The Mighty Hercules
by Pam Brand, Kirksville, Missouri, USA

Hercules I want to share my recent experience with the placement of the mighty Hercules (Glasdawn's Mercury Rising - CH Garvin's Zip Drive X CH Glasdawn's Indigo Girl).

I kept this black and white boy out of my accident litter because he just always had my heart. Who can account for such emotions? Despite his unfortunate lack of white on his legs and tail tip, Hercules went out and captured a major on his first show weekend. He went BOW over WB to stand proudly beside the incomparable Maggie as BOS. However, his lack of fore chest and level bite as he developed brought an end to his show adventures.

My love for this little guy with a Herculean heart made me unable to offer him for sale. He was enjoying a life of leisure in my back yard, but I worried that he really deserved more attention than this owner of six dogs could give.

So when a family whose grandmother has one of my dogs called asking if I had any adults to place I reluctantly mentioned him. Apparently, they had often talked that if they could just clone Inky, the grandmother's fluffy tri from an earlier litter of mine, they would have their perfect pet. When they heard I had a two year old male that was his nephew they got really excited. I knew even before I sent pictures that they were going to want him. He really is handsome and a complete charmer. Hercules' prospective new family had three children 7 to 11. The decision was made: I would give my precious boy the gift of a family of his own.

Last Wednesday he bravely boarded his first airplane in Kansas City for the trip to Providence, RI complete with an unavoidable layover and plane change.

That night I got the news no breeder ever wants to hear - Hercules was lost! Offered a potty break at the airport Herc seemed dazed and not in the least responsive to his new owners. When he arrived at his new home one of the family's anxiously waiting children rushed to free him from his crate before mom could even get out of the car, and he bolted! He has a very soft personality and was probably traumatized by the trip.

Despite efforts of an organized group of family and friends combing the area, after 24 hours there had been no sign of him. I was a basket case. He was so devoted to me and I felt like I had abandoned him. I knew he was looking for me, if he was still alive. I had believed I was doing the right thing for my beloved Hercules. Now he was scared and alone or worse.

Well aware that the odds were against me, I decided I had to fly out there to help in the search. Absolutely heartbroken and uncertain what I was going to do when I arrived, I could only pray that he would somehow hear and recognize my voice. While I spent most of day Friday getting to there, the family blanketed the neighborhood of North Providence with posters offering a reward.

North Providence is bordered on the south by Brown University and on the east and west by the streets of Main and Hope. Beyond these busy streets lies downtown Providence, rivers and freeways and to the north - the Atlantic Ocean. How could my little country boy survive alone in this bustling urban environment?

Encouraging news awaited me at the family home. The postman had spotted Hercules that morning. In fact, mom arrived in time to see him herself! Apparently, he sat and watched calmly as the crowd grew around him. Unfortunately, when approached by people calling his name and reaching out to nab him, Hercules again bolted escaping the fingers of one of the searchers by only a few hairs!

Somehow, my resourceful little cardie boy had avoided the terror of city traffic and was alive!! If only I could lay eyes on him, I was certain he would come to me.

Trying to avoid causing a traffic jam, I drove my rental car in slow ever widening circles hoping for a glimpse. I accosted every person I saw with a dog pressing a poster on them. Others across the area were doing the same thing. At one point I knocked on the door of a house whose backyard Hercules had been spotted in. Relating my tale, my voice broke and the tears could not be stopped. This kind lady insisted that the stranger at her door come in and sit down for a few moments to collect herself.

Shy midwestern girls like me often think of cities as unfriendly, uncaring places. While this may be true in some metropolitan areas, it certainly is not the case in North Providence! I was overwhelmed by the kindness I found there as an entire community pitched in to help find my frightened lost dog. While a reward was offered, no one seemed to be motivated by the money. Instead, they truly wanted to help find this little lost dog.

After darkness fell, the family father accompanied me through the streets as I continued to search calling again and again for my "Herky Durky Dude" to come. We even met a pair of college age kids walking their own dogs with poster in hand actively looking for Hercules. As 10pm neared my hope waned and we decided to call it quits for a little bit.

Back at the house I searched the internet for someone with a bloodhound or any tracking dog that might come help. Does anyone know if this has ever been successfully tried? Before I could get very far a call came in - Herc had been spotted again. Out we went with renewed spirits, but again he did not respond to my calls.

At about 1am we reluctantly decided to try to get some sleep and start again at dawn. At 2am another call came in. A lady letting her cat in for the evening spotted him in the alley behind her house. Clad in her robe and slippers and armed with a cell phone and a flashnight, she hurried down to the street corner to find a poster and call. We were on the move again. My head was pounding and my voice grew hoarse and weak with the calling and still nothing! Was he so spooked that he didn't know my voice?

Suddenly, from three blocks away our informer called us back. She had her flashlight trained on the dog she thought was Hercules in a neighbor's back yard. I ran the three blocks back the way we had come. (Those of you who know me, know this is not a common event!) I then approached slowly, my heart in my throat. Yes. Yes! It was indeed Hercules! Again he sat calmly beyond a perennial border. I carefully stepped over and bent down to call him. Like the wind he moved twenty yards away . . . away from me! In disbelief I screamed, "Hercules, NO!" He stopped dead in his tracks and turned. He knew that tone of voice! I dropped to my knees and called for him to come. The next thing I knew he was in my arms whimper-talking to me and licking my face! I have never felt such relief and utter joy! It was a moment that I will replay in my mind over and over again for the rest of my life.

Hercules with Priscilla and his uncle Inky.

My return flight was not booked until Monday. It was non-refundable and non-changeable. So Hercules' new family invited me to stay and join them for a day at the family summer home in Nonquit, MA. I jumped on the opportunity to help Hercules recover from his trauma and adjust to his new circumstances. I even got to see his uncle Inky again!

What had started as a scary trip into the unknown for both of us, was now literally a day at the beach watching the beautiful sail boats in the bay. Back in Providence on Sunday, Hercules was surrounded by well-wishers who knew his amazing story at a soccer game and a neighborhood block party. He's still a little shaky about getting in the car, but I think he's on his way to a wonderful life.

September 2003