Friday, December 4, 2009

Raven is still lost -- $1,500 reward for her safe return



Well, with a heavy heart, I have to report that there is basically no news. Raven was spotted last on November 2nd near the Lexington Elementary School in Los Gatos.



It has been over a month now and we have not had any sightings or verifiable information about her. She may have traveled a long distance by now, or she may be in the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz/San Jose area still.

We have been in contact with an animal communicator, who reports that Raven is with a family that picked her up and drove her some distance to their home. This could mean that she is some distance away, but then again there is just no way to know if this is true. Mark and I both hope it is true, in a way, because this would be better than her being out there on her own still, possibly injured, hungry and/or cold.

We miss our dog terribly. She is a real member of the family. We still hope that somehow we will be able to get her back. She is chipped and, at the time of her loss, was wearing a pink collar with tags bearing both of our cell phone numbers. We would greatly appreciate anything that you could do to help us find her, and we would like nothing more than to pay someone the reward money and be reunited with our sweet baby dog.

Monica and Mark

Monday, November 23, 2009

Update on search activities

Hello everyone, this is Monica with a long-overdue update. We are not giving up and continue to do whatever we can in our search for Raven. Raven has not been seen since November 2nd, when she was spotted near the Lexington Reservoir and Lexington Elementary School in Los Gatos. This has been the longest time without a sighting since Raven was lost nearly two months ago. We are sad and worried -- it will not the best of Thanksgiving holidays for us with our baby dog still lost. . . .

Given that Raven was last seen in the area of Los Gatos that is closest to the Santa Cruz mountains, it is very possible that she has gone into the more woodsy, less-populated area and that would explain why no one has seen her. We maintained a feeding station near the Lexington Elementary School for many days, but unfortunately Raven never returned there. We had a remote, motion-detector camera to take photos of any activity, but it was only some neighborhood cats eating the food that we left out.

Given that there are many less residents in the Santa Cruz mountains, we have gotten creative in our efforts to get out the word about Raven. We are thankful that Raven's flyer and info were posted on the Mountain News Network website (www.mnn.net). We are also getting Raven included in the email newsletters to parents sent out by Loma Prieta School, CT English School and Lexington Elementary.

The folks at Summit Market were kind enough to post Raven's flyer prominently at their store. Our friend Maryann (the "poster queen"), continues to help with flyers and large posters in the area. Mark and Elaine searched one weekend day, while Monica and baby Sofia drove over the mountains and went to the Santa Cruz shelter to put in a lost dog report with them personally. Our friend Cari continues to be a big help with local contacts and suggestions, and well as new people that have contacted us as as result of our craigslist postings, such as Luann.

We had a false alarm last week when we received a call from a very nice man who thought that he might have seen Raven near Soda Springs Road. To make a long story short, we learned through the grapevine that a family who lives right nearby happens to have a male black poodle who looks a lot like Raven. His name is Shadow, and he is a bit of an escape artist. We were able to contact these folks, and they were kind enough to take the time to get photos of their dogs to us. When we emailed the photos to our caller, he confirmed that it probably was Shadow that he had seen, and not Raven. So, while this was not an updated location for us, at least it is good that people are aware of Raven and trying to help out.

On another front, Elaine has contacted an animal communicator again in an attempt to contact Raven. The communicator told us that she saw Raven being taken somewhere in a truck and being allowed to eat and rest in someone's home. To be honest, Mark and I are not really sure what to make of this. We remain somewhat cynical, but on the other hand, we hope that Raven is OK. Of course we want to find her and bring her back home with us. However, until that happens, being cared for by someone else would be the next best thing. At least she is not cold, hungry and possibly injured and vulnerable on her own. . . .

So, we would like to believe that the animal communicator is correct, but nevertheless will keep searching and trying to get the word out about Raven. In the upcoming week, we will revisit our efforts to contact veterinary offices and dog groomers. If Raven has been found by anyone, they might take her in to a vet or groomer for care. There is no way to know if she is still wearing her pink collar -- but if she is, then she would presumably still have the tags with both of our current cell phone numbers and her Alameda dog license. It would be super quick and easy for someone to contact us if they found the collar. Even if she does not have it anymore, she is micro-chipped too, so there is always the chance that the chip would be scanned and she could get back to us in that way.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Please give your dogs a big hug and tell them how thankful you are to have such loyal, devoted members of your family.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The possibility of Lake Elsman

Yesterday, while Mary Ann stopped by Elaine's house to pick up posters and supplies we talked about where Raven might be now. Mary Ann's theory was that she may have gone further south down towards Lake Elsman which is the first reservoir on Los Gatos creek, Lexington being the second. This made some sense to us, as Raven has to our knowledge not really left the creek system for very long and has generally made her way south in the six weeks she has been missing. We have no sightings for two weeks now, the last being over at the Lexington Elementary school, and while it is still perfectly possible that our girl is in the basin there or nearby, it is also possible she has migrated again. and if she was to migrate, south seems like the most likely possibility given that it is consistent with what she has done in the past. So we set out to look for Lake Elsman.

Basically we learned this - you can't get to Lake Elsman. The whole thing is on San Jose Water Company land and the only entrance is gated. We put posters on the gate hoping to alert the Water Company employees that Raven may be in the area.

We also learned that there are roads that you can take from Lexington Reservoir over to the Lake Elsman area if you are a dog. If you are a person you take Aldercroft Heights south from the southern base of Lexington Reservoir and it gets narrower and narrower and ultimately dead ends along the creek a few miles south. At the dead end is San Jose Water Company land and there is a gate and a dirt road that continues south behind the gate. So we cannot go there, but a dog certainly could. We figure the dirt road opens up again at the base of Wright Station road (off Morill, off Summit Rd) and then more or less dumps you back into Water Company land again. So it would not necessarily be bushwacking for Raven to go further south. Food might be a problem, but if she is hunting, maybe not.

If she has gone south via this route, there's hardly anyone there at all so there would be even fewer people available to see her and let us know. Nothing we can do about that if that is the case, except try to reach those few people who frequent that direction.

On Monday I will call the Water Company and try to alert them to the fact that my dog may be on their land. It would be good for their field crews to be aware of the possibility anyway.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back to searching again

Hello all,
Still no news, but we are hard at work. It is a Saturday afternoon, and we have three things going simultaneously. We are thinking that we cannot pinpoint Raven's location as it has been a while between sightings. There is a possibility that she has gone further South into the mountains or even into the Santa Cruz area.

To that end, Mark and Elaine are spending today driving around the area and putting up more lost dog flyers in a broader territory. They will also check the feeding station again, in the hopes that Raven may have gone back to the Lexington School area again....

In the meantime, as soon as our little girl Sofia wakes up from her nap, she and I are going to do yet another shelter run. In addition to the San Jose shelters, we are also going to the animal shelter in Santa Cruz this time. We have called them in the past to let them know about Raven, but I do not think that we have actually gone there in person yet to make a lost dog report and give them the flyer with photos.

Our new friend Maryann has been helping a lot with flyers and awareness in the Los Gatos/Lexington Reservoir area as well. She just stopped by today to get more flyers and materials to make the large posters. Posting flyers is really a constant task, and frustrating because they get taken down (or sometimes rained on) pretty quickly....

We continue to maintain our craigslist ad and have raised the reward amount to $1,500. We always get responses to the craigslist post, but usually it is just well-meaning advice or expressions of support. Not everyone is nice-- last week someone responded that Raven looks like a dirty mop-- I really do not understand folks like that. However, it is also very clear that there are overwhelmingly more people who are kind and helpful compared to the very few who are just mean.

Anyway, as always, we are marching forward and continuing the search for our lost Raven!!

Written by Monica

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Animal Communicator and Request for Consistency of Messages Sent To Raven

While making a dog-related purchase via phone the other day, Elaine learned that Raven's fame has spread to the east coast - the merchant she was dealing with had heard of Raven and wanted to do something to help bring her home. This merchant recommended and paid for (thank you!) sessions with an animal communicator who did several sessions with Raven (however that gets done) and then communicated with Elaine as follows:
  • Raven is alive and would like to return home (when she thinks about home)

  • She finds the idea of returning to the Lexington School overwhelming

  • She is picking up on many people worrying about her and pointing her in different directions and this is confusing her.

If Raven won't/can't return to a location we know how to get to, then the only other good solution to suggest to her is that we urge her to go to go up to someone who can help get her home to us.

To this effect, may we make a public appeal please? Can everyone coordinate and focus on one or two thoughts with regard to Raven?
  • Send mental pictures to Raven that she can be back home with us - her family

  • Encourage her to find a safe person to approach and then calmly siting down in front of that person, so that that person can help get her home to us.
Thanks!

I don't know what to make of this animal communication stuff - I'm mostly skeptical frankly - but doing this cannot hurt, and maybe will help. So - skeptic or not, if you are reading this, please send Raven some consistent messages about how best to get home.

