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2013-01-30 / Columnists

Pets pets pets

Time-Sensitive Message… We interrupt this week’s regularly scheduled column to ask you to VOTE for “Sisu.” Remember Jin Jin? She’s the Afghan Hound who won last year’s competition at the New Yorkie Runway Fashion Show which was a benefit for Angel On A Leash, the Westminster Kennel Club therapy dog program. Well, Jin Jin would LOVE to pass her tiara to another Afghan Hound finalist. Sisu is a multi-talented therapy dog too. Sisu, a retired show dog, was born in Finland. His name means “determination never give up” in Finnish. He even sings opera. Sounds like a tenor. Please go to and cast your vote for Sisu; then spread the word because voting ends at midnight, Jan. 31.

Back to Babylon…Big Rescue News, really big! Finally a Super Storm Sandy happy ending. As they say, it “takes a Village,” but in this case, it also takes a welloiled, “secret” trap, which you shall see as you read this lost dog saga.

Vote for Sisu. Vote for Sisu. Petrified “Nikki,” who had been on the run for three months, is back home and warm, though 19 pounds lighter. This is thanks to the trapping expertise of Kristin and Jill, Animal Control Officers (ACOs) at Babylon Town Shelter, the persistence of her loving owners and the help of many kind folks who never met the missing North Babylon Husky mix.

On the evening of Nov. 1, Nikki, a four-year-old brown Husky mix adopted from North Shore Animal League as a puppy, got out of her yard through a piece of fence that may have been broken by the storm. She lives behind Sunset City in North Babylon, and had never escaped before.

When Nikki didn’t scratch on the door to ask back in, her mom Marie got worried. The family raced outdoors to search for her with flashlights, because, if you recall, we were all without LIPA juice. Nikki had vanished without a trace. They plastered their area with flyers, and received calls but no sightings materialized when they got there. Nikki’s family stayed in contact with the shelter.

Nikki in the dog trap Nikki in the dog trap Several weeks later, Christine Mott, one of the founders of “Lost and Found Pets of Long Island” (LAFPOLI) saw a Nikki flyer and contacted the dog’s family about posting her on their website and Facebook page. In recent years, Christine and her sister Elaine’s LAFPOLI network have been responsible for many “happy tears” pet reunions. Once a lost pet is listed on the internet, the owner’s range of vision goes global. Sightings and assistance come from further away. An online presence and flyer blitz remain the best vehicles to spread the word that your pet is lost.

About three weeks ago, a man walking between Stop & Shop and Pet Smart in West Babylon near Montauk Highway called the family to say he saw a skinny dog, wearing a collar, matching the description, sleeping in the woods between the stores. Skittish, she disappeared. Kristin advised the family to bring Bruno, their Shepherd mix, to the site because panicked, lost dogs often relax when they sense their canine housemates. They did; but Nikki didn’t show.

It seems over the three months Nikki had meandered south, through the Belmont Lake wooded corridor to Southards Pond to Argyle Lake area and eventually holed up in wetlands surrounding Stop & Shop. At times, she would step into the adjoining residential streets so there would be calls. This trail is a five-mile drive from her home, yet closer when measuring via Husky trek.

Other sightings in that vicinity included a grocery worker who saw Nikki slip through a hole in the fence at 2 a.m., and appearances at a nearby abandoned house. Kristin and Jill stepped up surveillance. At one point the family got there in time to see Nikki bolt in the distance. She was in panic/survival mode, and no one was going to get close enough to grab her. It was time to set a dog trap, since even panicked dogs will venture into a trap when hungry enough. Nikki should have been ravenous.

The ACOs set a trap near the abandoned house, and when they went to check it, found the remnants of 18 hamburgers outside which meant that Face book do-gooders had interfered with any chance of luring a hungry Nikki inside. Kristin urged the Facebook followers to stay away, and suggested they help in other ways such as posting flyers. Some did. In the meantime, Kristin set a second “secret” blanket-camouflaged trap in the woods; even Nikki’s family was unaware of it.

The afternoon before recovery, Kristin found that the food had been eaten but the trap didn’t trip, so she WD-40ed (like that verb?) the frozen mechanism, before baiting the trap again. Still, this was a good omen. Nikki lay waiting in the wooded wings.

On her way to work at 7 a.m. Jan. 25, Kristin stopped to check the “secret” trap. Nikki was inside, growling, lunging, circling, still panicked. She called every number she had for her owners. When they arrived, the Husky was still growling and panicked until Kristin told Nikki’s father Kenny to take off his hat and glove to let her smell him through the trap. Remember- Nikki had been on her own for 86 days.

Instant transformation. See the Babylon Shelter Facebook post below and Kristin’s 48-second video easier viewed directly on Babylon Shelter’s Facebook page. Her hands were trembling too much from the cold and overwhelming emotion to be able to film anymore of the reunion. (And, yes, she knew the safe way to remove Nikki from the trap while they were still in the woods.)

This is a comment from Babylon Animal Shelter on Jan. 25, 2013 2:17 p.m.

What does the reunion of a dog on the run for three months and her family look like? The moment you all have been waiting for. Nikki finally went into one of the traps that we had set. This is the moment of her coming out and seeing her family. This situation has taught us all on this end the power of communication, the internet and the love you all have for these animals. Thank you to all that reached out and helped us. But the biggest thank you goes to Nikki’s family for staying in touch with us multiple times a day, no matter what hour it was; for having the trust to follow the measures that we knew it would take to keep her in the area and, in the end, get her safely in a trap.!/photo.php?v=10200239 500727691&set=vb.166993379996933&type=2&theater

Oh, when you are done crying, please vote for Sisu. We hope to sustain the Afghan Hound reign.

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