Twin the dog is back at the Kingston Humane Society after 17 days in the wild between Kingston and Amherstview.
“He looks surprisingly good,” Gord Hunter, executive director of the humane society, said as the two-year-old retriever mix was being examined by veterinary technicians on Thursday. “He’s skinny, he has lost weight for sure, you can see his ribs, but looks otherwise unmarked. He’s not covered in ticks, and for a white dog, still fairly white.
“You would expect him to be filthy after being out for 17 days, but he looks pretty good.”
On Nov. 13, Twin was at his foster home in Amherstview when he unexpectedly forced his way out an opening door and ran. The dog’s actions were not a surprise to Hunter, who explained that Twin and four other dogs were rescued as a result of a Provincial Animal Welfare investigation elsewhere in the province.
“All those dogs were terribly undersocialized, very neglected, probably abused, so they are flight risks, each and every one of them,” Hunter said. “In this case, it was a momentary dash, push out the door and gone.”
Hunter said they continue to trust the foster home implicitly. Ironically, of the five dogs that were rescued, the humane society placed GPS trackers on four of them because of their history. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a fifth for Twin.
The search for Twin was led by Rhonda Guthrie-Taft of Quinte West Lost Paws, who referred to him as Toby. The organization started with social media posts and posters placed in the area of the foster home. They then started to get tips from the public after Twin had been spotted. Hunter said the dog spent much of its time between Amherstview and Kingston in the wooded area just west of Lawrence Park.
The area is very popular for dog walkers, who would provide sightings to Quinte West Lost Paws volunteers. The volunteers would then set up trail cameras and a live trap with food in it. With the sightings and the cameras, the volunteers were able to triangulate Twin’s location.
A news release from the humane society explained that generally once triangulated, the dog is captured with some time and patience. Apparently, this did not work with Twin.
“He would show up and then he would disappear. Show up, then disappear again,” Guthrie-Taft recalled. “In my experience, once you locate a lost dog, you can pretty much set your watch by the way they approach free food, but Twin didn’t do that. It’s probably one of the most difficult cases my team has ever encountered.”
The live trap used in these situations is activated by a camera, but Twin was smarter, Hunter explained.
“He’d gone into the trap very carefully a couple of times but not set it off,” Hunter said. “They had video of him in the trap but not setting it off.
“When (dogs) are in flight mode, oftentimes food isn’t the draw you would expect it to be.”
Hunter monitored the search with updates from Guthrie-Taft but also continued to see posts on social media. Some sightings indicated he’d been hit by a vehicle or seen bleeding, which led to increased concerns. Luckily, Twin seemed well Thursday morning, but Hunter noted it is important for the general public not to approach a dog on the run because it can hinder rescue efforts. This is why they didn’t widely announce that Twin was missing.
Despite good intentions, this happened a number of times in the search for Twin.
“They would approach him if they saw him and then, of course, that would send him scurrying,” Hunter said. “What we say when a dog is in flight mode is, ‘Report it, but do not approach.’ Because it will scare the dog and they’ll go find a hiding spot.
“If (the dog is) just starting to become comfortable approaching a trap and somebody tries to grab them or tries to approach them and thinks they can catch them, it is highly unlikely, almost impossible, to catch a dog that is in flight mode like that.”
A post on Quinte West Lost Paws’ Facebook page explained: “These are things that keep lost dogs lost longer.”
The post said Twin moved around quite a bit in the west end area. At one point he was spotted watching another dog in its back yard. While the other dog went “crazy” at the sight of Twin, the post said he just stood back and didn’t engage. There were times when the volunteers didn’t get a sighting report for more than 36 hours.
Finally, Thursday morning at about 3 a.m., Twin’s stomach seemingly got the better of him. This time he set off the trap set up on the property of Edith Rankin Memorial United Church in Collins Bay — not surprising as it was later revealed Twin had lost roughly 12 pounds over the 17 days.
After two hours of coxing, volunteers were able to remove Twin out of the trap and to bring him to his foster home. He has since being taken to the Kingston Humane Society, where he is undergoing a series of tests to ensure his health. Once cleared, he’ll return to the foster home for more socialization and will soon be available for adoption, the news release said.
Quinte West Lost Paws thanked the church for allowing it to set up its base of operations in the church building, and the KHS news release encouraged members of the public to show their appreciation to Quinte West Lost Paws, which operations solely on donations. The public can contact it at [email protected].
“I can’t thank Rhonda and her team enough. They are some of the most dedicated and educated volunteers we’ve ever worked with,” Hunter said. “Without their help, I’m not convinced this story would have had such a happy ending. Instead, we’re all crying happy tears for Twin’s return.”