Mark

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thank you

We wanted to take a moment to thank everybody who has called or emailed with good wishes, and those of you who are silently sending good thoughts our way. We are still actively looking for Raven with a group of incredible, dedicated volunteers, and after over 5 weeks of looking it is often your well-wishes that help keep us going.

We really appreciate your support.
Elaine

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Update

Hello All. I wanted to let everyone know that unfortunately the craigslist listing was not Raven.

Hopefully something else will turn up soon. We are still maintaining the feeding station. The folks at the fire department have been extremely kind and cooperative. Mary Ann has been busy walking the trails in the Lexington reservoir area and also posting flyers in the new area where Raven was spotted. Gilda checked the animal shelters yesterday -- again -- if only they gave frequent flyer points!! ;) Other friends and volunteers are also continuing to help as well, and we are extremely grateful.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Uncertainty

A few developments happened today. We got a call from the Lexington School to the effect that a few of their children reported seeing Raven just south of the school. They were not able to provide a concrete location as to how far south, however. Elaine went out there to look around, but no Raven.

Last night on Craigslist someone posted the following:

Found Female fluffy black dog with extremely long matted fur.Has stickers and leaves stuck in coat. No collar. Have been out of town on vacation for 3 weeks and it appears the dog had taken up residence in our garage (using doggy door) Very nervous/anxious and is hard to approach. We have shut the doggy door via the outside and will hold her there until morning. Looks to be a sheepdog or similar breed. All black with a few specks of silver. She was EXTREMELY hungry and is being fed and taken care of here.

Please contact if you think this is your dog. Please be able to show proof of ownership


We have written them via craigslist anon email - the only option possible, but they have not responded yet. Finding that Raven was up north in West San Jose - where she started her ordeal - would be at odds with our tracking data which suggests that she was recently far to the south (e.g., by Lexington Reservoir). It's certainly possible that she is the dog in question, and hopefully these people will contact us and we will be able to find out - but we don't know until they do.

The one solid thing to acknowledge is the ongoing support of the wonderful people on our find_raven list. Randi has been checking shelters; Mary Ann has been putting up posters, and that's just what I can think of off the top of my head. Thank you sincerely all for your help, time, attention and compassion.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Movement within the Lexington Reservoir area

We did a second day of tracking based on Monday's sighting at Lexington Elementary School, mostly to see if Raven stayed in the area. We know it is very rare to be tracking and to come across the object of your search. Mostly, we are tracking to know where to do promotion and feeding stations at this point. Here is the track:

R7 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Trip Sharing with Google Maps

We started at the CDF alma station where we had left off the previous day. Raven went south back towards the school but veered off towards the shore of the reservoir. She basically went south from there until she could not go south anymore. If you look on the google map, the reservoir appears full but the reality of the situation at this point in time is that the thing is maybe 1/4 full. The south end, where the creek comes into it from the mountains is pretty much just a mud flat with a creek running through it. There are some houses along Oakmont Drive and she basically headed for them and skirted their backyards which look out over the expanse of reservoir to the north. We passed an old bridge which normally would be under water. Because of the low water levels, it was walkable and covered with grass. This is some road remnant of the old town of Alma we later learned which was submerged to form the reservoir.

Passed the Oakmont area homes, raven actually got into the creek and then went north for a short while on the eastern side before doubling back south in the creek bed itself. She progressed into increasingly muddy and reedy areas until we encountered what appeared to be a beaver dam with an actual small but rather deep pond behind it. We were not sure if Raven had gone further south at this point, but we knew that we could not go further south. Cursing under our breath and hungry for lunch, we backtracked ourselves towards the Oakmont area and came out onto that street only to find that Dino had the scent again - Raven had not gotten past the pond but we don't know how she got herself from there to Oakmont. Elaine brought lunch at the intersection of Oakmont and Old Santa Cruz highway and then we were walking north again on Old Santa Cruz.

The Lexington Elementary school is not far, and Raven must have realized this, because she basically made a bee-line there. We stopped at the entry gate after realizing that Raven had gone into their campus to check with the office to see if it was okay that we be there. It was, so we proceeded. Raven had gotten in through the main gate and proceeded to do about three or four loops around the entire campus. At first she was exploring and looking for food, but the later loops started to be more about checking out the fence for a way out. Somewhere in the middle of the campus track segment, Raven had actually walked into their cafeteria building through door 1 and then across the length of that room and out the door 2. No one noticed her - this might have been early morning or late in the afternoon when few people were around. We saw various food items on the ground here and there so it was apparent that this was a decent place for her to get a meal.

From the school she walked north on Old Santa Cruz until she got back to the CDF station, which she entered again and did another loop around, leaving there by picking up the trail that runs through their backyard - an extension of the Los Gatos Creek trail. She took this trail (which she knew well from the previous day) straight north to the Dam and then walked across the dam due east until finding the boat ramp parking lot. She explored the area there and then went down to the water where we stopped for the day.

The last thing we did was significant. While on the dam we took the dogs down the north side to the actual Los Gatos Creek Trail terminus from where you can get to Los Gatos or Campbell and asked Dino and Dot to tell us whether Raven had headed North. The answer was no.

So - we see here more of the same behavior that she's been engaging in - continuous movement - searching for food and new movement opportunites. One of the things we noticed today is that with the exception of her visit to the Lexington school, she was not near garbage cans. We are thinking that maybe she has been hunting and this accounts for her ability to maintain such an energy level in an area where she has much less human food opportunities. Not sure. If this is the case, it's a bad thing because that makes her less likely to stay near people -- and there are a lot of opportunities to go into places where no one lives (so she becomes invisible completely) and where we cannot track her. all she needs to do is to go south or east and she disappears.

I was debating whether it made sense to continue tracking after today and have decided (with the assistance of Monica and Elaine) that for the moment, further tracking won't help. The reasoning is this. If she is merely staying in the Reservoir area, more tracking won't help us. If she goes further south or east, tracking won't help us because there really aren't many people in those directions (if any in some directions!). She didn't go north. West is cut off by 17 and we saw no signs of crossing 17 (although she could do that). If she did go west, it's pretty much the same as if she went east - few people and roads and difficult to track her there. We have a very poor understanding of the area and the prospects for where people live and where she might be seen if she goes east south or west, so if you live in the area and/or have an intimate knowledge of the terrain there, can you please comment and tell us if we're missing something? That could be helpful.

We've kept the feeding station at the CDF in place so maybe she will make the rounds again and find the food and we'll get her to come back there on that basis. Or maybe she won't. This is not a situation which can be forced, unfortunately.

Tired now. More as we have it, but at this moment I'm not expecting more for a bit unless something pops at the feeding station. Would be that this was an easier task.

Thursday Mid-day Update

Mark, Jackie and the tracking dogs are back out on Raven's trail again right now. I checked in with Mark when they broke for lunch, and he said that the trail went through some very marshy areas so that they spent a lot of the morning wading through the muck. Now she has gotten away from that and back onto solid ground.

Unfortunately the dog food that we left at the fire station was untouched overnight, so Raven did not return there. Her movements seem kid of frantic and random now, so we think that she is just desperately hungry and searching for food. I really wish that she would stay in one place -- it would be so much easier to find her and help her.

We are also really hoping that she heads back to the more populated and developed areas of Los Gatos. I don't know about all of you, but seeing that photo that Mark posted of the large animal prints in the area has made me even more scared for Raven's safety. I hope that she will go back towards town where she will be away from large, predatory animals....

Posted by Monica

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Raven tracked to the west side of the Lexington Reservoir by Lexington Elementary

This morning (Wednesday) we received an email from a woman saying that she had seen raven on monday morning just as she was pulling out of the Lexington Elementary School in the area by Lexington Reservoir south of Los Gatos. She described a large black poodle, moving fast, crossing the street several times and then running away. She saw a collar and thought it was odd that this dog would be alone. She was not aware then that Raven was missing but did figure it out based on some sort of electronic networking we as a group have done - perhaps through facebook or similar.

Since the report seemed very credible; since my father is in town helping us with child care (Monica is away on business); and since Jackie was available to do tracking (originally she was scheduled to be out of town this week), I arranged for Jackie to meet me at the Lexington school with Elaine. Jackie got there about 1:30 and we were quickly able to determine that the sighting was Raven (as Dino and Dot easily picked up the scent heading down Old Santa Cruz Highway south from the school driveway. I recorded the days track which appears below:

R6 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Share and Plan your Trips


Starting at the elementary school (which by the way google locates inaccurately on the map) about 10:20am this past monday , raven quickly crossed over onto a spit of land adjacent to the reservoir where roads were being constructed for houses. She tried to go down to the water but didn't seem to make it. A layer of burr-covered dried out plants by the water's edge was sticking to Dino and Dot and our shoelaces and it seems likely that Raven - to whom these sharp burrs would easily adhere - would have picked up a couple thousand of them in a matter of minutes. The presence of these burrs may have made the short distance impassible.

