BRATTLEBORO—After nine days of fending for himself in snow and freezing temperatures, Rudy is safe, sound, and warm.
The 12-pound terrier/dachshund mix, who jumped out of a transport vehicle on Jan. 15, finally came in from the cold on Jan. 23 after two volunteers set a trap at a feeding station.
“I think he rescued me,” said volunteer Scott Whitehill, who was able to bring Rudy in. “I think he decided I’d been tortured enough and said, ‘I can’t do this to the guy,’ and decided to get in the trap.”
“He’s safe and sound and has been transported to Good Karma Rescue,” said volunteer Wendy LaValley the next day.
She had been out in the car six to 10 hours a day since last Sunday and put up 100 posters in the week since the little guy jumped ship.
Whitehill bought a new trail camera, the type of camera hunters use to determine where animals are feeding, to help find Rudy. He and LaValley set up several feeding stations throughout the week.
When they received Rudy sightings, the stations were moved. They finally found a location he seemed to return to repeatedly, so they set out food and the camera to confirm his return.
On Jan. 23, they also set a trap with the help of Good Karma Rescue, the entity that had been transporting Rudy from San Antonio, Texas, as well as Granite State Dog Recovery, a nonprofit in Hooksett, N.H. that serves New Hampshire and Vermont.
“We could see he was coming near the trap, so we removed all the food outside the trap and put it inside,” LaValley said. “He still would come close, but not in and then, all of a sudden, he went in to get the food.”
“The camera sent a photograph to Scott’s phone, and we went and got him,” she continued. “I wrapped him in a blanket.”
Both Whitehill and LaValley say Rudy is “the sweetest dog you’d ever want to meet.”
“I haven’t heard him make a single sound,” LaValley said.
‘We couldn’t sleep since this happened’
Whitehall, although not a professional rescuer, has rescued other dogs and goes about the work in a calm and considered manner.
“We couldn’t sleep since this happened,” he said. “I worked on a plan to find out what his attraction to various trails were, and his prints in the snow helped identify where he had been traveling.”
“I also bought new trail cameras to get this all documented,” he noted. “Without them, we couldn’t have done this.”
Rudy was finally rescued about a mile from where he jumped from the vehicle.
He may well have been rescued sooner if not for well-meaning folks who frightened him farther afield every time he came to a spot to feed or rest.
“A lot of people were posting locations of where the dog was spotted rather than following directions and calling the rescuers with the location,” said Whitehill, noting no reward was offered in part so that folks wouldn’t chase after him, putting him in more fear and danger. “Otherwise, people would go there and try to get him.”
“There was all kinds of interpersonal static and people were doing exactly what we asked them not to do,” LaValley said.
She noted that Rudy was chased by three boys, that people called his name when asked not to, and that folks reported his location on social media rather than calling the rescuers in private.
Born to run
In the morning, after Rudy had eaten all the food he was given, the Windham County Humane Society sent someone, and another professional dog walker also went to Whitehill’s home. The volunteers gingerly coaxed the dog out of the cage, put a harness on him, and took him for a walk.
“He was prancing, he was so happy,” LaValley said.
“It was fairly quickly he came out of the cage,” said Whitehill. “He likes females and interacted with them and my partner. Apparently, he’s not enamored of men, but he didn’t growl or bark.”
“He was as sweet as can be,” he said.
The handlers brought Rudy back to the house and into a crate that had been prepared for him to be transported back to Good Karma’s hands.
But Whitehill hopes that Rudy — “a runner” — will end up in a home with security.
“If you have a door that leads directly to the outside instead of a breezeway, that could spell an issue, so I’m hoping they’ll take that into consideration for adoption,” he observed.