The Misadventures of Hudson: My Furry Friend
Written by: Vonti McRae for dog owner Heather Hay
The local Staples opened at 8am and I was the first person in land. Afterwards while Bob headed off to work, I handed out the flyers to the morning walkers at Tarrywile Park. They all agreed to post on their property so others could see it when driving by. Before lunch my Fitbit had already clocked 30,000 steps! On average you should get in 10,000 steps for the day in order to be at an optimal fit level. I had already done 3 times that and my day wasn’t even halfway over. Once Bob returned home from work we spent the rest of the day until midnight searching a 2 mile radius from where Hudson had been lost. I reactivated my Facebook page and went to task telling family and friends that Hudson was officially lost. A flyer went up on my page with several photos of him. Giving out your phone number on Facebook isn’t the greatest idea but Hudson was worth it.
Day 3– I was supposed to be home or rather at work in NYC. A short weekend vacation turned into one of the worst times in my life. But what was even more devastating was to call my dog walker and cancel. Being a doting pet owner, it is standard operating procedure to have someone come in while I’m at work and take Hudson out for a spin. However on this day I kissed Bob goodbye and headed back to the park at 5am. More flyers and more questions for the morning walkers. Two hours later my cellphone rings and one of many Hudson sightings came through; “I think I spotted your dog behind the graveyard”. The love of my life, Bob, picks me up from the park and we race over to the sighting. No dice. Bob drops me off at his place then heads into work.
I googled all of the dog rescue pounds, vets and any other shelters for animals in a 20 mile radius. My dog was fast and agile. He loved to jump, leap and sprint around when he’s outside, only halting when I give him a command. So he could literally be anywhere in Danbury after 48 hours. My next plan of attack was to call the local Dog Warden. Yes I know it sounds like the head of an animal penitentiary but in fact is a police officer who hunts down and captures rabid or on the loose animals. I left a message for the front desk clerk asking to speak with the Warden who was unavailable at the time. Sadly at some police stations front desk clerks don’t share information at shift changes. So I pretty much had to drag Bob after work over to the police station and give them a flyer. By now I look like a character on the Walking Dead with my puffy red eyes, non-shampooed hair and a grimace set firmly on my face.
Days 4 & 5 – For the rest of the week I tried to meld all information from leads coming in with the front desk clerks at the station and the Dog Warden. I finally got the chance to hand the Warden a flyer in person with a picture of Hudson on it so he could have it in his cruiser.
Meanwhile in NYC word had spread quickly. Even the flyer on Facebook helped tremendously because people literally drove in from NYC to help on the hunt. Not everyone had a car but that didn’t stop them at all. Patrick, Hudson’s dog walker who lived in Far Rockaway, Queens near John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport which is almost 10 miles away from Manhattan trekked 4 times to help me search. He would catch the city bus at 4am and transfer to Metro north into Danbury. I made over 500 flyers on lamented waterproof paper, some color and others black and white. Patrick and I would be dropped off in the morning by Bob and we walked around the school district handing them out to teachers, bus drivers and kids. One time we covered almost 4 miles in a wooded residential area where we came across foxes and deer. Each time I worried how Hudson was coping in the country being a big city dog. We walked the old railroad tracks and through the hills of Danbury determined to reconnect with our furry friend.
After one of our early morning walks Patrick and Bob, who at this point was late for work every day, decided to hit up the grocery store. They had gotten the idea to do a “bacon and burn” which is supposed to draw out animals in the area. Laura, a local Danbury dog walker convinced one of her clients to let us use their driveway and grill. So that night we headed over and put hot dogs with bacon on the grill, turned out the lights and listened carefully to the sounds of the woods. The smell drew deer, raccoons and foxes out of the woods but no Hudson. We sat on lawn chairs on a cold rainy day in their garage watching those hungry animals feast on the meal we hoped to feed Hudson.
In NYC I live in the area of 75 west end where people are furry friend lovers who show each other support. Emails, calls, texts and people started to pour in taking up my cause. But most importantly Hudson’s furry friends joined in the fight. Two people brought their dogs to sniff around the graveyard since I had received multiple leads that Hudson was in that area. Another owner had his dog mark off his scent to try and draw my companion out. Familiar smells will provide a beacon to animals letting them know it’s safe.
A few days prior I was so close to seeing him again! We went over to the graveyard and a State Trooper called in to say he just saw Hudson run across 4 lanes of the I-84 highway! Another caller said he was spotted by Danbury Hospital. Hudson was seen numerous times but by the time the Warden or I appeared he was already gone. A shadow moving through the area leaving a trail of nothingness behind. It was all so disheartening but then a major break.
Days 6 & 7 – It’s Thursday and I can no longer neglect my responsibilities. So with a heavy heart I return to work determined to get back to Danbury. Leads are still rolling in but they have begun to diminish. While home I make more flyers in batches of 100 and leave Friday night on a late night train to Danbury. Patrick is back again, by my side and we do our vicious cycle of walking the railroad tracks, graveyard and to the police station.