She doubled back and went along a little inlet and then back onto the roads that were being build for houses. She moved through the woods from these houses and came across a graphiti covered concrete holding basin the size of a swimming pool adjacent to the road but down the slope so as to be impossible to see from the road. She moved past the basin up a driveway and came out by the CDF Alma Station Helibase into which she went exploring. She moved along the periphery of some of the buildings. As we moved into the station we spoke with some firefighters there all of whom were very nice but no one had seen her.

She moved down the slope behind the base and picked up a trail there. Several times she did loops from the trail towards the water and then ended up doubling back to the trail. As she came into a large dirt parking lot directly to the north of the CDF station she did several of these loops. We think the narrow trails there, the upslope portions of which were covered with people's garbage may have attracted her attention as they would have smelled of food. But several times she looped and came back to the parking lot not finding anything satisfying there.

She continued to move north from there and ultimately made her way into a marshy area where the remains of an old concrete boat ramp or similar were located. We spoke with some fishermen there who had not seen her. Near the water (which was easily accessible here) we saw some very large animal tracks none of which looked terribly friendly. The largest of these was made by a pad-footed animal with claws and was easily 4-5 inches across in width (see the photo of the print with my shoe for comparison - also notice the burrs on my shoelaces). Perhaps a mountain lion? Hard to say, but nothing I'd like myself or my dog to meet at night or during the day either.

Raven pressed forward through a very marshy section before turning back around, heading south again and ending back up at the CDF station again. This time she found their living quarters and mess hall and did a few loops around there, going up the porches.

It was starting to get dark about then and neither Jackie nor myself had any desire to be out in the woods at dusk. We continued to track just a bit from the CDF station - passed several houses under construction and then found that concrete basin again - went up the hill towards the road and came out by the CDF station for a third time. This is where we ended for the day.

The last time we saw this sort of crossing paths we tried to set up a feeding station. It did not work, but it seemed like it was still a good idea so that is what we did again tonight with the kind permission of several of the men and women and one of the captains manning the station. With any luck she will find it and have a decent meal.

Though raven is now expending a lot of energy to move about, she isn't moving anywhere in particular. Her movements seem very random (more than before), with lots of loops and with a frenetic character as though she cannot rest. Jackie says she is probably very hungry and this is why (combined with her general tendency to move quickly anyway) she keeps going on like this. It's all about finding the next bit of garbage she can eat now. No time for anything else.

Since we now have a pretty recent sighting we also have a basis for doing another findtoto.com robocall in that area, so Monica scheduled one which apparently went out this afternoon while I was out tracking. Perhaps our elementary school mom is not the only person who has seen Raven.

By going south into the Lexington Reservoir area, raven has left the relatively safe confines of the Los Gatos to Campbell trail and entered open and far less populated territory. There are real wild animals there and much less food. This is not a good move for her to have made, but on the other side of the coin, at least we have some sense of where she is recently. before this we had no sightings for two full weeks and were really feeling that there was nothing to do to advance the search but post flyers semi-randomly in areas that seemed logical. Now we know to focus our efforts near the reservoir.

We know that Raven moves quickly and does not seem to stay in any place. So tomorrow we will track again and perhaps see if she has moved on from Lexington. I hope not. I hope she finds our food and the nice firefighters at the CDF station. but anything could happen.

BREAKING NEWS: Raven spotted Monday in Los Gatos!

We're hot on Raven's tail... er trail again!

Mark heard from a nice woman named Vilma who said that she saw Raven Monday morning at the Lexington Elementary School which is at 19700 Santa Cruz Hwy in Los Gatos. Mark has rushed there and met up with our tracker, Jackie and her dogs. A few minutes ago the tracking dogs have picked up Raven's scent and so now they are back on her trail.

This is a wonderful development because we were about 2 weeks behind her on the trail and now we are only two days behind!

We also checked with the Poodle Rescue Volunteer who provided the photo of "what Raven might look like now" and I am happy to report that this dog has been in a new home for well over a year now.

This post was written jointly by Monica and Elaine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A nice comment

Lots of folks have told us that they are checking this blog every day and hoping for good news. We would love nothing more than to actually have the best news and share it with everyone... but unfortunately, at least for today, we still have not found our Raven.

We are working on the ideas previously mentioned, and also trying to get some newspaper coverage for Raven's story.

I thought that I would share with everyone this very nice comment sent in by Leisha. It is messages like this one that keep us going in this darkest of times:

You guys have done a great job of getting the word out there. I have been following your blog since I first saw people putting up posters in Los Gatos many mornings ago. We have a black standard poodle too. And, everytime, and I do mean EVERYtime we take him out with us, we get stopped by people asking if it is Raven. I took our dog, Cooper to my daughters' school and so many kids were asking too. I had several tell me that they look for Raven when the walk to and from school. I am sharing this with you so in these tough times, you know all you have been doing is working. So many are looking, and hoping for Raven's safe return home. No matter what my girls and I are doing, we are always looking for her. You guys are really doing an amazing job! I am sending you good thoughts and prayers.

Thank you so much, Leisha. We really need all of the help that we can get!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Raven might look like now

We are coming up on a month that Raven is missing now. We have no new sightings since two weekends ago at the Campbell Farmer's Market. It's depressing and we are dealing with the sort of coming out of shock and coming to terms with the idea that we may never see Raven again. Then again, just today, on the mailing list, someone posted a story about a dog who was lost for three months and then got reconnected with its people. So there is hope, but it's impossible to know what will happen.

What we do know is that if and when Raven is found, she will not look like the nice photographs we've got posted at right, but instead like the rescue poodle pictured at left. Poodles have hair - not fur and they do not shed. Instead, their hair keeps growing and growing and they get shaggier and shaggier. The only way their coat stays a reasonable length is through grooming and cuting/shaving. Raven's coat was already at the long side of the spectrum when she was lost - that was about three months of growth (from the shaved-to-velvet baseline) and she will now be at four months and counting. The hair is also very fine, so it tends to get matted when it gets wet, which is also likely.

The poodle in this photograph is not Raven. I'm not sure who this dog is, actually, but the photo was contributed by Susan Wilson who does volunteer work with Bay Area Poodle Rescue as an example of what lost poodles look like upon being claimed at a shelter. They look like sheepdogs or something similar; so different in fact that people may not realize they are poodles unless they have a photo like this for reference.

So - if you see a female dog that looks like this one down in the Los Gatos Creek, or in a shelter, please give us a call. We miss our baby very much.

Mark

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More searching, no luck

Hello all. Mark and I have gone back to our day jobs. Had to go back to ensure that there would be something to go back to...!! Anyway, we were out this weekend with Sofia and Elaine and walked the Los Gatos Creek Trail once again looking for Raven. Still no luck.

We are coming up with strategies for what to do next, and have the following ideas:

1. raise the reward amount

2. advertise in more local newspapers and publications

3. do a direct mail campaign in the targeted area of Campbell and Los Gatos

4. contact an animal communicator again

We are pursuing all of these things, and are eternally grateful to our team of friends and volunteers that are helping us with them.

We have not had a sighting of Raven in 2 weeks now, which is depressing and scary. We are still hoping that Raven will be found and that she can return home to our family soon.

I think the most important thing that we can do is keep talking to people, posting flyers and generally trying to raise awareness about Raven in the Campbell and Los Gatos areas. This will increase the chances that someone might see her and give us a call -- which could also be the basis for re-starting tracking from a new and updated location.

Thank you so much for your interest and your help.

Monica

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Top of the list

All, this is Monica. Mark is on a business trip and I am doing what I can to keep things going while also taking care of the baby. No real developments yesterday on the search. We are planning to go to Campbell this weekend and pass out flyers/talk to people. We really need another sighting and the best way to facilitate that is to raise awareness as much as possible.

Anyway, Mark told me something that really was a surprise. If you go to Google and search for "lost poodle" this little website is actually the number one hit! So hopefully that means that we are getting some good exposure from the blog.... I tried the search myself and also noticed that a few down the list is the blog of our friend, and photographer, Mark Rogers in which he mentions Raven's story.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Raven featured on TV!

We have been trying on so many different fronts to find Raven, and I realized that we never mentioned on this blog that our Raven was featured on television last Thursday!

Craig Herrera, a meteorologist at KNTV (which is NBC channel 11 for the Bay Area), was kind enough to show Raven's photo and talk about her for about 15 seconds during the early morning broadcast.

We are so thankful and feel very fortunate that we were able to get this coverage for Raven. I don't know how to get a clip of the video, but will try to post some photos...


Craig is a very nice guy -- I think that he is a dog lover himself -- and we are very grateful to him. We used Elaine's phone number (with her permission) for the broadcast, since she has the 408 area code. Elaine reports that she has gotten something like 200 calls since, but mostly it is people wishing us well or asking if Raven is found yet.

