Strategic Pet Recovery
Strategy - Technique - Tools
Field Proven Skills to Recover Lost Pets
Roscoe's Big Adventure
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I was casually browsing Facebook on February 2, 2018 and noticed that a dog had gone missing from a home in rural Paso Robles, California - not too far from where I live. Naturally I'd keep my eyes open for the little guy named "Roscoe", a black and tan Queensland Heeler who belongs to a young lady named Chelbi.

A few days had past and I hadn't heard anymore about Roscoe and figured he must have found his way home.  Then on February 5th,  Chelbi posts that Roscoe had been seen in the Cholame Valley. Wait, the Cholame Valley? That can't be right I thought, it's more than 17 miles as the crow flies and easily 60 or 70 miles if Roscoe took the back roads to get there.

As the crow flies, Roscoe was a very long ways from home
So I got in my car and drove out there to have a look around on Cholame Valley Road which goes north from Highway 46 East to Parkfield. It took quite a while to drive there on the highway, and even before I got there I was thinking there is no way Roscoe could make it there on his own.  After a brief look around, I headed back home and promptly posted on Facebook that I had a look, "but can't imagine he would have gone that far".

Then on February 7 or so, my friend Jennifer A. gave me a little prompting on Facebook to rethink matters posting something to the effect of "any ideas Shawn?"  Who am I to let Jennifer down, so I sent Chelbi a message asking for more information to include where  Roscoe was observed.

Initial discussion with Chelbi to figure out where Roscoe was seen
Chelbi told me about her trip to the Cholame Valley, where she left articles of clothing to attract Roscoe, along with food and treats where she found dog prints (very smart actions BTW).  From that moment on, I knew the search on.  That night I made a "Roscoe poster", ready to have copies made the next morning. As I shared with Chelbi, the most  powerful thing we can do to find Roscoe is to get the word out to anyone and anybody that lives, works, or passes through the area - and that was my primary objective.
The shirt with food for Roscoe
The next morning I went to the local Staples store so I could make 80 copies of the Roscoe poster. After topping off the gas tank I was off to the Cholame Valley.  I stapled as many posters as I could  along the road and side roads, north to Parkfield, stopping to talk with anyone I saw to ask for their help in finding Roscoe.
I put posters everywhere
I soon learned the vast majority of the valley and far beyond is private property owned by the Hearst/Jack Ranch companies. This includes all of the houses and "sub-ranches" all along the valley. Consequently, I could not actively search the area because it is land-locked. Thus my search would have to be by proxy, seeking others help to do the looking for me.  This would be done by contacting as many people as possible and placing Roscoe posters everywhere.

On this first day out I spoke with about ten people, three of which had seen Roscoe in the past couple of days or more.  I still had a hard time figuring how Roscoe could make it so far, but now there were just too many first hand accounts of Roscoe running up and down the valley.  

Roscoe sightings in the valley
I have a wireless trail camera, so I placed it near the location Chelbi had earlier placed the clothing and food. The goal would be to tempt Roscoe back for food, get a picture of him doing so, then place a trap and capture him. Well Roscoe had other ideas and never showed up at the trail camera location on the southern end of Cholame Valley Road at the intersection of McMillan Canyon Road where he was first spotted.

Replenishing food and water at the trail camera
Everything but Roscoe showed up
Each day, with a little more urgency, I'd drive out there to put out fresh food, check for paw prints, then drive around talking with people and handing out or placing more Roscoe posters.  The more people I spoke with, the more information I had about Roscoe and the people that work or live in the area.
Roscoe prints
There was the ranch hand that tried to catch Roscoe early on, in a field near the road. There was a quiet older gentleman that eyed the poster for quite a while and stopped me just before I left to tell me where he had seen Roscoe. There was a man who phoned me at home after seeing the poster, telling me how he went out to call his dog in for the night and saw Roscoe. And there was the nice woman that told me about her friend that lives high up in the Cholame Hills that heard a dog barking late at night outside of her remotely located ranch house.

Along the way I met a lot of other nice people. The Cal Fire personnel at the Parkfield station said they would keep the Roscoe poster in their fire truck.  The very nice employees at the Parkfield Cafe that kept a stack of posters on their counter next to the register. The people at the Jack Ranch Cafe that taped Roscoe's poster on the window by their front door.  The Hearst main office staff that accommodated me by alerting the Jack Ranch employees to be on the lookout for Roscoe. And all of the other wonderful people that live so far out there, yet were so kind and willing to help by keeping an eye out for Roscoe. 

So after making the "Roscoe run"  for about a week, new sighting reports had dwindled.  I had figured that Roscoe had sought some place of refuge out of immediate view of people, plus it had been a three day holiday weekend and quiet in the valley.  Then on Tuesday, February 13,  I made an afternoon "Roscoe run" and searched a few new areas. Running low on gas, I headed home contemplating about placing the trail camera at a new location.
Once home, I made a phone call but the "call waiting" noise kept interrupting the conversation. I didn't recognize the phone number of whoever it was trying to call, so I concluded the discussion  and hung up. Just that quick, the phone rang again and as fast as I could say hello, the voice on the other end said "hello, this is Cody and I have your dog".  WOW.  Cody gave me a brief description and I was on my way back to Cholame Valley. But wait, my gas tank was nearly I grabbed the 5 gallon can of gas I use for my lawn mower and sloshed it in the tank and sped off.

Cody and  crew (Cody right)
Cody works at the Jack Ranch. He is astute, soft spoken, strong and humble - the essence of a true cowboy for which I have much respect.  When I arrived at the Jack Ranch headquarters he came out to open the main gate for me, then I followed him back to where he had secured Roscoe in a kennel.  And just that quick, Roscoe is found and safe. Along with Cody were two of his co-workers, equally great guys helping out.
As I turned to see Roscoe in the kennel, he looked a little thin and tuckered out from his big adventure, but otherwise unscathed.  All things considered, it's truly remarkable for the little guy given the extremely remote and unpopulated areas he had traveled.

First time seeing Roscoe, safe in a kennel
Cody told me how he had seen the Roscoe posters in the valley as had most others, so he had kept his eyes open for him. On this particular day, he observed Roscoe near the Jack Ranch headquarters in the valley.  Cody then approached him with his own dogs, a classic technique also known as "dog magnets" (a skittish dog may come to another dog but not a human).  Cody then directed his dogs into the kennel and Roscoe followed. Very skillful to say the least. Cody fed Roscoe a good meal, knowing he must have been really, really hungry.

Somewhere along his adventure, Roscoe lost his collar and tags, which in and of itself is telling about some of the difficulties he must have endured.  I put a collar and leash on him before taking him out of the kennel and walked him over to my car. He happily jumped right in. I profusely thanked Cody and the crew one last time, then Roscoe and I were on our way back home (to Chelbi's).
Are we home yet?
I phoned Chelbi, who was at work, to let her know I had Roscoe. We agreed that I'd go to her house as her friend Joshua was home.  Suddenly it was all worthwhile,  seeing  Roscoe so happy to be home and be held by Joshua.

It was great to meet you Roscoe, welcome back home little guy.

Joshua and Roscoe reunited at home
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