Ferguson – Where Are You?

I’ve not been online for awhile.Ferg

I lost my dog.

I don’t know if the coyotes got him or perhaps the homeless that live at the bottom of the hill have him.  They admitted to seeing him, but because their camps are booby trapped and Hep A is rampant in them, not to mention that the one at the bottom of our hill is a known meth lab and heaven knows what else is there that even cops won’t go in there.

I have no way of knowing if they decided to keep him.  Soooo, I’m in a frump, majorly depressed.  My kitty won’t eat and I’m afraid she may be next. She is 17, after all.

It amazes me how something so small can get into your heart and wrench it out. Chloe, our cat,  has always behaved from Day 1 as though Ferguson was an inconvenience, an interloper and a nuisance to her.  She was here first and he was so damn needy.

She knows. She hasn’t been eating and her usual sleep all day life pattern has been disrupted and she walks around looking for him.  She goes in and out of rooms as though she thinks he will materialize from heaven knows where. I’m thinking she misses him too. Even though they generally didn’t get along, when night time came or it was cold, they’d call a truce.f13

It happened on July 2.  I was out in the yard pulling weeds and planting to prepare for our big fourth of July BBQ and Ferguson came out to lift his leg on a plant I’d just relocated. Of course.

I hadn’t realized how the day had gotten away from me, so I said to him, “Oh, I’m sorry buddy, you need your walk!”  I was working on a slope on the other side of our fence. So, I “jumped” over the fence to get his leash in the house, but turned and he was nowhere to be seen.  I figured the little guy had gone back into the house or if he’d gone down the hill, he’d be right back up.  But, he didn’t. Nothing.  Poof!  He disappeared.

I called out but he was nowhere to be found.  He’s gone down the hill before on a number of occasions but he always comes back up within minutes. Little did I realize we would have an earthquake a couple of days later and it’s a known fact, dogs flee before quakes. I waited only a few before I got worried.  I called and called, but nothing.  My husband got home from work, my brother, who was painting the fence stopped and we all went searching.  Within an half hour after my last sighting of him, the whole neighborhood was out en force to search.  Another half hour later, the neighborhood kids had created posters to put up.

Range Rovers, Pick ups and Armada’s were cruising the streets for him. I was shocked at how quickly the neighborhood was mobilized. I told them they didn’t have to but they insisted.  They said, “He’s family, we do have to!” Everyone loves Ferguson.

He was after all their favorite sidewalk sweeper. His tail was good for something.

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Hubby and I had joked in Alabama that everyone in town knew Ferguson’s name but I bet not a one knew ours. Everyone always asks about Ferguson and I’d bet the whole of Etowah County is praying for him.

It is now going on four days.  No Ferguson.

The first day, I went down the hill but heard screaming and profuse foul language.  That prevented me from going further. As I said, the homeless camp below is a known meth lab, and that even the police won’t go down there.  They say it’s booby trapped. It may be.  My neighbor, Val and I went over to the other side of the railroad tracks with binoculars to see if we could see movement.  We see our house clearly.  (see photo) There’s so much brush and he’s such a little guy, did we really believe we’d see anything?  We hope. We post signs along the way.  We talk to everyone, especially other dog walkers. Some we know, some we don’t.  We scan the slope for over a half hour. We later go to the cul de sac where the trail leading to those camps begin and ventured forward a little ways to get a different vantage.  Never going in so far that we couldn’t be seen, of course.  I’m guessing our husband’s would have had a coronary if they knew.  By then, it was getting dark.  We meet some people headed to the camp.  They are well dressed but tell us, they have family there and they bring food and goods to them. We tell them about Ferguson and they promise to convey the message. We are out of flyers so we have nothing to leave them. Val gives them her number. I notice they have a small child with them, so in my mind I’m questioning the danger factor.h3

That night, Hubby and I hear the coyotes howling and growling.  It was a big pack.  I hadn’t heard them like that in months.  I thought with all the homeless around that they had moved on.  The likelihood of Ferguson surviving that was nil.  I finally broke down and bawled, hubby too.  Our hopes are dashed. How can something so little break our hearts like that?

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When I took this picture in slo-mo, I found myself with two Fergs. I’d love to just get one of those back.

