By Karen Wheet
Our vacation began with high hopes. A wonderful week lay ahead of us with our two
youngest children and our two shitzus. We had found a wonderful home in Eastham that would allow dogs. On July 4th,
at dusk on our second night in Eastham, our family was out playing soccer in the side yard. My youngest Shitzu, Callee, was
climbing my leg looking for comfort, as there were fireworks going off in the not too distant area. I picked her up, put her
down and did this about 2 or 3 times. This was the last I saw of her for 9 days.
How could this happen, one would wonder. Did coyotes come
and take her without us even hearing anything? She would never leave my side – I knew that for sure. Or I thought she
wouldn’t. We searched that evening, but I quickly realized she wouldn’t be found – if she was around, she
certainly would come to our calls.
the next 3 days putting up posters along the bike paths and asking everyone we passed if they saw her. My husband and I took
our bikes along many side roads nearby, while our kids and extended family went from house to house in the neighborhood. I
have never felt such a loss before. My 13 pound little “girl” was, for all I knew, fighting to find her way home
(2 hours away) or possibly lost to us forever. It was too hard to bear. I would go to sleep early, being exhausted from the
deep sadness that had overcome me. I would wake up at 4:00 a.m. and start the search all over. In my quest
for help, I reached out to friends and family by email to help support us with good “thoughts and prayers”. I
got online and posted her picture on www.lostadog.com. I researched the web for help. A suggestion was to put
her bedding outside where she was last seen. Every evening, at dusk, I would watch her bedding from my bedroom, but no sign
of Callee…..What else could I do? My other dog, Spencer, stopped eating.
On Wednesday, of that week, I found I had a voicemail from the night before. Someone
had seen Callee across Route 6. But when they tried to catch her she ran away. We spent that day searching
the other side of Route 6, along the ocean. The people were so kind to let us search their properties. I was even told she
was seen by some homeowners, but she was always on the run and the homeowners didn’t put 2 and 2 together.
How frustrating, she’s been seen but we can’t find her. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.
We called her all day, sure that if she heard us, she would come. She must be starved and scared! That day, while searching,
I received a call from the Dog Owner’s Association. They had heard of our plight and wanted to help. Thank goodness!
The Dog Owner’s Association spread the word to their many members via email. I
knocked on a B&B door, and was told they already knew of our plight. It seemed the Dog Owner’s Association had reached
many others for us. I continued searching, but to no avail. We sadly left the Cape Friday evening.
On Saturday, 7 nights from the time Callee went missing,
I received a call from someone who saw her on Tomahawk Road – about 2 miles from where we were originally staying. I
called Cindy, the President of the Association and the Eastham police. Both parties went searching for me, but with no luck.
My mom and I decided to drive back down on Sunday to search for her. We brought Spencer with us, hoping the sight of him might
help to bring her to us. While at Tomahawk Road, we received a call that she was just spotted 5 minutes away on Nausset Road.
We were getting her back and it was only 9:00 a.m. on Sunday! However, when we got there, she was nowhere in sight. We walked
through the woods all day without any luck. So many people called and actually many came by to walk the woods as well. Incredible,
it was a Sunday – most people’s only day off and they were helping us! My fondest memory is of a man on a bike
with a child behind him. He was holding a piece of paper and looking at Spencer suspiciously. I told him he wasn’t the
missing dog, but her “big brother”. The little girl riding behind him said, “Daddy, daddy
– is that Callee?” Incredible, everyone knew about Callee and all were helping to search. Heartbroken,
once again, I drove home, empty handed.
That evening I received an email from Cindy offering a room in her home so I could come back down to search for her.
Callee’s time was running out. On Monday, I drove back down and parked in Cindy’s driveway
and starting walking the neighborhood once again. About 2 hours later, I received a call from the Police. Callee’s been
spotted back on Tomahawk Drive! I’m coming, I’m running, I’m driving as fast as I can, I drive all the way
to CoastGuard Beach when I realize I’ve driven right past the road! I yell at the young boy manning the Entrance to
the beach and turn around again. Sorry, young man! When I finally get to Tomahawk, two ladies were there. They had just seen
Callee and had followed her into the woods but couldn’t keep up with her any further. They stayed back at the house
where she had run behind and then Callee appeared again, only to run away once she saw humans. We decided it was best for
me to stay at the house and wait to see if she would come back. I set up “camp” with my beach chair and blanket
and yes, my computer (I had to get some work done!!!). I actually got the internet and booked a catering job while talking
quietly – hoping Callee would come up to me. In the meantime, I left my car door open, just in case
she might smell “home”.
called and said she would bring a hotdog over to hopefully lure her out of the woods. Around 1:00 p.m.
I heard a car door close out at the street. And then I heard, “Did you bring your other dog?”. I
came around the corner of the house and said “No, why?”. Cindy replied, “there’s
a dog in your car!”. I ran down the driveway screaming, “close the door, close the door!”. And
as I got there, there was Callee, wagging her tail furiously in my front seat. I gave her hugs while she wiggled away.
Both Cindy and I were in tears. And Callee ate the most scrumptious hot dog of her life.
Callee was missing for 9 days and travelled at least a
distance of 2 miles. She wouldn’t come to us, even if we were right by her. I have since learned
that skittish dogs will stay away from any human contact, even their owners. I have also learned something called HAB –
Human Animal Bond. Some people have a very strong bond with animals and will go to any length to find them. I am proud to
have that characteristic and hope that my children will learn from our experience, that if you don’t give up and with
luck on your side – you will succeed.
our reunion with Callee, we have caught her eating worms in our back yard (could that have helped her survive)? She lost 2
pounds and has a tick borne infection called Anaplasmosis. However, we are able to treat it with medicine and she is gaining
her weight back. She is basically back to normal, however I now know to keep her on a leash at all times when we are away
from home. I might feel she’s safe, but animals have an inner instinct to flee when frightened – we can’t
forget that they’re animals.
have received many phone calls and cards from the wonderful people of Eastham. I am truly amazed by the kindness that the
community has shown to an outsider. We have even gone back to Cindy’s home for a cookout (Callee stayed home in Mendon).
While some could say our vacation was a total loss, I believe we had an experience that will last a lifetime and we have come
away from it knowing there are kind people out there who will help complete strangers. Thank you Eastham.