Snickers the Labradoodle is back home

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 12:32 PM

Snickers, the on-the-lam Labradoodle dog, was found in High Point and is back home with his human family in Greensboro.
He’s a little worse off — both physically and psychologically — from his seven-week ordeal, but he’s safe and on-the-mend, said owner Rebecca Pugh.
Snickers escaped in Kernersville and subsequently was spotted in High Point in the Skeet Club Road, Shadybrook, Oakview and Penny Road areas. He finally was trapped Monday morning near a residence on Spencer Road, off Penny Road. Barbed wire from a horse pasture in Kernersville was wrapped around and embedded in him, and he had lost so much weight his hip bones were sticking up from the top of his body.
Pugh took him immediately to a veterinarian, and now he’s getting antibiotics for his wounds and plenty of tender loving care for his body and psyche.
The chocolate-colored Labrador retriever-poodle mix escaped Dec. 24 in Kernersville. He was on his way to a family in Thomasville, and he was to be a Christmas present for the children in the family. During all the excitement of getting him to his new home, Snickers spooked and ran away.
Pugh, a breeder and owner of Good Day Doodles, raised and socialized Snickers for his first five-six months before sending him to Maryland, where he was a therapy dog for a child with autism. The Maryland family had a change of circumstances, and they returned him to Pugh, who found the Thomasville home for him.  
Almost immediately after he escaped, Pugh began searching for him. She printed posters, placed huge ads offering a $1,000 reward in newspapers, placed listings on Craig’s List and started a Facebook page. Soon the Facebook page had 500 followers, and an army of volunteers organized daily searches to help Pugh with her efforts. They tracked down every lead and responded to nearly 50 sightings.
Pugh credits all those volunteers for saving Snickers.
“Every day people on Facebook would get together and develop a plan for the day and continued to support me and said, ‘Don’t give up,’ and they took their own time,” Pugh said. “People in High Point went so far above and beyond, it was heartwarming.”
Bobby Farrington contacted Pugh early in the search and said it was his hobby to help locate lost dogs. Volunteers had narrowed the area where Snickers was bedding, and Farrington decided where to set humane traps, then slept in his truck at nights so he could watch the traps to be sure wild animals didn’t get in them.
Snickers finally entered the humane trap and was found at 7:30 a.m. Monday by volunteer Miranda Hawkins, who sat with him in the rain for an hour until Pugh arrived. The trap was near the Spencer Road home of  Daren Lyons, who received the $1,000 reward for his help.
In the course of searching for Snickers, a gentle dog, Pugh learned that he would not come to people and would bolt as part of the fight-or-flight reaction of animals that are afraid. Snickers chose flight, and his condition was called “going native,” or reverting to an undomesticated state, as if a switch had flipped in his brain.
When Pugh arrived at the cage-trap, Snickers showed no sign of recognizing her and kept his head turned away, so she sat by his cage and spoke softly to him.
“I started talking quietly, telling him we loved him and missed him, and told him all we had been going through to find him,” Pugh said. “I didn’t see any recognition, so I started talking about my children and using their names, and I saw his ears twitch, and then he turned his head straight and sniffed in the air, and once he sniffed in the air, he turned his head real quick and put his nose on my fingers and gave two big, hard sniffs, then jumped up on all fours and started crying and circling.
“I could tell the switch had flipped back; he wanted to go home, and I cried like a baby. We (Pugh and Hawkins) got to see the whole miracle of recognition, and it was a miracle.”
Now, in addition to his physical wounds, Snickers has separation anxiety, and he cries when Pugh leaves the room. When she leaves the house, he sits by the door until she returns. 
Snickers will stay with Pugh and her family for good, and she plans to work with NC Pet Partners and take him to hospitals, schools and shelters to offer people who need it comfort and support.
And, Snickers now has a collar with a GPS device so that he can be found should he ever escape again.

vknopfler@hpe.com / 888-3601