Day two,  I spend most of the day on all my Social Media connections,  posting pictures of Ferguson and the details of his disappearance.  I get some feedback on what to do next and how to get the most of my postings.  Friends and those in the know reassure me that as little as he is, he could easily hide and stay safe. I go to post more posters.  I’m thinking, the Sprinter Station which is below us and off to our right a little ways would be a good spot to post something, since I knew the homeless often cross over the tracks at that juncture, but there was no posting permitted.  As I turn away, a young woman saw the poster and shouted, “That’s “Woofy Boy”!  I ask her if she’d seen him (while at the same time thinking, my dog already has a nick name?) and she said, yes. He was at their camp the night before, then turned to the other two men to get their affirmation, they agree but are not as sociable.  I told her I was worried the coyotes might have gotten him and she said, “no,  he was still there in the morning”.

“Is he still there?” I ask

“I don’t know, I haven’t been there all afternoon.”  The guys were getting impatient and walk away.

“I can go check and call you, your number is right here” and she took the flyer with her.

“Call me” I shout.

She tells me to “wait there” and I do.

It was all I could do to stay rooted and wait. I waited and waited, but no call.  Finally, I get a hold of hubby and he says, “What should I do?”

“I don’t know”.  A few minutes later he’s scrambling down the hill.   A few minutes after that, I too am heading up the path, police or no police.

I stop at the first camp which is camouflaged like a military dugout. Invisible to the eye.  I only knew it was there because I heard them talking.  I shouted out.  The guy inside gruffly asks who I was and what I wanted.  I told him.h2

He responded with, “No, I haven’t seen it!”  Sweetly, I tell him I have a flyer.

He says, “Don’t come in (as if I would), I’m coming out”  A few seconds later, he appeared.  He was a big bruiser. He took the flyer and said, “Oh yeah, I did see it, but he’s gone now”  give me the poster and I’ll keep an eye out for him.”

So, I go back on the trail,  and I come across a young man swinging a golf club and all sorts of things are going through my head.  My heart is about to pop out of my chest and I’m wondering what in the hell am I doing?  Shiiiiit, Do I keep going or do I talk to him?

I talk to him, all the while watching that club, then I notice a golf ball. Both, viable weapons. He turns and walks with me and tells me how Ferguson was stationed by his tent but that he wouldn’t let him touch him.  He tells me that he didn’t push it because it was getting dark and he didn’t want him to run off and get eaten by coyotes and that Ferguson was still there in the morning.  I thanked him.

The young man and I keep walking until I finally run into my hubby who is talking to a woman other  than the one I’d seen earlier, who was also friendly and promising she’d keep an eye out.  He also never went into their actual camp. Mind you, none of these people look like your typical homeless, except for the young man with the club, maybe. We pointed out our yard above them and the young man said, “If I catch him, I’ll take him and “throw” him over the fence”.  Hubby says, “you can knock on the door, that’s okay, there’ll be a little reward”.  We thanked them for their kindness and left. There are probably six or eight camps, I could not get close enough to photograph the others.

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Day three is the fourth of July and still no word.  Hubby says, I’m gonna go down and check.  I hand him some dog food and treats.  Some time later, he comes back and says, they were not nearly as friendly today, except the lady.

Day four, I hear screaming and yelling again.  There’s a disturbance below, so we stay away.  The women swear like sailors, but this time I hear men.  Something is going down and we want no part of it.   We go to the animal shelter hoping maybe someone has turned him in.  We give them all the info and at first they frown wondering why we delayed coming to them.  I told them the above story and they understood.  They admitted they’d seen all our online postings anyway.  We explained how we had hoped “they” would have gotten hold of him and brought him to us.  The Humane Society told us they are inclined to believe the homeless will keep him as they generally do.  They tell us it happens all the time.

I start getting texts and emails from people wanting us to get a police escort and search warrants to go in there.  Hubby and I are not crazy about that idea. For one, we already know their reputation and they now know where we live.  If they are as rough as they sound or are reputed to be, there could be ramifications for anything we do aggressively.  My brother in law, in a puffed up display of ignorance says,  “you can’t let them bully you like that, holding you hostage in your own home” and going on about showing force etc.  etc.  Of course, he doesn’t live here and I wish it were that easy.  I will however talk to the police and ask them what they think is the best course of action.

Day five, I don’t know what else to do.  Folks, I live in Oceanside, California.  If anyone knows anyone out this way, let them know our situation and hopefully, we can get Ferguson back.

A part of me is angry Ferguson took off.  I mean, how could he do that to us or to himself?  He had it good here. Is he hungry, cold? Have they tied him up? He would absolutely hate that. He always slept between Hubby and I and when I crawled into bed last night I instinctively reached out to ruffle his ears and stroke his little frame. What were you thinking little buddy?  Was it because we’ve had company? Did you feel neglected with all of us busily working? Was it the earthquake? WHY?!

