Tanner’s Story of Fearless Survival

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On Monday March 22 Tanner, a 4 year old Coton de Tulear, had traveled with a friend and their dog to Denver to have their eyes examined. On their return they stopped at Wilmore Lake for a potty break. My friend was trying to put a leash on Tanner when Tanner escaped from the car and ran toward I-70. Tanner ran along I-70 for a ways then started running along the fence between the interstate and Cordillera Valley Golf Club.
I received a call from my friend saying Tanner had bolted in Edwards and ran away. Absolute panic went through me at that instant and I took off for the 2+ hour drive to Edwards from our home in Fruita.
At some point Tanner slipped through the fence and into the golf club. He ran to the east end of the club where he was spotted on the Pirogs deck. The Pirogs tried to get him but he ran past them and into the night. I arrived just after dark and looked for him but didn’t know where to even start. I regret now not staying longer in hopes that Tanner would find me but I went back home to start fresh in the morning.
I searched all the next day and posted flyers. My friend searched all morning as well. Another friend set up a Pet Amber Alert, called the veterinarians, shelters, sheriff, animal control. We also started a social media assault on Facebook and Twitter.

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Coton de Tulear owners and lovers are passionate about our breed. When one Coton is lost we all feel as though that dog is our own and we go into action. The story of Tanner spread like a wildfire and all Coton lovers were on alert. Prayers and well wishes started to flow.
Tanner is micro-chipped but does not have the GPS feature. Having the microchip would only help to identify him if he were taken to a vet or was picked up by animal control.
Tanner laid low the day after his escape but was seen all over the Cordillera Club on Wednesday March 13, and many calls were coming in about Tanner sightings

The only person to respond to my Pet Amber Alert was Evelyn Pinny who has participated in other dog rescues in the valley. She was willing to go to the club and see if she could find anything. She was there at the club when all the sightings occurred that Wednesday. But Tanner was on the run avoiding humans and she couldn’t find him.
Dogs who run away are in survival mode, a fight or flight response. Their domestic characteristics fly out the window and they become animals again who are working off of their survival instincts. Tanner was in an unfamiliar area and was completely freaked out. He didn’t know where to go or what to do but knew to survive somehow.
Tanner is a very happy boy, well socialized and very balanced in personality. But as a dog on the run, he wanted nothing to do with people. He really was not my “pet” when he was on the run but a lost, frightened animal.
I arrived back in Edwards on Thursday confident I  would see Tanner. I sat by myself at one of the houses in Cordillera where Tanner was seen the day before. I spoke to him, sang to him, walked up and down the road but never saw him. Evelyn and her friends searched the entire club that evening to no avail. No more Tanner sightings. This was very frustrating since the day before he was seen all over the place. We were out again Friday but no sightings. I had to return home and was very upset at having to drive passed the club and home without him.

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The residents and guards of the club were extremely gracious in allowing us to search the club for Tanner. Everyone who passed me would ask if I had found or seen Tanner, they were very interested in a happy ending with Tanner being found. Some residents would walk or hike specifically looking for Tanner. Some spread the word around the club and town to be on the lookout for Tanner, some left food out for Tanner and some said a prayer for Tanner. I can’t thank the residents enough at their efforts to try to find Tanner.
Tanner could not have been lost in a better place with all the support and love for a strange little dog they had never even met. There were unoccupied homes with nooks and crannies which would be perfect for a little dog to hide out. We “thought” he’d be likely to stay around the houses, hide during the day and go out at night.
Tanner was not seen for 4 days and finally appeared again on Monday March 18th. This turned out to be the last confirmed sighting of Tanner and this was in the other side of the club.
Evelyn and her friends continued to search and I came up a few more times to look for Tanner. After Tanner was gone for 2 weeks we changed strategies in hopes of finding him. We attempted to get Tanner on a feeding schedule and we set up a trap. The food was being eaten in the trap so we went ahead and set the trap. Once we did that we found the food missing but the trap wasn’t sprung.

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So then we set up trail cameras to see if we could at least see him. The cameras worked well but we never saw any photos of Tanner.
The weather turned very cold the weekend of March 22. We all felt Tanner was still there and were very concerned about the cold and snow. Small dog footprints were seen that weekend at the clubhouse and the eastern part of the club. We don’t know for sure if they were Tanner’s but we worked off the assumption that they were. We’ll never know for sure.
Of course without any confirmed sightings I was worried we missed him and would never see him again. Not knowing where he was was very sad and worrisome. I was beginning to think either someone had him or something had happened to him.
Through the whole time I spoke to Tanner, I encouraged him to “go to the people”. I was begging him to at least make an appearance in front of someone so we knew he was still alive. My mantra to him was “Tanner go to the people, Tanner come home.”
Every single day Tanner was out there Evelyn was at the club to feed him, set the trap and check the cameras. She was even more optimistic than I. I knew that when Tanner was found it would come out of the blue.
On Wednesday, April 3, I had finished checking up on dogs that were found in shelters matching Tanner’s description when I received the miraculous phone call I had eagerly awaited over 3 weeks to receive. Evelyn had Tanner and was headed to the vet with him. I was overjoyed but in complete shock. I was on the road to Edwards within a half hour and it was the most joyful ride up there I have ever had.

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Once on the road I finally was able to get the story of how Tanner was found. Owen Carey-Hatch, a local ski instructor, was dog sitting for a family in Cordillera when he was hiking on a trail above the water tower. We knew Tanner could be around the water tower because we’d seen small dog footprints near there but we didn’t expect to find him way above the water tower.