Anyway, we figure that the more people we have who know about Raven, the better!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday-- stakeout doldrums...

All, this is Monica. I started Day 4 of our dog food stakeout at about 5am this morning. Our wonderful friend Michelle came to relieve me at 7:30am (enabling me to make an appearance at work -- hooray!), and my mom took over at 1:30pm today.

So far we have still had no sign of Raven, and we are thinking that if she doesn't come by tonight, we will probably stop sitting in this one spot. It was a great idea, and the tracking showed that Raven had been by our stakeout location multiple times just recently before we started. So I guess it is just another stroke of bad luck that she may have moved on to another location just when we started our feeding station with the hopes of luring her back.

Anyway, we are at a very difficult and depressing point now. The tracking dogs are not available for three weeks, and by that time we would be so far behind Raven on the trail that it would be extremely difficult, or maybe even not possible, to catch up with her current location. We really don't know what to do next. It is pretty likely that she is in or near the Los Gatos Creek Trail, but neither our stakeout nor many, many hours of walking the area looking for Raven, calling her name etc. seems to be working. If anyone has suggestions for us, we are all ears! It is hard to know what to do at this time, that might have a chance of being successful. . . .



To end on an up note, I am attaching a photo of Raven dressed up as Tigger, which we did last year for Halloween. Raven is such a ham, she just loved being in costume and getting extra attention as we walked around the neighborhood while all of the kids were trick-or-treating. I still have this costume, and I also was given a Tigger costume that is the right size for our 18-month old daughter Sofia. I am hoping that we will find Raven in time, and this year we can have *two* Tiggers in our family for Halloween.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday evening - stakeout night 3

About now is the third evening of our dogfood stakeout. No luck so far regarding Raven. We have been urged to be at the site 24 hours, but we are finding that this is just physically impossible to comply with. I (Mark) was physically shaking with fatigue the other day so much so that people sent me home to rest. I'm not used to feeling that way. Others are not too far behind me, I don't think. Our thought is that the Octoberfest and 5k events of the weekend may possibly have made Raven more skittish than normal and now as the weekend ends and things quiet down more we maybe will see her. But quite possibly this is just wishful thinking too. At any rate, we will keep the stakeout going for a while longer as we're able and see what happens. We don't have any better ideas.



This is a photo of our stake-out set up. After we took it we added in the scent items, our worn clothing, directly underneath the plates of dog food. Monica bought a whole case of canned food and we have been putting out new plates (with that fresh from the can smell!) a few times a day.

I'm not personally shocked that the City of Campbell doesn't want our posters around. Cities like this are run by their respective Chamber of Commerce groups, and those chambers are all about the money. Lost dog posters maybe distract people from buying things or disturb the city's charm or are too depressing or something along those lines. It's of a piece with my earlier experience with Safeway, where the supermarket would not let me post a poster. I wonder what a Campbell city manager would do if s/he lost a dog in the area and needed to recruit the help of local people in order to secure the return of the dog?

I want to recognize again, all of the folks who were not on the stake out but were helping in other ways. Wendy and her kids, Veronica and her family and also Randi and Gary of Poodle Rescue all came out to walk the trail, talk to people and hand out flyers etc. Campbell did not have a farmer's market this weekend, but we did have a presence at the alternate event, their Octoberfest, so that many of the vendors there knew to be on the look out for Raven.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday-- Day 2 of the dog food stake out

Hi all, Monica again, and again I am going to keep it brief.

We've had some combination of Mark, Elaine or me at our "feeding station" continuously from 3pm Friday until 11pm tonight (Saturday) -- watching several plates of dog food in the hopes that Raven will show up and eat. Even if she is too scared to let us catch her, she would hopefully learn to come back to the same location repeatedly for food and we can work with her over time. We also put out several "scent items" (i.e. our pre-worn clothing), and tucked our baseball caps into the fence above the dog food. Maybe our smells will attract Raven, or be reassuring to her somehow. Anyway, unforunately, we have not seen her yet. Elaine stayed there until 11pm tonight, and we will take an overnight break and resume at 5am on Sunday morning.

The City of Campbell called and asked us to stop putting up our lost dog flyers. They told us they're tearing them all down. It makes me so sad to hear that. We are not trying to sell anything, just desperate for the return of our lost family member. We can continue to talk to people on the trails, though, so that is what we will do.

Thanks so much to all of the friends who helped today. Lynore and Gilda went to the Campbell October Fest to hand out flyers and get the word out. Veronia, Geeta (and probably others too) were out on the Los Gatos Creek Trail looking for Raven. The photo above is of the creek, for those who have not seen it. Randi and others put up posters and had flyers at the all-breed dog show.




Mark and I took a break in the evening, which I think will be really helpful. It is emotionally so hard to keep trying everything that you can, but nothing seems to work. Anyway, hopefully we will have another sighting soon or she will find the feeding station. We really need some luck here, but at least we are doing what we can.

Oh, one last thing: while our feeding station has not worked so far to attract Raven, I am very happy to report that we have actually found and returned TWO other dogs to their families! They were both Labrador Retrievers who showed up to eat the food in the late morning on Saturday. Neither had been lost for very long, and one of the families gave Elaine a nice bottle of wine in appreciation. Maybe this will be some good karma for us going forward...!

Friday Night/Saturday Morning Stake-out

Hello All. This is Monica and I am going to keep it very brief. We went out again yesterday on Raven's trail with Jackie Phillips and her team of tracking dogs. After a day and a half of tracking it appears that Raven is really staying near or in the same area. At Jackie's suggestion, we set up a "feeding station" in an attempt to get Raven to return again to a location where she had gone a few times. We got permission from the very kind neighbors first....

So Mark and I sat there all night long, literally, and stared at multiple plates of dog food! There was surprisingly little interest -- really just one cat. We saw a few raccoons, but they never actually approached to food or tried to eat any. Hmmmm. Anyway, we'll try to add more later, but right now we need to get back to the stakeout.







These photos show Mark with Jackie setting up the motion-detector camera. You can see our heroes Dino and Dot, the tracking dogs, in the shot with the camera set up on the fence.

Also, we have several wonderful helpers who are out at the Campbell Octoberfest trying to get out the news about Raven today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday's Track: South From Campbell Along the Creek

R4 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Share and Plan your Trips

We tracked again today, based on the last known sighting of Raven which was last Sunday morning at the Campbell Farmer's Market. Here is basically what we learned today.

- The track started with Raven heading up the hill on East Campbell Ave between 1st and 2nd street. She did a loop out to Winchester and then headed back into Campbell downtown.

- she then headed over to Railroad Avenue area and spent time at the city truck yard (at the end of Dillon), a neighboring junk yard there, and the "Avalon" apartment buildings down at the end of Railroad Ave. It appeared that she may have spent a fair amount of time in the Avalon Apartments. From there she found her way back to the creek trail.

After walking right through Campbell Park (checking garbage cans as she went), she went south down the creek trail right past the dog park (again checking garbage cans and walking into the ladies bathroom there) and then into the perk ponds where she went towards the Dell side and explored down the various pond lanes that run perpendicular to the main north south trail. She explored the perimeters of various commercial properties off of Dell, making sweeps past their dumpsters.

She then returned to the park, crossed a bridge over the creek and went over to the side closer to 17 (near Oka Lane) From there she found a pedestrian bridge and crossed over 17 into a neighborhood north of 85 and east of 17. She did a loop there out to Bascomb and then seemed to have doubled back across the pedestrian bridge back to the perk ponds. The excursion across the walkway had me going quietly nuts, because that seemed to mean that she was leaving the relative safety of the creek trail (with easy shelter and water) for an endless residential area without water or shelter, not to mention that it would also mean an entirely new area where we would have to poster and raise awareness. But she seems to have had the sense to turn around.





These photos show Dot and Dino, the tracking dogs, taking a well-deserved break. Dot is tiny and she loves sitting in our baby's car seat. It is very cute really.

We ended the day in the homes on and near Oka Lane where she had just successfully found a feral cat feeding station in someone's backyard. Dot and Dino were happy to have a break as you can see from the photo. We will pick up the track tomorrow (Friday). The general trend of the movement is south and is along the track she previously used to get to to Los Gatos the first time through. We don't know what moments in time she was on these parts of the track except that this general section of the track started on last Sunday morning. So it isn't clear how far behind her we are now. We may have stopped where she was on Wednesday or Monday - just not sure.

Other observations which are important:

- she is not hiding at all and neither is she secluded or slinking through the bushes while moving. She is walking right down main trails and side trails and streets and the perimeter of commercial buildings (looking for dumpsters). She is using the same paths that people would use. We are unlikely to find her looking in wooded areas (at least as far as today's track is concerned). When she moves, she is on the human pathways almost all the time.

- she is doing a lot of searching for food. At every opportunity, she was looking at dumpsters and garbage cans and feral cat feeding stations. She is hungry now and food search seems to have dominated her movements.

