By John Toole
---- — SALEM — Bear is back.
Granite State Dog Recovery trapped the runaway collie-cattle dog mix, missing for nine weeks, on the deck of a Salem home Thursday night.
His owner, Diana Chamberlin of Nottingham, helped with the capture.
“I ran and shut the gate while his ‘mother’ went inside,” volunteer Bear hunter Holly Mokrzecki said. “We cornered him on the deck of the house.”
It was a dramatic end to a search that lasted more than two months.
“I was just shocked,” Chamberlin said. “I couldn’t believe he was there.”
Chamberlin was afraid Bear would jump a 4-foot fence and escape.
“At first he was very scared, running from me and looking for an exit,” she said. “Then I talked to him, he seemed to slow down and acted passive.”
Chamberlin was part of a six-person stakeout, with two others arriving as backup.
“We all hung onto him,” Chamberlin said. “He sat and we had eight leashes around his neck.”
Thus ended a nine-week adventure for Bear that began when he escaped from firefighters at an accident scene on Route 101 in Raymond.
“He went, like, 28 miles, back and forth, all over the place,” Chamberlin said.
The hunt riveted dog lovers in Southern New Hampshire and beyond who tracked developments on the GSDT’s Facebook page.
Mokrzecki estimated volunteers put 1,000 hours into the widespread search for the 4-year-old dog.
Since Sunday, they had camped out 12 hours a day in the Martin Street neighborhood where a sighting led them to set up four traps and trail cameras.
Two traps were at the home on Martin Street.
“Bear was coming up on the deck, getting into someone’s garbage,” said Mokrzecki, GSDR’s founder. “We baited the traps and waited about 30 minutes. He came out of the woods approximately 7:30 (Thursday) night.”
There was relief for Bear and his owner.
“He was hungry right away,” Chamberlin said.
Meatballs and dog food nourished Bear.
“He didn’t wag his tail until Henry showed up,” she said. “He was real happy when he arrived.”
That would be Henry Ladner, her boyfriend, who was in the traffic accident with Bear.
After his capture, Bear was taken to the Rockingham Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Windham.
“He’s in good condition,” Mokrzecki said. “He lost about 12 pounds, had a couple of porcupine quills and a few hundred ticks. All that is curable.”
Chamberlin said Bear was happy to see all the neighbors, but their cat, Carl, did not recognize the dog and has been hissing at him.
Mokrzecki credited a group effort for the dog’s capture and acknowledged nine weeks is a long time for a dog to wander the countryside and fend for himself.
Volunteers concentrated their efforts on Salem after Hampstead Animal Control Officer Sheila Johannesen alerted the group and Salem police of a coyote sighting.
Mokrzecki thanked Salem police for their efforts.
“It has been a long process,” Salem Animal Control Officer Corie Bliss said. “We were very excited and shocked he had survived this long.”
Bear’s habits kept him on the loose.
“He’s kind of like a ghost dog who was seen at night for brief periods of time,” Bliss said.
Turns out it takes a village to rescue a Bear.
“It was a group effort,” Bliss said. “The public would call and give us pointers.”
Chamberlin was thankful for Granite State Dog Recovery’s help, that of police, as well as the public’s interest and support.
“People would call and tell me they saw Bear,” she said. “We’re very, very grateful to all those people.”