The dogs spotted Tanner lying under a tree and Tanner was unresponsive. When approached Tanner tried to get up but was too weak. Owen was conscientious enough to know this dog needed help and needed warmth. So he wrapped Tanner in his coat and brought him down the mountain immediately. He called the owners of the home where he was staying to see if they knew who this dog might be. They had heard of Tanner and knew it must be him. Owen’s boss met him at the house and they tried to give Tanner some food but Tanner only nibbled on the food. Tanner was cold, dehydrated and very weak. They called the guard station and he immediately called Evelyn.
Fortunately Evelyn was in the club checking the trap when she got the call from Josh at the guard station. She grabbed Tanner’s crate and headed over to the house where Owen had Tanner. Evelyn could see Tanner need to be seen by a vet ASAP and rushed him to Fox Hollow Vet Clinic. There Dr. Gruber warmed Tanner up and gave him warm fluids. Tanner was skin and bones, down to 8 lbs from his normal 12 lbs. Once warm and hydrated they started giving him a little food. His heart sounded good and he did have a few scratches and scrapes.
By the time I arrived, maybe 3 hours after rescue, Tanner was much better. I held him, spoke softly to him and kissed him. His little tail started wagging back and forth and remembered he has a loving mother.

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In a split second a dog will go into a survival mode and in a second will come out of it. Tanner sat with me, Evelyn and Heidi Clark (another wonderful helper who searched for Tanner) for a little while. He started walking a little bit and he seemed happy to be among caring people again.
We checked his temperature and the Dr felt it was ok to take him home. He told me it will take Tanner a while to regain his strength and will need to be brought back slowly. A little bit of food and water throughout the day. Tanner was given 5 meals a day of turkey, chicken, canned food, eggs, yogurt and vitamins. I added broth to his food to make sure he was getting plenty of water. He was very tired and slept a great deal. For the first 3 days it was like having a newborn baby who only ate and slept.
We thank God that Owen was where he was, when he was. It really was in the nick of time as Tanner would not have survived another night or two on the mountain.

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We did everything and anything possible to bring Tanner home, people from all over the world prayed for Tanner and many people played a direct hand in helping find Tanner. I believe that each and everything anyone said or did saved Tanner. Somehow this was all a circle of positive energy that was picked up by the universe in Tanner’s behalf just at the right time. God was watching over Tanner, there was a purpose for Tanner’s adventure, then he sent Owen up that trail before it was too late.

This was a horrible experience but in many ways it was also a wonderful experience. People from Edwards, Eagle County, the state of Colorado and from all over the world came together in love for a little dog named Tanner. It was a profound experience. I can say I’m very proud of Tanner, the survivor. I’m proud to be Tanner’s Mom.

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I will be writing a website or webpage with step by step suggestions on what to do if you lose your Coton. I will announce it as soon as it is completed and I hope it will be of great help and service to those who find themselves losing their Coton.

Here are the main points if you lose your Coton:

-Do NOT chase or approach a dog who has bolted or is running loose. Have some yummy treats, sit down on the ground with your body sideways to the dog. Talk low, do not make eye contact, and see if the dog will come up to your hand full of yummy treats.

-Don’t panic. I know it’s hard to do.

-Cotons are strong survivors, they’re very intelligent and resilient. Trust them to survive.

-Remember the dog is in survival mode and probably will not even come to an owner.

-Do not expect your dog to come or react to your commands.

-Launch a full out search for your pet. Recruit as many people as you can. Alert law enforcement, vets and shelters in your area. Contact local newspapers, alert media, radio stations, post in Facebook and any avenue that can put out the word for you.

-Do a display ad in the local paper.

-It may take just 1 person being there at the right time but you need to inform anyone and everyone you’re missing your dog. The word must go out to as many people as possible and tell them to tell everyone they know.

-Print flyers ASAP and put them everywhere and give them to all residences where the pet was lost. Flyers should go in heavy traffic areas such as grocery stores, post office and anywhere many people go.

-Do a Pet Amber Alert that will call people within a certain radius of where the pet was lost.

-Launch a social media assault to find the pet. Ask friends to share and spread the word.

-The dog is likely further away than you think.

-Check shelters not only in the area but outside of the area. Make sure they have your number in case they get a pet matching your pet’s description. Visit the shelters in person every other day to see if the pet is there.

-Don’t stop, keep searching somehow, every single day.

-Try anything and everything, you never know.

-Do not ever give up!!

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Thank you,

 

Kris Forke

Edelweiss Coton de Tulear

www.edelweisscotondetulear.com

http://www.edelweisscotondetulear.com/blog/

www.facebook.com/HelpFindTanner

4 thoughts on “Tanner’s Story of Fearless Survival

  1. Such a beautiful story, with a true fairy tale ending – I hope Tanner’s story will encourage anyone who loses their precious pet – these pups are resilient, resourceful and strong – don’t EVER give up! They can survive with minimum food and shelter, but not without love and support. Yay Tanner and Kris! Your story will be told as the perfect example of a miracle!

  2. We all worried that your little guy was lost and so alone. Many prayers and wonderful caring people searched for him. It is truly a miracle that he is now home and safe with you and all your furry children. I pray that other lost dogs and cats may find their way home just as Tanner did.

    Sending hugs to you and your furry gang,
    Annette

  3. After following Tanner’s story all the way from Philadelphia, PA and feeling Kris’ pain throughout her search, I have learned that hope is a greater force than we can every understand and with the help of many , miracles do happen. This tale of adventure by a small white dog with a big personality makes us smile when we realize just how special our Cotons really are in more ways than we could ever imagine.

  4. Oh, Chris! My heart sank for what you went through! I can’t imagine the fear and worry! I am so happy you got Ollie’s dad back with you : )

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