- She is not staying in one place, but rather continuing to move. Fortunately, at least she seems to have decided to stay within the general area of the creek during this section of the track, but she is not staying in Campbell or Los Gatos but rather moving between them constantly.

The big question now is - how do we move from this tracking to the next level which would be something along the lines of setting out food for her in a place where we know she will find it and then be motivated to return to again and again. From what we understand, Raven is quite unlikely to recognize us even if we meet her in the street. After being out so long she will likely be in a sort of survival trance and simply run away from anyone (including her people) who tries to get their hands on her. What typically needs to happen (so we understand) is to get the dog used to feeding at a particular place, and then you can either trap the dog or gradually introduce the dog's people to the feeding area so that they are less freaked out by their presence, and hopefully there are enough cues present that the survival trance breaks and she will recognize us. The problem we face now is that though she is seeming to be staying within a contained area (bounded by the creek and the cities of Los Gatos and Campbell) this is a still a large area of some 5 miles north to south and there is no way to know she will encounter any particular food we might put out. If anyone has any suggestions, our ears are wide open.

Mark

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another false alarm, but with a silver lining

Mark and Elaine had a dry run today. It was not Raven. Here is the story. At about 2:50 this afternoon, Elaine got a call from a woman who said "We have your dog, she is in our yard and we are feeding her tri-tip, I hope that is OK with her medical condition." She assured her it was, and to keep giving the tri-tip to buy some time. The woman gave a Monte Sereno address and said she had to come to the corner to find a sign to call us. Elaine raced out and called Mark while she was on the way to the car.



A couple of minutes later, the woman called back and said a neighbor was claiming that the dog was hers. Elaine told the woman that she would come see the dog anyway, reported this to Mark, and found that he was already on his way. (Mark had been out walking the Los Gatos trail and looking for Raven for about 4 hours today). Elaine got to the house and was met with three very apologetic people. Evidently the police had been called to help, and they had determined that this dog had tags on it indicating that it lived a few doors down the street. They kept apologizing and Elaine kept thanking them for taking the time to corral these two dogs and to try to find their homes.



Elaine chatted with them for a few minutes, and they told her that the police had DEMANDED to see the tags because they wanted to know if it was "that poodle people have been looking for"!!!!!!!! WOO HOO!

One of the ladies walked Elaine up the street to the neighbor's house, just to see the dog and be absolutely sure it was not Raven. It was a 6-month-old Schnoodle. A young man (Jr High age) in the Schnoodle's house came to the door to find out what was happening, and he was very impressed that he had talked to "the poodle's person". Evidently all the kids at his school are talking about Raven and the $500 reward. WOO HOO! WOO HOO!



Elaine also stopped by Pet Food Express in Los Gatos, where the staff has been doing a great job of getting out the word about Raven. When she was leaving PFE, she had a cell phone call. It was George, a UPS driver in Los Gatos. He told her that he thought he had seen Raven today. She asked him where, and based upon the location, it seems that he also had seen the Schnoodle, found a flyer and called. WOO HOO! WOO HOO! WOO HOO!



So, there is some GOOD awareness out there in all kinds of good places! Now for the funny part. Elaine was there when the woman drove up to pick up the second dog (a chocolate lab) that these kind people had caught (probably using the tri-tip they had planned for dinner) and held for her. She wanted them to clean the mud off of the dog before she put it in her car! One of the people provided a hose, and the other two good Samaritans and Elaine stared on in disbelief. At that point, one of them turned to Elaine and said "You are so grateful and thankful that we called you, AND IT WASN'T EVEN YOUR DOG! She hasn't even said thank you, all she did was demand a bath!" Elaine told them that she hoped Raven would find some very kind people like them, and that they should stock up on tri-tip... ;-)

Bottom line: There are lots of good-hearted people out there, watching for our Raven.

Second bottom line (from Monica): when times are tough, Elaine is an excellent friend to have in your corner!

Tomorrow we are hitting the trails again with Jackie Phillips and her canine tracking team of Dino and Dot. Hopefully we will pick up the trail from the location of Raven's sighting in Campbell on Sunday. We would really like to get an idea if Raven is still nearby, or if we should focus the search elsewhere....



OH-- one more bit of good news, Craig Herrera, NBC Bay Area Meteorologist, has agreed to show Raven's photo and help us publicize her loss. Craig does the very early morning broadcast, and we may get bumped a day given the news events, but we are very hopeful that this TV exposure will be a help in getting more people to learn about Raven. As always, fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

rain slows down the search, but does not stop it

It rained like crazy throughout most of today just like the weather-people said it would. We had planned to go to work today and actually did both do that - both on account of the rain and because after spending most of the last two weeks searching in one capacity or another, things were piling up pretty high. I didn't end up getting that much done, however, as my mood was low and half-way through the day we had a power-outage which knocked me offline (I work from home). Can't work without electricity. After an hour it was time to pick our daughter up from daycare and do the evening routine. Life goes on even when you feel a bit shell-shocked.

Amazingly, though Monica and I were not actively searching today, some of our friends (new and old) who are more local to San Jose were.

Elaine continues to go out to Campbell in the early morning hours to see if Raven will walk by. She has her food dish and kibble to dump into it to make the sound that would normally bring Raven running. Today she noted that wet kibble doesn't make the same pleasing sound as dry kibble, and anyone outside trying this trick should bring a plastic bag. Though this is an overly serious feeling time, a little humorous observation does help to lighten the mood.

Mary Ann Monahan-Frank spent some time searching under bridges today and posting flyers (now water-proofed somehow).

Cathy Scott searched near where Dell is adjacent to the perk-ponds (along the trail south of Campbell).

Various people on our yahoo groups list contributed suggestions for new places to search and helped to continue to get the word out through other dog rescue groups and dog-related groups.

Towards the end of the day, at Randi Plotner's urging, people started to introduce themselves, as it had become apparent that many people on this newly formed list did not know each other. So people contributed their story and a little bit about how they could each best help. The common thread is, of course, a love for dogs. It is neat to see a new group come together.

I know this awful situation - to lose a treasured pet - is a universal thing that many pet owners can relate to (and which many have experienced too), but it is still unexpected and amazing that kind people who were strangers to us until very recently are out there helping us look for Raven - actually out in the pouring rain looking for a lost dog. We are so grateful and (in this aspect) fortunate.

Mark

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday-- Still Searching on the Los Gatos Creek Trail


Before this whole crisis began, we had done a photo session with Raven and Elaine's two German Shepherd Dogs. This was part of a Pet Food Express promotion in which you make a donation to a rescue group, and then get a "My Mutt" poster displayed in a PFE store near you. Recently, we got the proof for the poster image from photographer Mark Rogers which appears above. Mark has been incredibly helpful and generous in letting us use his photos to aid in our search. Seeing this gorgeous image of our sweet dog Raven makes us want her back all the more....
Elaine's dogs Eva and Maya were with Raven when all three broke through a fence and got out of their back yard. Tragically, both Eva and Maya died within hours. We loved these dogs too and miss them terribly. It is remarkable how you can go from contented happy times to distressed times in a heartbeat.

This is Monica writing. Again, thank you everyone for your continuing interest and help in finding Raven. We did a lot a searching today, but unfortunately no luck so far.

This morning our friends Elaine and Lynore stationed themselves in downtown Campbell and waited from 5am to 8am in the hopes that Raven might show up, foraging for food. Starting at about noon, Mark was in Campbell and walked WAY down the Los Gatos Creek Trail and back, calling Raven's name and looking for her the whole time.

The pet detective Jackie has told us that sometimes lost dogs get so scared and traumatized that they might not even answer their owner's call.... This was a big concern for us and we were not sure how to deal with it. Mark had a great idea this morning: he took Raven's stainless steel food dish and a handful of dry kibble and is repeatedly dropping the kibble into the dish as he walks along. That makes a distinctive sound, and Raven would always come running to us when she heard that at home. Maybe we can use this to get a reflexive response from her, even if she is scared to death....

We put in a big effort today and were really hoping to find her. There is a big storm coming to the Bay Area, 2-4 inches of rain in the next 2 days, and we feel awful that our baby dog will be out, exposed to all of that. You can only do so much, though, and we are trying everything.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Wrap-Up: Raven seen in Campbell, she may be traveling on the Los Gatos Creek Trail

Well, we rushed to the Campbell Farmer's Market this morning after receiving word that Raven had been sighted. We found the man who had seen her in front of Bistro Twist and spoke with him, and he was fairly certain that it was her and gave a physical description of the dog complete with collar so we feel reasonably certain that it was her. This was at about 7am during market setup and Raven was moving up East Campbell Ave heading west between 1st and 2nd streets. We split up, with Monica going down towards the creek and walking south, and myself and Veronica and her daughter Isabella walking the length of East Campbell Ave but without result. No one else we met had seen her, but we talked to many people and put up flyers.


