September 4th, a volunteer who lives in Brooklyn, texted me, “there’s a stray dog in Prospect Park.” I immediately replied "go trap him" to which he responded “HELL NO”. Let me preface this by saying, the last lost dog he assisted me with in Brooklyn was a nightmare of sorts…I stayed all night in my truck in an extremely dangerous area battling gangs of raccoons, trudging through the park and the woods in the pitch black, people going to the bathroom in front of our cameras, stolen equipment, the list goes on. He said I don’t know how you do this but I’m never doing this again. Fast forward a few months and here we are right back in Prospect Park working another lost dog together.
No matter how hard the last case may have been you can bitch and moan but you put your boots back on and you get your ass back out there BECAUSE THEY MATTER!!
Cameras and feeding stations were set up in various locations through the park. The dog found one of the feeding stations and we got him returning for a few nights. A trap was brought deep in to the bowels of the park and hiked over a chain link fence. We got the dog coming on a schedule and like clockwork he would come down within minutes of the trap being baited, he was watching, like so many lost dogs do and knew all that was going on in his surroundings.
The trap had to be tied open every night because the raccoons would descend upon it as soon as darkness fell and we couldn’t risk him seeing it set off. Although interested in the trap and wanting the food, he was not going in and this was not a place where an enclosure could be set up. We needed a new strategy…
We decided the best approach would be for our volunteer, being local, to try to gain his trust. We named him Lucas and for over a week every day he would bring chicken, bacon, all sorts of goodies and go sit in the woods by the trap. Slowly but surely he was gaining his trust, Lucas would appear out of nowhere within a short time of our volunteer arriving. He would lay near and started eating from his hand. We thought because he was coming so close that we could possibly slip lead him or use a snappy snare, but the sight of either, even just placed on the ground caused him to retreat. We later found out that someone had tried to catch him weeks prior with a catch pole and Lucas being such a smart boy knew what was up. So we went back to gaining his trust on his terms.
Unfortunately, the park rangers got word and went in after him with catch poles which spooked him off. We had to start all over again, it was days before he came back to that area and when he did, that trust was gone and had to be re-established. We discovered that he was coming down a hill from a homeless encampment and we began to think that maybe it was one of their dogs.
Flyers were finally posted in the park today with a Home Again number. Turns out this wasn’t a stray, this was a lost dog named Pharoah Ewing. I found the owner Artensia on Facebook and found a post with her number and called her. She said she was in the park already for three hours calling and yelling for him. I explained to her survival mode and how calling and yelling would frighten him. I connected her with our volunteer and the plan was for him to go place food at the usual spot and go sit and when Pharoah showed the owners would come calmly and quietly to the fence line. They were instructed to softly say his name. As soon as Artensia began saying “Fowie” his body language shifted a bit and he started to walk towards her but then got nervous and walked away. They remained calm and did not pursue him. He walked back over and realized it was his MOM!!! Pharoah got all excited and jumped up on her and Artensia was able to get a collar and leash on him.
Pharaoh “Fowie” got lost during the storm on August 22nd. Today was four weeks that he was on the run. We were so thrilled to be able to facilitate this happy reunion for Pharoah and his family.
Welcome HOME Pharoah!!