And then I waited for Paco to appear. After three hours or so I had not seen anything of Paco. It had gotten dark, so dark I could not see the trap. I was prepared to stay the night if needed, and it seemed that would be the case.
Then at about 9:15PM I heard a gentle "clunk" and a faint yelp in the distance. It was so faint, I didn't think it was the trap but I picked up my backpack of supplies and hustled down to check the trap.
When I got about twenty feet from the trap I switched on my flashlight and was astonished to see Paco for the first time! He was also astonished, or more accurately scared, and started barking at me right away.
It occurred to me that Paco was not trying to get out of the trap, like a cat or wild animal would do. Instead he almost seemed content, somehow secure. For the next thirty minutes or so I did my best to put Paco at ease. Many stray dogs will revert to a more feral behavior when they're away from home so long, having to fend for themselves. Never having seen Paco before, I didn't know just how this might apply to him - but he did calm down considerably in thirty minutes and was certainly interested in the bag of kibble I had. I was able to slip a couple of handfuls at a time into his dish. This went on for a while, where he obviously was less upset at my presence. Still, I did not feel comfortable trying to open the trap to get him out for fear of losing him and maybe taking a couple of bites out of me in the process.
It was getting late, but I chose to call the brother of Paco's owner, largely because he lives in Paso Robles and Paco's owner lives an hour or more away. It was clear from the tone of his voice that there was a bit of disbelief that I was with Paco, who had been trapped at the landfill . I had not shared the events of the past few days, not wanting to botch the one good opportunity to capture Paco.
Paco's owner agreed to make the drive to Paso Robles, then ride over to the landfill with his brother. It was about two hours from the time I made the call until their arrival. I enjoyed every minute of that time getting to know the dog I had been searching for during the past thirty nine days. With his belly full and curled up in the trap, Paco snoozed off for a while - actually snoring out loud. I had to imagine he was looking forward to a good sleep without worrying about the many packs of coyotes and other threats that exist in the wild and remote places he had traveled.