Given that we have a sighting from last Sunday (10/4) afternoon at the Campbell Farmer's Market was breaking down; a sighting in Los Gatos on Monday 10/5, and then another sighting today 10/11 at the Campbell Farmer's Market again, it would appear that Raven is staying in the Los Gatos creek system between Los Gatos and Campbell. As our new friend who we have not yet met Kit Lofgren points out:




If she has been seen BOTH this week and last at the Campbell Farmer’s Market AND at Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos in the time in between, it is highly likely that she is traveling along the bike path/trail between those two locations. There is also a dog park at the mid-point. This is VERY GOOD news because it indicates that she is staying off of the roadways. Additionally, the fencing along this corridor is designed to keep animals off of Highway 17. In short it is about the safest place she can be.



Where does this leave us? Though this is great news (that we have a sighting and a bounded area to search), it is still a giant area to search and we did not have any success today. We were confident enough to purchase a FindToto.com automated calling set for the Campbell area to commence tomorrow, and perhaps that will turn up more information. We will be back in the area looking for her. Elaine suggested that it is probably beyond Raven's abilities to know that "Sunday" means market day, and that she was sighted on East Campbell Ave may be less a function of market day than just that on Market days she is more likely to be sighted, and she may be touring these areas daily or almost daily in search of food and just not be being seen in the early morning hours most days. Her plan is to spend some time in the early morning hours on East Campbell and see if Raven sprints by. Myself, I have work to get done in the AM, but I will be out on the Los Gatos Creek Trail south of Campbell Park tomorrow afternoon doing more looking.

We've been in touch with our Pet Detective Jackie Philips, and are on her schedule to pick up with the tracking on Thursday, her next availability.

Interestingly, we got the call to check out the market about 11am. About 9:30 am we got the email response back from the Animal Communicator we had talked to the other evening, Suzi Dalling. Suzi had asked me to send her some concrete questions to ask Raven, so I (skeptical as I am) worked to comply with that. I had asked her to convey to Raven how concerned we are and that we are looking for her, and then a bunch of questions designed to try to narrow down where she might be. Suzi had sent back that she understood that Raven was staying in a place where there was always water (although roaming around looking for food from there), that the place was wooded, with a park a short distance to the east and that it was nearer to Campbell than Los Gatos. I'm not sure what to make of that, but it is at the very least an excellent guess and a coincidence. It is in accord with today's sighting.

As a final note, it continues to be amazing to me how different people react to our story and search. We were in the coffee shop at the Pruneyard Mall area (in between the creek trail and downtown Campbell) this afternoon and the young woman behind the counter was sympathetic to the point that she posted our flyer near the coffee lids so that customers would see it. This young woman was excited to show us pictures of her dog on her cell phone. Another man on a bicycle saw us putting up flyers on a bridge over the creek nearby the Pruneyard, and yelled out "graffiti!" as he road by. Clearly he saw us as nothing more than litterbugs. I suspect that this guy does not have a dog. When it is your family member who is missing, you will do anything to find her and get her back home again.

BREAKING: Sighting @ Campbell Farmer's Market

BREAKING SIGHTING: We understand that a fellow "sergi" or "sergy" selling sausages near "Bistro Twist" at the Campbell Farmer's Market saw a "black poodle with a pink collar moving fast" this morning during setup. It's presently Sunday the 11th of October and the Market is still happening. A week ago she was sighted at this same market during the closing period (around 1-2 pm). We are heading down there as soon as we can with the hope of sighting her ourselves.

IF you are in the Campbell CA area and can respond with us, can you please?

Mark

Friday, October 9, 2009

Regrouping: Tasks, Yahoo Groups & Animal Communicator

No new word of Raven. No confirmed sightings since Monday - five days ago. This is demoralizing and depressing, but as the odds of safe return go way down if we give up, we'll just have to live with this feeling and persevere.

We are fortunate to have the assistance of concerned and sympathetic friends and family
  • Monica's mom came into town yesterday and helped search Los Gatos yesterday. Today she helped us by visiting the various shelters without luck.
  • Mike Murray who we know through German Sheppard Rescue is looking into possible ways to obtain media exposure for this search
  • Friends at Pet Food Express where Mike works have been putting up posters in their stores
  • Randi Plotner of Bay Area Poodle Rescue is looking into communicating with their network of adoptee families to possibly help with the search and has been very helpful with searching and coordinating.
  • Kit Lofgren and Mary Ann Frank, independently, are searching in the Los Gatos area
  • Veronica Presedo-Floyd, also of Poodle Rescue, has opened her home to us while searching and has been very active in searching herself and in helping to coordinate things.
  • and more - which I'm too tired to record now, but which are no less appreciated.
I (Mark) was able to devote about half the day to the search process. and spent some of it working on a list of things that we need to be doing in order to advance this search process along. These things include:
  • inspecting the Animal Shelters frequently and in person
  • posting "lost pet" notices on animal shelter websites where this is provided for
  • Keeping the Craigslist posting current
  • Placing ads in large and small area newspapers
  • Educating various pet-related professional groups regarding Raven's loss
    • Vets
    • Groomers
    • Doggie Daycare Facilities
    • Pet Supply Stores
  • postering area dog parks
  • postering adjoining cities to Los Gatos
  • Seeking media opportunities so as to broadcast word and awareness
  • Attending pet-related events and handing out flyers
We are figuring, given the rate of travel we recorded, that we need to cover the entire south bay area, and that may not even be enough if someone picks her up and drives away with her (but if that occurs, it's a whole other ballgame anyway).

We've covered some of these tasks (Monica and I, Elaine and others above), but could use assistance with executing some of the rest of them. If anyone wants to help us find Raven by , now would be a good time to raise your hand (you can write me at mark@dombeck.com or call 510-325-6979)

We have established a Yahoo groups list to help coordinate communications regarding this search. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/find_raven/ Feel free to join/subscribe and/or pass this on to others who might be interested.

Finally, on the advice of some people we respect, we have begun the process of hiring Animal Communicators to see if they can give us any sort of lead regarding where/how to search for Raven. Animal Communicators are people who report being able to speak with animals at a distance, not in words, but in pictures and emotions and feelings. My wife and I are not familiar with this sort of thing and are skeptical, but at this point in time, we are quite willing to try it and see what happens. A consultation will occur tomorrow and we're supposed to have a report via email by the evening tomorrow, so more about that sometime tomorrow, I suppose.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The end of the begining

Monica has recorded the details of the last two days pretty well. The situation today is that we have confirmed sightings of Raven in Los Gatos from Monday, but nothing since then. This suggests the possibility (perhaps the strong possibility) that Raven has traveled out of Los Gatos to parts unknown since Monday and this is why people are not seeing her and reporting it. We know that we've reached a kind of critical mass within the city regarding people's awareness of the situation and it seems strange that no one would call if she was slinking around.

The decision now is do we track again or not. At the moment, tired and fatigued and needing to get some work-work done, I am thinking probably we do not track more at this time. Jackie and Dino and Dot are not available until Monday, and this would put us days behind. It's not a question of the freshness of the scent as Dino can track scents up to 5 weeks old without issue, apparently. More to the point, we don't know when Raven left Los Gatos, if she did, and we might spend a full day simply noodling around that city and not get the direction of her travel out of the city until multiple days of tracking were completed. Unfortunately, tracking is like listening to an old school cassette tape with the fast forward button broken. You can only follow the track as it was laid down. You cannot skip ahead without someone calling you with a confirmed sighting and we don't have that.

We are thinking that yesterday and today mark the "end of the begining" phase of our search. Initially, we have charged ahead trying to find her ourselves. It has become apparent that this is quite unlikely to happen - Raven is too fast and too evasive at this time. And the rest of our lives have been suffering and need our attention at this point too. We don't have the bandwidth to continue the search with the level of energy and single-mindedness that we have put out previously.

So, we are thinking through what we can do, and have been listening to many people's good advice about how to conduct a less aggressive search. As I have time to digest it all I will post what we come up with here. Certainly, this will involve craigslist postings and other website postings, regular checking at the animal shelters, continued postering of areas where Raven might have gotten to, newspaper ads, etc. If this is going to become a long term effort, we have to arrive at a program we can sustain over the long term. More on the shape of this effort soon.

We have been truly touched by the many people who have put forth an effort to help us. This may not be the place to acknowledge everyone's contribution personally, but I want to make clear how thankful we are.

I slept in my own bed last night and spend the morning and evening with my daughter. It's nice to have a little normal again.

Mark

False Alarm, but another definite sighting from Monday

All, the call was about a black labrador, not our Raven. The black lab is safe and sound now, but unfortunately this was a false alarm for us. This whole experience has been such an emotional rollercoaster.

