her forehead, and tenderness in her left ribcage. So, the reports (2 phone calls to the police and a personal interview of one of the parties making the call) that Bunny was hit by a car were apparently accurate. What a tough pooch!
That evening, Lucienne informed me that I had two choices, either I could …
sleep with her and Bunny, or I could sleep alone. She told me that even though Bunny was crate-trained and slept in the petroom with one of our cats without too much complaint (we usually listened to a few "wherrrrrrrre arrrrrrrrrrre yooooooooooou" roos, then she settled in for the night), she just couldn't be apart from her for a minute that first night. Lucienne assured me Bunny would return to her normal routine the next day. Well, 4 days later, we are still sleeping 3 to a bed!
Bunny's first 24 hours were what we expected. She did not want to be out of Lucienne's sight, she was utterly exhausted and therefore not her perky self, and she was famished. What we were unsure about was how her personality would change as a result of what we affectionately call "Bunny's Most Excellent Adventure". Surprisingly, she is significantly less skittish post-trauma than she was pre-trauma. Lucienne is still her center of the universe, but if I'm in my office out of her sight (we work from our home), Bunny comes and checks on me periodically, throughout the day. If I leave the room, she follows me just to make sure I'm not leaving the house; once she knows where I am, she rejoins the alpha female (Lucienne) until she feels the need to check on the whereabouts of the rest of the herd. She'll come for back scratches and pets, but she invariably goes to find Lucienne before long.
Bunny is also a little (not much) less anxious when Lucienne leaves the house. It takes her a little less time to settle down, and she's less frantic in the moments after Lucienne leaves. Also, she is significantly less interested in escaping or spending any amount of time outside. We've had a few bathroom accidents, and we notice that when she goes out she takes care of business quickly so she can go back in. Maybe, just maybe, she'll be a little easier to keep home. On a different note, I wanted to pass on some of what we learned from Bunny's Most Excellent Adventure ….