Nancy has mercy on me and lets me borrow one of her cars. She’s a dear friend and work associate who convinces her Fiancée to drive all the way from Westport to Danbury to drop off the vehicle. Patrick and I decided to head over to the railroad tracks again where there is a housing authority complex near exit 6. We had walked past the row of apartments a few times but were unsure if we should even bother. This place was so far off the beaten path I wondered if Hudson would just run along quickly. Posters in hand I drive up to 3 teenage kids outside. I hand them a flyer and go a step further offering a reward for spotting and a bigger prize for capturing Hudson safely. One kid is brave enough to not let an outsider throw out false promises and asks “well what’s the reward?” I say 50 bucks they say 100 and I say deal. We seal it with a box of Dunkin Donuts and cartons of chocolate milk as another incentive. Making that deal was the best thing I could’ve done but didn’t know it at the time.
Day – 8 A woman from my building reached out to me after being tagged in my Facebook post. She used to work for one of the major news networks and called over to a local affiliate in Danbury. They quickly picked up the story and announced Hudson’s disappearance during coverage of the kids’ spring break segment. Mr. Scott Hanley of ABC who is an animal lover himself took time after the weather forecast to put Hudson’s photo up and issued an alert with my contact info. So many people went above and beyond in Danbury, CT and I am so thankful.
However a point of frustration did come when getting the big retail stores to post on their community boards. For example I pleaded with a manager at the Super Walmart to let me tack up a poster. I had been in there earlier in the week buying my paper stock and the right kind of staples for posting flyers onto trees and other hard surfaces. I explained in detail my situation and the manager still decided to bring in an even bigger manager for special permission. After convincing them how important Hudson was to me they finally agreed. I handed over the flyer with hope in my eyes but never circled back to see if they even posted it.
Later on I asked sweet, sweet Nancy if I could keep the car through Sunday and by now I’m exhausted. Mentally and physically I’ve died and been resurrected as a full blown Zombie! Hudson became my obsession and I began to feel like I failed him somehow. He was not confirmed dead but my heart began to prepare for the loss. I needed to know or I would forever be haunted by this situation. So I keep going and I drive past an art school where I see a woman emptying the trash. I drive over and explain my story then hand her a flyer. She informs me she and her sister watched the coverage from the weatherman and people in her neighborhood had also let her know about Hudson. We decide to exchange numbers.
My nerves are shot, so much money has been spent and I’m at a loss for where to drive next. Later in the day more friends from NYC arrive and let their dogs piss all over to mark their territory. Sorry but remembering this bit makes me chuckle. It sounds disgusting but you will thank me later for the advice if you ever lose your furry friend. Plus I couldn’t protest if I wanted since my gas tank was running on fumes.
Days 9 & 10– Before heading back into work on Monday I spend my Sunday searching frantically for Hudson. No dice. However I get a call from the art school lady who claims to have seen my dog running scared into the woods by her apartment. She informs us she actually lives in the housing authority complex by the railroad tracks. We decide to head over and Bob comes up with the genius idea of filling a small crate with our clothes and placing Hudson’s doggie blanket on top of the crate. The scent may draw him in. We set it behind the woman’s place and I reluctantly head home for work in the morning. Bob helps me drop off the borrowed car to Nancy and he drives me back into the city. We kiss briefly then part ways. That night I cried myself to sleep only to be awakened at 2:03am Tuesday morning. Hope came suddenly and resurgence swiftly from that phone call.
Day 11 – Hudson had slowed down to a limp and was walking behind the woman’s property at the apartment complex! She took a handful of cat food, threw it into the crate and Hudson walked right in. Her son picked up the crate out of the rain and placed him gingerly into the kitchen. I frantically call Laura and Bob to retrieve him and they take him to the 24hr. emergency veterinarian. The ER doctors reveal Hudson lost 17lbs in 10days, had a 3×4 gash on his left hip that was now a loose flap of skin and it was slightly infected. Bob and I FaceTime during the process while tears streamed down my face.
Things I found out later – The Friday before Hudson was found another dog with the same exact coloring as him was lost. Charlie was lost that morning and found in the evening. It caused some confusion with the townspeople who assumed the dog had been found and my flyers were old. Also my friend Kerstin from prep school had a friend traveling from NYC back to Massachusetts and saw Hudson sprint across the I-84 highway. State troopers had stopped traffic and were trying to trying to catch him.
My 11 day ordeal ended positive. When I first laid eyes on Hudson we both cried. He barked and moaned deep in his throat and wagged his tail letting me know he was fine but had missed me. Since then I’ve paid for more training aka puppy counseling to help Hudson overcome loud noises. Often times when we are in the park and a lot of people are around I will keep him on a leash. Just in case he decides to run another Greyhound race without me. Thankfully Bob and I are stronger than ever after he showed me such grace, love and support when Hudson went missing. I realized my love for Hudson made the love of my life appreciate our relationship even more. For all those who have a furry friend, take care of them just like they take care of you.