We did get a call from a very nice woman named Molly, who says that she saw a black poodle with a pink collar in that same neighborhood on Monday morning. She has seen the photo and is certain that this was Raven. So now we have at least two Raven sightings in Los Gatos on Monday (the other was a black poodle, alone, on Monday evening at Los Gatos Highschool).

We also have the canine tracking team that has followed Raven's path all around Los Gatos: downtown, the neighborhood immediately northwest of downtown (Bean Ave, Broadway Rd, Pennsylvania Ave, Sheldon Rd), plus multiple visits to Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks, and also a loop over on the southeast side of Highway 17.

We cannot be sure if Raven is still in Los Gatos, but this is the best that we have to go on, and clearly she has spent a lot of time there. As always, we appreciate anything that you can do to help.

Black Dog reported at Pennsylvania Ave and Wissahickon

All,
We just got a call from the Los Gatos police that someone reported a loose black dog on Pennsylvania Ave, near where it dead ends on Wissahickon. We don't know if it is Raven, but Mark is in town and rushing there right now!!

We're not giving up!

Good morning all, this is Monica. My mom has driven cross country to help us, and today she will be in Los Gatos searching once again, along with Mark. My friend Cari T. will also be in town, and Veronica from Poodle Rescue will still be looking as well.

If you are in Los Gatos/Campbell/any nearby area there is something that you can do that will only take a minute. Print 1-2 of the flyers posted on the home page of this blog, and tape them to the back of your car. I did this in our minivan, but was careful to tape it down below the window line so that I could still see safely. This way, as you drive around town, a lot more people will get a chance to see the flyer and learn about Raven.

Thank you so much, all of you, for caring about our dog and your efforts to help us find her.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A very hard day

This is Monica again, and unfortunately I have no good news to report. Today Mark, Elaine and I, along with our wonderful friend Randi Plotner from Poodle Rescue, tried a different tack. Rather than going all over town with the canine search team, each of the four of us took up a location in Los Gatos where Raven's trail had visited more than once. We stayed there with scent items (Elaine and Randi had some of our pre-worn clothes) and smelly meat items, and just hoped that Raven might again return.

As you've probably guessed from the headline, unfortunately we had no such luck. Plus, this approach gave us the opportunity to sit all day and contemplate the devastating lost of our sweet dog. Maybe the truth is that we just won't be able to find her, no matter how hard we try.

Anyway, Mark and I are both feeling exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I think we are going to take a break tomorrow, and then maybe re-group Friday or over the weekend. We are definitely not giving up on our Raven, but we have just hit the wall in terms of continuing this intensive search the way we've been going. We need to come up with a strategy that is more sustainable for the longer run -- and just hope for the best. We know that Raven is a survivor, and a surprisingly resourceful dog.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tracking Raven all over Los Gatos-- and a potential near miss

R3 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Geotagging Community




Hi Everyone,
This is Monica, writing in with a brief summary so that my (very exhausted) husband will have one less thing to do tonight. It was day 3 with our canine tracking team, with almost 12 hours of searching until it was just too dark to go any further.

What we have learned today is that Raven is going all around the City of Los Gatos. She is very actively exploring, and has been downtown, to Oak Meadow Park, crossed over Hwy 17 to the neighborhood Southeast of the highway, etc.

Our tracker Jackie suggested that Raven may be scenting Mark and I, and that could possibly be why she is going all around the same area. In the morning we parked our van at Bean Ave and Bayview Ave, where we had suspended the search the previous night. We started searching from there in the morning, and left our car.

Amazingly, before the end of the day, RAVEN'S TRAIL WENT BY OUR PARKED CAR THREE TIMES!! Of course, we were not there, because we were out looking for her. Aaargh!! After the first pass, we hoped that maybe our dog was trying to find us too. I just stayed put at the minivan for about 30 minutes -- but unfortunately I had to leave then to drive to Alameda before Sofia's childcare closed.

We had three reported sightings of a black poodle in Los Gatos: one at the High School Monday night, and two Tuesday Morning at Rose Court (off of Saratoga Rd. near the Monte Sereno City Hall). However these are all unconfirmed. We learned late in the day that there is a Los Gatos resident who has a dog that looks a lot like Raven, and that it was potentially her dog that was spotted instead of Raven.

I'll end the post by mentioning how remarkable and truly touched Mark and I are about all of the help that we are receiving. The people that we've spoken with in Los Gatos have for the most part been very kind and concerned. Our good friend Elaine has knocked herself out and been side-by-side searching with us every step of the way. Our friends Sally and Tom have given us a place to stay, put the word out to many locals, and searched for Raven themselves.

Mark's brother Glenn has driven all the way from San Rafael (twice) to help with the search and putting up flyers. Monica's friend Cari brought flyers to pet stores. We have had friends of friends bring us lunch along the trail so that we could keep moving, and offers of donations towards the bill for the search dog team.

Most impressive of all, some people that we didn't know very well beforehand have really stepped up to help. Randi Plotner, Veronica Presedo-Floyd and Michelle of Bay Area Poodle Rescue have been looking for Raven, passing out flyers and cheering us along. Tomorrow they are joining the search, and I hope like anything that tomorrow is day that we find our Raven!!

Los Gatos



Raven tracked to Los Gatos residential neighborhood (near Bean Ave and Bayview Ave). Los Gatos and Monte Sereno (sic?) residents, please look out for our black (poodle) dog!

Please call 510-325-6979 even if all that has happened is that you've seen her a while ago. Knowing exactly where and when she was at a place may help us jump ahead in the scent track and get closer to her.



The nice GPS track that I was able to post yesterday is not available today, for several reasons. I will try to draw it up later when I have a better internet connection, but for now I will have to describe it.

We started the day at the perk-ponds where we left off yesterday. Dino picked up the scent heading south, but I, not really understanding the way this all works still at this point in time, went off to the north calling her name, thinking she might have doubled back. waste of time. The first lesson is this: In matters of tracking a dog, do not try to outsmart Dino. Only Dino knows what is going on in any real fashion. And the second lesson is this. Raven moves. She doesn't seem to stay in one place very long. So if there is Dino evidence that she is moving south, don't go to the north. She just isn't there anymore.

Minus myself, Dino and company continued south along the creek and then went out into a neighborhood. I can't describe where exactly as I was not there, but while I was walking north, I encountered our friend Sally and her friend Mary who were jogging, and they were calling out to Raven without success and asking people about her, etc.

ultimately, Raven's track had gone all the way down the creek - through vascona lake - all the way to Los Gatos, CA. As she approached town, she left the creekside and went along the frontage road that leaves town to the south and heads into a ramp into 17. She went down the ramp some and then doubled back towards town.

After leaving the ramp to 17, raven walked some ways up Wood road. She walked across a swanky assisted living facilty driveway and exited on Broadway and then headed northwest to the end of that road. At the very end is an old victorian era home that is not lived in (but there is a renter in the outbuilding). The steep driveway there consists of several switchbacks, and at the first switchback there are three abandoned raised garden beds. Behind this is woods. Raven walked up the driveway, passed the raised beds and directly into the woods.

This frustrated us to no end, as we could not follow her. Jackie is very professional, and there are rules about what roads you can go down and where you have to stop. You can go down a private road if the gate is open (which it was) but you cannot trespass. So we required permission to go forward, but no one was home to give it. We left signs and requests to call us at the terminal driveway and turned around back into town. By this time it was something like 1pm. we had started at 8.

Fortuitously, my brother Glenn called at this time. He looked up the area on Google Maps and reported that there was a fire road that traversed the area raven had gone into. He thought we might have some luck picking up the track again at the entry points to that fire road. Accessing that fire road proved to be a challenge. We tried a few different roads that appeared to provide entry, but these all terminated in far-too-expensive houses. My brother had suggested we try Sheldon Ct. and so we did, and that ended up being one of the ends of the firetrail. You cannot park there, so I stayed with the van while Jackie and Dino and Dot went in along the trail seeing if they could pick up the scent. Meanwhile, Glenn was able to come down and help us search.

At this point I was feeling quite low. There is an intense emotional side to this sort of search process that parallels the physical journey you are experiencing. We were feeling so hopeless on Saturday, and then the rapid progress we made with Jackie and Dino and Dot on Sunday really lifted our spirits. it seemed like Raven would be just around the corner. And then to find that she had gone into a place we could not go was a glass of cold water on our hopes. Jackie had warned us that it was unlikely that we'd be able to track to a place where Raven would be so we knew this intellectually, but emotionally, you hope.

about this time, I started thinking about what we looked like to others, moving through these cities like some traveling carnival of drama, "excuse me sir, have you seen my dog?!". "Help save my dog!" The evening before in Campbell, I had asked a table full of men if they had seen raven and one of them pointed to a tiny stuffed dog shaped toy he happened to have on the table, "could it be this dog you mean?". He grinned the grin of a guy who was content to take cruel pleasure in my loss. Asshole, I thought. This is not the typical experience. The typical experience is sympathy. A person sees your aggitation and urgency and feels bad for you. Dog owners expecially so. But the line between "this is happening to you" and "this is happening to me" is not broken. Real empathy doesn't much happen (not that I expect it to). Your pain is a reminder of why they are glad this is not happening to them right now. We move around this life thinking we are in control and this shit won't happen to us. And then, out of the blue, sometimes it does, and other people have a hard time breaking their own denial to understand you at those times.

