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:

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 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!


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.

1 comment:

  1. I've been following your blog and have sent the link to our community group in Naglee Park (downtown San Jose).

    There is a dog park on LG Creek Trail off Dell - you may have found it and posted already but if not, I believe there is a community board.

    Another good dog park to post at is Butcher Park @ Camden & Hillsdale. Folks from all over the area come to this dog park.

    Put a number of flyers in a laminated sleeve and tie to the fence or entrance gates so people can take one.