MOUNTAIN AREA – “He’s a bit quiet, sleeping very well on the bed and getting into the routine of being home,” says Anica Martinez, speaking of her returned pup, Captain.
“So far he has been able to hold down food so we’re focusing on fattening him up. I think he’s a bit upset with Sasha as she’s ready to play but he just isn’t into it yet. ”
After nearly two weeks missing in the forest the Merced dog finally made it home with his family.
Queensland Heeler Captain and a Husky named Sasha had busted out of the Martinez family tent in the middle of the night, while they were camping near Fresno Dome over Memorial Day. Anica and Thomas Martinez and their kids frantically searched for both dogs for the duration of their weekend vacation. They contacted camp hosts and Forest Service, and the story spread rapidly on social media. Fortunately Sasha, older of the two canines, was rounded up within a couple of days. Captain was still missing.
Thomas Martinez stayed behind the area where they had camped to see if he could locate the dog. Finally he had to return home. Meanwhile, repeated sightings of Captain were recorded on Mountain Dog Watch, a local Facebook page dedicated to finding lost pets. Day after day, Captain’s progress around the mountain area was noted, but attempts to corral the errant pup were futile. That is, until Friday, June 5, just before noon.
With the Martinez family back at home in Merced becoming more concerned everyday of his absence, others were out looking for Captain. Recommendations had been made, including the sort of food to use to coax him out of the woods (hot dogs in pieces) and the sounds he’s familiar with hearing back home (jingling keys means “car ride”). Mountain Dog Watch founder Michele Elam noted that Queensland Heelers are temperamentally skittish, and that proved to be true most days. On Friday, though, kind-hearted volunteers were able to spot Captain and keep him around long enough for the Martinezes to be contacted, hop in the car and head for the mountains to pick up their dog.
In the end, scores of people helped out in different ways, and finally it was Elizabeth Christie of Bass Lake Summer who kept Captain close while Michele’s husband Jon drove up to help secure the scared and hungry runaway. When Captain’s people arrived, the Martinezes took him immediately to Oakhurst Vet where he was evaluated and released. By Friday evening, Captain was back at home in Merced with his family.
“Words cannot express the gratitude of this moment,” says Anica, who marvels at the number of people who rallied behind her dogs. “We are deeply touched by all the shares, prayers, positive words, and efforts in his search. All of you helped us to bring him home as a team and we’re truly overwhelmed by the community of support.”
Anica feels the experience has been a powerful reminder of beauty in the world.
“Our dog has captured so many hearts and we all will never forget this journey. I’m still reeling from all the emotions of this. We’ve always loved that area up there and are even more connected now.”
As for their next vacation? Anica says they’re heading to the beach. Captain may have had enough mountain, for now.
In fact, his time away from home may have skewed his perception a little, Anica says laughingly.
“We have a new kitten we got weeks ago and we laugh because to Captain, she must look like a squirrel! Our home is complete again.”