His Backstory:

This was our first look at this little guy.  He was sitting like this on our stoop for two days on a hot, summer day in Alabama.

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I put water and cat food in a dish and kept telling him to “go home”.

Isn’t he just the cutest?  We learned later that he’d been wandering and scavenging around town for months after a big tornado hit.  If you check the date on the photo, it’s been almost exactly 8 years we’ve been calling him our own and now he’s gone. He’s gotten gray around the face and shoulders since then.  My hubby loved it when he’d drape his head over his arm while snuggling in. See the gray?Ferg 5

Initially, he wouldn’t let us touch him, so my sister and I sat in our driveway and talked to him until he let us near enough to get him but he just rolled over and let me pick him up.  My sister is an animal whisperer so I begged her to let me have first contact because I was in love.  Even so, we did our due diligence and searched for his owners with ads in the paper for two months. We put up posters everywhere and hit the vets and shelters, trying our best to find them. His teeth were nearly rotted out, he was wormy, flea ridden and dirty.  We checked for a chip and got him his shots and dental cleaning.

When I’d get home from work or anything where I was gone no more than two hours, he’d do a crazy “happy dance” and run all over the house with his butt looking like it was going to get ahead of the rest of his body.  When he peed, he did so with his back legs up doing a handstand and the first time he found four objects he wanted to christen, he did so without ever hitting all fours, turning on his front legs only, in one full swoop. The first time he did that, I laughed so hard I thought I’d pee my pants.

How can I be soooo sad?

Because that little scamp is and can be a a little dickens, like a child, he burrowed his way into our hearts and it hurts.

Ferguson was the first dog my hubby ever had and he didn’t think he’d like him, but he bawled harder than I did at first. Even now, the tears fight their way to the surface unbidden. Who couldn’t have resisted that face?

 At his first vet visit, the vet guessed he may have been around two years old then, which I doubted because of the condition of his teeth (I’d been a human dental assistant and that didn’t make sense to me) but then he was also malnourished when we found him. He pranced like a show dog and heeled like a well trained dog. That’s another reason for believing that someone ought to be missing him.  At the time we didn’t know about the tornado websites, but a friend did and she helped check those out. Nothing.  In fact my friend was even more determined to find his owners while I’m secretly hoping she doesn’t. Yeah, he wormed his way in real good.

These are some of our memories:

This was the picture we used on the posters and ads to find his owners. It was this picture that someone saw and told us he wan’t a long hair Chihuahua, but a Papillon. The vet thought he might have Chihuahua in him but a breeder said, no.  He’s all clean here. Initially, he had a limp, but with good nourishment that went away.

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Here he is taking a breather under our car or by a tree on our hike in Colorado.  This little guy had more stamina on a long hike than my grand kids. When he got tired or cold, I’d put him in my shirt or backpack. He loved going on walks.

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Sign? What sign?

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Okay. I’m done.

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He loved our tranquil walks at Noccalula Falls in Alabama and hikes in the Sawatch Mountains of Utah and Park City.

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He loved taking over our bed, even in this cushy hotel room with lots of pillows.  You’d a thought he’d paid for it. lol

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Daddy’s tummy is just right and this hammock at grandma’s is pretty cool too.

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A special day on the beach with mommy.

Day 6 – I spend all day putting up flyers, talking to people and visiting the police department and talking to Sheriff and Code Enforcement.

The police department photocopied flyers to hand out to those officers that work that area.  They definitely do not recommend we go down there because of diseases and such, plus most of them are on drugs, tend to be erratic and other hazards related to that. They recommend I call Code Enforcement. I call Code Enforcement to get an address but end up leaving a message.

I talk to people at the Sprinter (rail station), who I know will ride by the area in question and they are awesome and say they will keep a lookout.

I go to another station and see the Sheriff congregating, so I talk to them and they take photos of my flyer and say they will gladly keep an eye out.

I leave flyers at businesses nearby and they hang them up.  They are agreeable.

Code enforcement calls back and tells me they can’t hand out flyers.  I tell the lady that’s not what I’m asking and she sounds like it would be a major inconvenience to accommodate me.  PLUS… she tells me that I could get fined for putting up all those flyers and… get this, a lady who put up flyers for her missing child was fined and not allowed to do so!!!  Welcome to California.  I talk to her a few more minutes and before I hang up she says she looks forward to seeing me.  Wow!  Maybe, I’ll be the one in jail.

Well folks, all I can say, is it’s in God’s hands now.  Ferguson wherever you are, we love you and miss you.  We hope you are safe.f1

 

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