Krueger stated, “When I was at home, she was attached to me.” I weaned her off of her anti-anxiety medications over the course of two weeks of tether training, and her pacing decreased. She was even willing to emerge from hiding for brief periods on her own.”
After two months living with Kruger and her two family dogs, Zelda eventually waggled her tail. She started barking and playing around four months old. However, Krueger was aware that she had done all she could for Zelda and that it was now time to let her go.
“As Zelda gained more self-assurance, I decided it was time for her to find a permanent home,” Krueger explained. “As a dog foster parent, you are expected to help them adjust and then say goodbye as they go on to live their best lives.”
Krueger drove Zelda 65 kilometers to her new residence, but breaking up with her was more difficult than she anticipated.
“I had to pull over because I couldn’t see through my tears,” said Krueger. “For the first time in my twelve years of dog fostering, I felt as though I had given my dog away.”
After ten days, Krueger received a call that would have terrified any dog owner: Zelda had gone missing. Krueger immediately hopped in his car and began searching for her.
START (Search, Track, and Recovery Team), an all-volunteer dog search team, had also been informed of Zelda’s disappearance. The team installed feeding stations and trail cameras throughout the region, and sighting reports of Zelda began to pour in. As the temperature fell below zero, Krueger refused to abandon her search.
“On the coldest days, I spent the most time searching because I was desperate to find Zelda,” Krueger explained. “[I] spent hours in the bitter cold following dog tracks through ravines, frozen marshes, and fields.”
More than two months later, Krueger learned that Zelda had been located in Minneapolis, halfway between her new home and her foster home. Then, Krueger learned that Zelda was attempting to return to her.
Two weeks later, Krueger was informed that Zelda had been spotted close to her residence. She placed feeding stations around her home and began dumping dirty laundry on the front lawn in hopes that the odor would entice Zelda to return.
A couple informed Krueger that they had been caring for a terrified dog resembling Zelda. However, Krueger did not want to get her hopes up after waiting so long.
“Even though I desperately wanted this dog to be Zelda, I knew that if there was a lost, terrified dog on the streets, we had to help it,” Krueger said. Even if it was not the dog I knew, loved, and sorely missed.
Finally, the couple was able to capture the malnourished dog in the wee hours of the morning and notified Krueger. Inside the cage, Krueger discovered a small, anxious dog that bore little resemblance to Zelda.
A quick scan of the dog’s microchip confirmed the impossibility when the manager of START arrived. After more than three months on the run, Zelda had returned home.
“It was a miracle, and in the face of a miracle, what else can you do? I sobbed,” Krueger said. “I expressed regret to Zelda for failing to recognize her. I had not physically contacted her in 97 days. I reassured her that she was returning permanently and that I never ceased searching for her.”
Zelda has adjusted well at home and is overjoyed to be reunited with her mother.