2011-06-29 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

To tweak John Donne’s 17th century poem-“No man is an island, entirely of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a piece of the main. No dog is an island either, nor should any Border Collie wind up stuck on one.”

Kirek the Border Collie was recovered in Lindenhurst after 15 days “on the lam.” A kayaker noticed her marooned on an uninhabited island. It took the cooperation of “the continent” to bring Kirek home safely. How did the furry fugitive who didn’t like the water get to the island? She won’t say.

On June 2 while her owners were in Georgia at an agility trial with their older Border Collies, Kirek, a youngster, also accomplished in agility, squeezed out the door at her “relatives’” house on S. Broadway. The escape was a bit out of character for Kirek because she has had sleepovers there many times before. (Lesson #1- No matter how well-trained, dogs are still dogs. Unpredictable behavior can be triggered by a whim or a scent.)

Hamilton. Hamilton. 
Kirek, moments after being rescued from Indian Island. Kirek, moments after being rescued from Indian Island. Kirek took off north and was seen crossing Montauk Highway, headed west. That was the only true sighting until she was spotted to the south on Indian Island two weeks later. Man-made Indian Island, created as part of the abandoned American Venice real estate canal project in the 1920s, is 87 acres of reeds, ticks and marshes, but no people. It is an undeveloped Suffolk County park, mostly a bird sanctuary. What was Kirek eating and drinking? She lost over three pounds while gone but she’s not divulging her diet secrets.

If you live in the Lindenhurst/Copiague area, you may have seen Kirek’s lost poster plastered all over town. Kristin, Animal Control Officer at Babylon Shelter, knew Kirek and her Mom Kathleen from agility competitions so her photo was featured here in “Pets” on June 9th in lieu of the shelter dogs for adoption. Lindenhurst Patch also published several updates. Kirek lives in Huntington. She went missing in Lindenhurst while her owners were over a thousand miles away. Kirek’s Aunt Kim and Uncle Henry started an intense search immediately while her owners drove home as fast as possible. Meanwhile friends and agility networks helped post and search.

Leggo Leggo Bonnie of Team Vivi offered many suggestions including a wider radius of flyer postings, tracking dogs, daily visits to all town shelters, notification of vets in Nassau/Suffolk, a “Find Toto” phone blast plus a “Help Bring Kirek Home” Facebook page. The Facebook page quickly raised funds for “Find Toto” calls via a Chip-In collection, yet days went by with no legitimate sightings. (Lesson #2- When a dog is lost, there is no such thing as too many posters. You may have to tack up 10,000 to make a lasting impression on the right person. It only takes one observant call to bring your dog home.)

Kirek had on a collar with tags and is micro-chipped. Although the pup was a bit skittish, those who knew her were beginning to wonder if someone had taken her out of the area or if she were hiding somewhere, injured after being hit by a car. I couldn’t help but think that when I hung posters at Venetian Shores and saw all the tall phragmites. With so much publicity, it was hard to believe Kirek had just vanished, especially since her family was out searching everyday.

At sundown, June 16th, the kayaker called about seeing a dog that resembled Kirek on the Island. Long ago, there was a wooden foot bridge to Indian Island at the Santa Barbara Canal vicinity, but according to an article by Mary Cascone, Town of Babylon historical archivist, the only evidence now is a remnant of cement supports. The searchers needed a boat.

The homes on Inlet Drive overlook Indian Island from their backyards. Owner Robert and Henry spoke to residents. The same person who lent them a canoe mentioned that a dog had been over there at least a week. They spent Friday combing the island, even brought along her Border Collie siblings. They saw paw prints and got a glimpse but Kirek took off which would not be uncommon for a spooked dog in “survival mode.”

Late Friday, Kristin met the Bay Constable so they could deliver the shelter’s dog trap to the bay side of the Island. Robert got instructions to set the trap and waded in the hip-deep water to carry it to a clearing. He baited it with a chicken cutlet soaked in barbecue sauce. Hours later, the neighbors could hear a dog barking which was a hopeful sign because Kirek would bark when crated at agility trials. It was too risky to try to get her in the dark, and too dangerous to transport her in the trap by canoe. At 6 a.m. Saturday morning, Robert was able to slip two leashes and a life jacket around Kirek before taking her from the trap. Then they paddled her to the mainland. Exhausted, she fell asleep in the truck.

Kathleen says Kirek is back to herself, taunting her siblings. Besides the slight weight loss and only 15-20 unattached ticks (because Frontline really works), the vet thinks Kirek is fine. She is on antibiotics as a precaution and will be re-tested for tick diseases. Time will tell if being in a trap during thunderstorms has an effect. One theory is that Kirek may have jumped or fallen from an Inlet Drive bulkhead and swam to the island because she couldn’t get back up.

Thankfully Kirek is back home because so many people played a part in her recovery. Just as important, she is safe because of the posters and persistence of the people who love her. That is Lesson #3.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: Two special needs pups are featured this week. “Leggo” #94099 is a tiny Pit pup found missing a back paw. The shelter had his leg amputated and padded when he was neutered. He is ready for his forever friend.

“Hamilton” the patriotic Pug #94162 is being treated for a skin condition and a urinary tract infection. He is young and super friendly. There are many cats, kittens and Pit mixes waiting for homes.

Male: white Cockerpoo in Cage 1; “Maverick” the yellow Lab in Cage 2.

Female: “Lola” the Beagle; “Reina” the Shepherd/ Chow found at Belmont Lake in Cage 38; “Honey” the Husky; “Cindy” the Shepherd/Lab in Cage 48.

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