Trapping a Feral Puppy

In 1995 I came home from work to find a friend had left me a sort of frantic phone message about a puppy she saw loose near where she lived. She wanted help getting it to a safe place. I didn’t see what the problem was so I left a message on her machine telling her to get some good food and it’ll likely be your new best friend. We finally talked and she told me that the puppy would run into the brambles in a green space near the road whenever she tried to approach it and she had family coming from out of town and couldn’t deal with the puppy. So she asked me to get involved and I went to investigate.

Sure enough the 4 month old German shepherd mix would run for cover when I came to where she was staying. There was an area about a block long that had a uphill slope full of blackberry bushes mixed with native trees and  ground cover that was a perfect hiding place and really difficult for humans to get into. There was a ditch beside the road that had water, but where was this puppy finding food and where did she come from? I brought her food and a cow hoof to chew on and left them both, then went home to start calling animal shelters to see what to do next – these were pre-internet and pre-cell phone days.

The person at the Seattle Animal Shelter told me that they’d have to get within 10 feet of her to catch her with a catch pole – one of those loop on a pole things. I didn’t think that’d work so they suggested I rent a raccoon trap. I called the local rental place and picked one up the next day. I put a dish of canned cat food in the trap, set the trap up where I’d seen her the day before and went back to my car to wait.

Where Ruby was found_0.JPG
This is where she was hiding and where I trapped her.

Within a half hour I had a big puppy in a trap! She chowed down the food and when I approached the trap she went into shock. I’m not a medical person but that is what it looked like to me. Her eyes fixed on something straight in front of her, sort of like she wasn’t there, if you know what I mean, and drool came out of her mouth (maybe from the yummy cat food). I knew I’d have trouble lifting the trap into my hatch back without it jostling her a lot so I waited for someone to come by that I could ask for help. A young woman came walking down the road and I said “excuse me but could you help me lift this trap into my car?”, she smiled and came to help without hesitation!

I got the trap home and my neighbors helped me get it and and the puppy into the house. I put my 1 ½ year old dog Max outside until I knew a bit more about what I was dealing with.  My neighbors left and I put up a baby gate at the kitchen door to keep her in the kitchen if and when she came out of the trap, then I left her alone for a few minutes.

When I came back she was out of the trap and standing in the kitchen with her head hung down and an expression that I think said “now what are you going to do with me?” I needed to know if she was healthy so I grabbed my keys, acted like I knew what I was doing, picked her up, put her in the car and took her to the veterinarian.  The doctor said she was healthy so I brought her back home. When she saw my dog Max I saw that she could act like a normal puppy … the end of her tailed wagged and I knew then things would be alright. I put the dogs together and they played and played. That was the beginning of our lives together.  Me, Max (Aussie mostly white), Ruby (the feral German shepherd mix puppy) and 2 cats Phoebe and Sassy had many more adventures that followed.

The first week. A hot summer day meeting the neighbor’s dog (big orange dog) for some kiddie pool time.
Ruby and Max full grown and happy at home.