Maybe 4pm or so Jackie Dino and Dot arrive back at Sheldon Ct. Good news. Dino picked up the track about 1.5 or 2 miles in and followed it out. It seems that Raven had entered the woods and not liked it - maybe smelled the scents of hikers and bikers on the fire trail and moved that way until she found herself on it and then she moved down the hill back towards Sheldon Ct. Apparently Dino is trained to only follow the track from older to newer, so as he was entering, from newer to older, he did not think to alert Jackie to that fact.

At that point, basically Dino tracked Raven moving down the hill back towards the Los Gatos downtown. We hooked up with Glenn who had been talking to people around town. We stopped for the night at Bean and Bayview.

So - again, I find myself amazed by the good judgment of my dog, and also dismayed by her lack of insight into her predicament. If only she would stay in one place, we could reach her. But she can't know this. Being a dog, she deals with what is in front of her directly only.

This is a sensitive time right now. Strategically, the purpose of this tracking is not to stumble upon raven, although that would be highly desirable. the purpose is to be able to target postering efforts so that people throughout town can know to look for her and that she is lost so that the lucky person she reveals herself to can help. We are prety confident she is in Los Gatos in the last 12 hours and maybe is there right now. So we need a break - someone to see her - someone to catch her.

One thing seems to be predictable. She will move again. She could go towards Saratoga, or towards Blossom Hill or back towards Campbell. Who knows? The only way to know is if we track her, and the expense in cash and time and energy is very large. Not sustainable for too long. And the dogs are tired. Dino and Dot were balled up like donuts at the end of the day. This mode of search cannot go on indefinitely. We are weighing our options.

We love raven - we are bonded to her and she to us - this is why the drama parade is happening. Because something real is happening for us - a real loss. It looks odd from the outside only because the bonds that drive it are invisible from the outside. Just like Dino appears to be doing magic by following the track because we cannot perceive the scents. It's perfectly obvious to him why he goes where he goes. What's wrong with those humans who don't get it?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress

Raven is still not found but wow have we made progress.

Today was an amazing experience. We set out with Jackie Phillips, a pet detective, and her tracking dogs Dino and Dot. Starting at the last confirmed sighting point (Junipero Serra Lane and Hazel Dell) we recorded the following trail:

http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=379716

Raven1 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: Geotagging Community

Some of this track is interpreted - the GPS was not recording the whole time and where there are gaps, the line is drawn in from the last known point to the next. So this is not 100% of what we walked but it is pretty close.

The beginning part of the trail is not recorded as I had not thought to download the right app for my iphone, but it went like this.

Raven started out by crossing 280 at Saratoga (South ramp) heading north, and immediately went down into 280 itself. She walked along the freeway's southern edge for a bit - a very dangerous and noisy place! - getting as far as Saratoga North exit ramp and ultimately backtracked back to Saratoga North ramp, exiting by the Harker School (sic?) - a very swanky looking private highschool. She spent some time there as the track went circles around and around, but ultimately she left, heading east on the road just north of 280. This is where the track map starts.

At St Tomas Expressway, she turned and went south until she hit Starbird park. At this park we met two nice women Dede and Tina (I think) with dogs who had seen her , they reported, on Thursday morning something like 7am. Apparently she had tried to play with these dogs, but one of them was an aggressive acting pit and the owner had held that dog back for everyone's safety.

She wandered out of the park and into an apartment complex with many Mexican families and the strong smell of food. Raven had looped around this complex, checking out the dumpsters but ultimately exiting through neighborhood streets, and ultimately ending up a little further south.

At Payne Avenue she turned and started heading due east, crossing S. Winchester Ave and going further east until roughly N. Central ave when she headed north towards Marijane Hamann park. She walked the perimeter of this park, and then, upon discovering a pedestrian skyway across Highway 17, she crossed that skyway.

She continued east, I think on Downing Ave until hitting S Bascomb Ave where she turned south. Here's where it gets really interesting.

There was until recently a Pet Store on S. Bascomb called Bangcok Pet Supply or similar, - part of a larger strip mall complex. Raven found herself in the back area of this particular strip mall for some reason and did her perimeter dumpster check thing. The owner of Bankcok had recently put up a Craigslist annoucement saying that he was out of business, and that there were two large (87 gallon) acquariums he was leaving in the back for the first poeple who could pick them up. This ad was posted on Tuesday the 29th September, and we think it likely that the tanks were gone pretty quickly but apparently people have been showing up to see if they were still there for the taking. When we got there, a fellow was there in a van looking for the tanks. We tracked raven to a hiding spot behind the north dumpster, but Dino could not find a track out of the area. So Jackie thought that someone had come in looking for the tanks, found Raven and put her into a car or truck. So - Jackie had said that Dino could still track the scent of Raven even if she was in a car, and what she did was take Dino across the street and had him check all the corners of the egress areas, and sure enough Dino picked up the track on the far side of the road. It progressed south along Bascomb Ave until abruptly jerking to the west right at the light rail crossing, which also happens to be a creek crossing and a nature trail. It appears that Raven was in a car or truck, and then just jumped out of that vehicle, probably as it was moving and took shelter by the creek. Amazing!!

Down in the creek area is a hidden tent where some homeless person lives. We tracked raven down there and put a poster under the homeless guys's tent front door - maybe he'd seen her? The creek extends to the east and west of Bascomb, and we tracked Raven exploring both ends.

About 100 feet to the south on Bascomb is one of the EBay.com campuses - the Whitman campus, and Raven had gotten there and spent a lot of time going in and around that area, and neighboring condominiums Hamilton Crossing (?). We met a woman not far from there Marcella who reported seeing her in on Thursday afternoon on the median strip of grass in front of the EBay building (apparently a hot dog spot for the EBay workers). This contact with Marcella was on the creek nature trail just north of the EBay complex.

Raven did some exploring to the east of EBay - getting as far as the Valley Christian School and checking out their perimeter/dumpsters before then doubling back west, this time on Hamilton and then picking up back on that nature trail/creek area.

Once back in the creek area, she ultimately went south on the nature trail, crossing under creekside way and then turning left off the nature trail to an easement that connected the nature trail to the road into the historic downtown of Campbell, CA. Phil, who co-owns the self-serve dog wash in the south part of Campbell reported that he saw what was probably Raven on Saturday at 5pm emerging from that connector trail.

We walked up the street into Campbell's old downtown (very cute) and met a few people who said they had seen her. One person said that they had seen her at the Farmer's Market today (Sunday 10/4) in the early afternoon. Another guy at the Orchard Coffee Shop said he had heard about a stray dog being captured by someone who had fed/watered it - we aren't sure this was Raven though.

At this point it was getting to be late in the day, and I stopped accompanying Jackie and Dino and Dot for a while - trading places with Elaine (our friend) and Jackie, Elaine and tracking dogs continued on to search part of the Los Gatos Creek trail. We ended the day at Dell Ave near the ponds. 12 hours of tracking. The trail continued on but we had no daylight to continue to use to follow it. We will pick it up tomorrow morning.

So that is what we have learned and this is an amazing amount of information.

1. Raven was not poisioned. It is highly likely that she is still alive and in the Campbell, CA area.

2. Raven is resourceful and finding ways to take care of herself.

3. Dino and Dot are canine gods.

One of the take-home lessons for us so far is that our posters were failing to draw any sightings, because raven was not in the area we were postering. She had traveled over 6 miles across several days - very far from where she had started. If we had not engaged Jackie and Dino and Dot, we would never in a million years know to look in the Campbell area.

We do not have Raven back yet, but I have to say that I feel an enormous sense of relief knowing that she has done as well has she has done, knowing where she has been (having walked it with her in a way) and that she is likely still alive and hopefully findable.

I'm dead tired so that's all for now, but pretty good stuff, huh? Go Dino!

Mark

I want to put in a postscript about how impressed I am with Dino and what he is doing. Dino is picking out one scent that is over 4 days old from, what, ? - thousands, hundreds of thousands of scents that are all jammed together in a 3D tapestry. He is able to keep one specific thread in mind while ignoring the others (save for minor lapses for squirels and easy to nab food) and do this without visible effort of any sort. That the wind (or cars going across a freeway) may have disbursed the scent doesn't matter much. It's more diluted, but he's still able to find it. I'm guessing this must be in the range of 1 in a billion molecules he is picking up (I'm pulling this figure out of the air but it's got to be something like that). He is a little walking, kibble-eating gas chromatagraph. It is so impressive; I am so in awe.