If physical distancing was a sport, the grand champion might be a dog right here in Alberta.
Fittingly renamed Elusa, the pooch is now warming up to the folks at Second Chance Animal Rescue Society after avoiding capture for nearly a month.
Training coordinator Terra MacLean tells CBC News the female dog, likely a Labrador and possibly crossed with a pitbull, was first spotted near Grasslands, northeast of Edmonton, “in the middle of nowhere.”
“It was just this dog that people kept driving by and seeing on the side of the road,” MacLean said Friday, two days after Elusa was captured.
“A couple of people had gotten out and tried to like, ‘Here puppy, puppy,’ and she was having none of it; she’d just scamper away.”
Passersby noticed the young dog was thin, so began leaving food. While she ate the food, she wouldn’t approach anyone.
Locals tried unsuccessfully to rescue the dog.
“Community members had tried to chase her down on a skidoo, several skidoos, and she could outrun them,” MacLean said. “We heard other community members tried to chase her down on horses and couldn’t do it.”
The four-legged fugitive never went too far though.
“She wouldn’t run away; she would always come back to the same spot which was just this approach in a field in a ditch,” MacLean said. “No shelter, no water, no food, there was no reason for her to stay there.”
On April 14 SCARS joined the chase and set traps for the dog.
“I don’t know if it was nervous or wise to the operation but it was having nothing to do with the live traps,” MacLean said.
SCARS asked for help from K9 Recovery, an organisation that specializes in tracking and rescuing elusive dogs.
“She (K9 recovery) was out there for a week; she set up a pen; she stayed in her truck. She was trying to build a bond with the dog, feeding her a little bit multiple times a day and nothing,” MacLean said.
After three weeks without any luck, they consulted a veterinarian and decided to sedate her to aid in the capture.
“We gave her a treat with the medication in it, she ate it and she got maybe drowsy, she never ever did actually become fully sedated,” MacLean said.
However four people using nets were eventually able to corral the dog into a pen.
Elusa proved to be the biggest challenge SCARS has ever faced.
“The longest rescue we were ever on was like three days so to have a dog avoid capture for over three and a half weeks is quite a feat,” MacLean said.
She expected the standoffishness to continue once the dog was taken to the shelter but it wasn’t to be so.
“Now that she’s caught, miracle upon miracles, she’s the friendliest little dog ever,” MacLean said. “Absolutely loves everybody, wants cuddles, jumps up for pets and kisses.
“I have no idea why she avoided people for so long.”
Elusa may be experiencing some separation anxiety but she is adjusting to her new surroundings.
“She got a vet check and she’s fine, so we’ll get her vaccinated and spayed, and just continue to let her settle in a little bit and then she’ll go up for adoption,” MacLean said.