First & foremost, I am far from being a writer. I simply felt the need to write something to express gratitude for the selfless acts given by virtually an entire community of warm hearted people. Might I please first start by introducing myself? My name is Christopher LeBlanc. My family and I are from Central Massachusetts & I had occasion to be in Branford at my Mother-in-Laws house this past weekend, 11/13 through 11/15. Now my intentions were only to have a short visit on Saturday as my 11 year old daughter Rylee and I were making a stop off to show Mom-in-law & my Mom our newly adopted 6 & 1/2 month old Italian Greyhound/Jack Russell mix puppy.
We found her on Petfinder.com & fortunately enough, she was being fostered in Westchester County NY at The Italian Greyhound Place. Now before I get too far into this “happy ending” story, the reader base needs to know that “Roo” came from an abandoned Italian Greyhound/JRT litter from South Carolina. Roo was one of 5 pups that were discovered abandoned at approximately 4 months old. They supposedly had little to no human contact for the first 4 months of their precious lives, leaving them to rely on genetically implanted survival instincts, they had made their way through the custodial chain when there last stop was to be euthanized.
That is when Debbie & Andy, founders of italiangreyhoundplace.com intervened & took all 5 of the pup’s home. Roo had been with Debbie, Andy & “Benji”, (Benji is another adopted Greyhound) for approximately 1 month prior to us adopting her. She & our current Italian Greyhound/JRT mix Maxx and Roo hit it off fairly well & within 10 minutes or so, they were chasing each other around the backyard of Debbie & Andy’s house. When it came time to take Roo on our way, it was difficult for Deb & Andy to part with her as she is clearly a sweet animal that needs never ending love in return. During the short ride to Branford, Roo settled in quite nicely (So we thought). She curled up in a ball and fell asleep within 15 minutes of starting out on our journey.
Upon arrival at my mother-in-laws house, Roo woke up as soon as we came to a stop. I had reached back to hook Roo to her leash & she darted to the back of our Nissan SUV. I went to the back of the lift gate & opened it slowly. Roo darted back up to the driver’s seat. I now am immediately thinking “Oh, so this is how it’s gonna be huh Roo?” I asked my daughter Rylee to go up front & get Roo to come back to me. She did as I asked. I again opened the lift gate slowly but this time Roo darted to my right and right past me. My hand brushed by her side as she shot by me. My first thought was “OH S&@T!” Honestly, nothing else crossed my mind other than maybe realizing that I’m 44 years old & this is one race I’m likely to lose. I immediately began chasing her through the Meadows condo complex & out on to the neighboring street. I kept up with her until she went around behind the first house we came to and that was pretty much about it. After my legs stopped seizing up and the cramping subsided, I finally caught my breath. It dawned on me that it was going to be dark in just over 3 hours & then what was going to happen?!
The people of the Meadows, Foxbridge, Foxwoods Village & the Woodlands are all very much aware of how bad the coyote population is in the region surrounding Lake Saltonstall. I had been coming here for years & was also well aware of what may lie ahead for Roo’s night in the dark, cold & she was becoming increasingly hungry. Literally, hundreds of flyers printed by my Brother-in-law Brad & Sister-in-law Ann began going up on mailboxes & street posts along with being handed out to every person walking or walking their dogs.
Being from Central Mass, I quickly noticed how truly concerned the people I was talking to were. Every single person in all 4 of the condo complexes that we spoke to were genuinely concerned and told me that they would call immediately if they saw her. I have to admit, at this point I had very little hope but it sickened me to think about making that ride back to Massachusetts without her. It wasn’t long before I was getting calls with people spotting her and darkness was now upon us. I came upon 2 more coyotes in the woods surrounding the complex and for the most part just stared me down. Remarkably brazen & completely unafraid of people or vehicles. It hit me hard at that point that something really has to be done about the over abundance of these animals in this part of the state! I'm sure my dog was not the first pet about to be taken by these carnivores. Closing in on midnight, it was time to call it a night after 10 hours of looking. The next morning came after very little sleep, and I realized it was time to inform Debby & Andy of the tragic escape of Roo. After struggling to leave a message on Debbie’s voicemail, I continued to search for her along with other members of my family. Within 2 hours of making that call to Debbie & Andy, they were at the Meadows helping us search for Roo. After several more sightings, but no real progress.
Sunday came & went. Who knows if she even made it through yet another cold night. I awoke Monday morning to my Mother-in-Law Marcia screeching up the stairs to me “Chris, Chris! Wake up! Roo is out in front of the condo!!” Guess that answered that question! She had survived night 2! I shot out of bed & now reflecting back, wonder if I even touched a stair on the way down. Ran out into the parking lot but she had already run off. I sighed & made my way out to the street in hopes of her still being around. And who do you think was prancing across the lawn of the adjacent condo? Yep, Roo. As soon as she saw me she immediately turned & shot off in the other direction. My heart sunk. “What or who if anyone or anything is going to catch this high energized little one?” I noticed that all of the dog food that was spread along the blanket she slept on in her short ride in the truck was in fact gone. Roo managed to find her way back during the night for a snack!!
I spoke with my daughter Rylee and we discussed our approach for today. I told her that I thought we should focus more on checking under all of the decks & porches of each condo rather than just walking by without looking underneath. Just as we were heading over to start, I told her that I wanted to make one more circle around the roads bordering the outer perimeter of the Condo units & that also outlines the Saltonstall preserve. No sooner I turned right on the roadway surrounding the Lake, 2 or 3 hundred feet down that road I had looked to my left. Literally about a 100 yards back into the woods. There she was! Sitting way back in the woods along a ridge. The minute we made a crunch on the leave bed, she shot to her feet & ran down the other side of the dirt mound & out of sight.
I knew that this looked to be very bad. The last thing I wanted is for her to get outside of the residential area & deeper into the woods where all of the real danger was. Especially to cheat the odds another night what is now their (the coyote’s) home. We all walked in, yelled her name in hopes of pushing her back across the street & onto the Condo grounds again. As we were on our way out of the woods, my wife & daughter Jordan had arrived. I told my wife what just happened with Roo being on the “Wrong side of the tracks” so to speak. She too agreed that was not a good sign. No sooner hung up the cell with my wife, I received another call from a woman located at Foxbridge Village telling me that Roo was in the woods right behind her unit! “OK” I thought, “We may still have a chance”. At this time it was just about 12:15 p.m. on Monday the 15th.
Rylee & I stayed up top on the roadway to make sure that she did not cross back over the road & back into “Coyote alley”. Everyone slowly converged on the scared to death pup. The coordination of this could not have gone much smoother. Rylee & I watched the whole thing unfold just below us at the bottom of the hill. When Debbie got close enough to Roo, she released Benji from his leash. Benji ran towards Roo and after a quiet bark or two later Roo turned and greeted Benji, tail in full wag. It was only then that Debbie was able to scoop her up & after 48 hours of defying odds, she was safe once again. The reasons for telling this story, is to convey just how crucial the members of this pet loving community were in the help of recovering Roo. It is a reminder of how good & caring people can be. It’s the reason why people shouldn’t ever be so quick to turn their backs on society. There is a whole lot of good left in this world. And a large part of that good is located amongst those 4 condominium communities in Branford CT. To everyone that helped by making a phone call to me, walked or drove the streets looking for Roo, or had any part whatsoever in spreading the word that she was missing we thank you from the bottom of our hearts & we hope to see you all again the next time we are in town.
Have a very happy upcoming holiday season and a very best new year.
May your hearts be filled with love…
Chris, Beth, Jordan, Rylee, Maxx & the new “Roo” LeBlanc