A very recently placed Bernese Mountain Dog (BARC dog) got loose in Lafayette, Colorado this afternoon (2/15) around 4:00. He has only been in his new home since Saturday, so is very unfamiliar with the area. He is probably very afraid and is unlikely to approach anyone. He may respond to Gus or Beemer. He has typical tri-color Bernese Mountain Dog markings, weighs about 90 pounds, and is not wearing a collar or any identification.


"I want to share some further information about this situation. Gus is now back home with his foster mom Kelli. We have decided that this was just not the right placement for Gus or the family. Needless to say the family is not very happy with us about it..... but I have to do what I feel is best for the dog and Gus is going to have some extra baggage to deal with after being loose and on his own for this long. We are trying to work with the family to make every one happy in the end, unfortunately that is not looking like it will be possible. He is in very poor physical and emotional condition and it will take some time to get him back where he should be in mind and body. I will let Kelli fill everyone in on the details of Gus's condition. My popularity is in jeopardy AGAIN, but Gus is safe and my conscience clear. Amy Kessler BARC Inc"

"Well, I'm sure that most of you have seen Amy's emails that we recovered Gus from Colorado yesterday. Gus was pulled from a Missouri puppy mill in late 2010, and he spent 2 months in foster care with Chris and I (and of course Jackson, Hilga and Lemon) before being placed in an adoptive home in Lafayette, Colorado. After 3 days in his adoptive home, he got loose and was on the run for 10 days in Erie, CO. I am absolutely thrilled that he is alive and in our hands, albeit very thin and tired. We got back to Kansas City last night around 1:30 a.m., and since our arrival he has had a much needed bath, enjoyed fresh food and water, and taken a lot of naps!

There were several volunteers in Colorado who were just amazing in helping to recover this boy. I especially want to thank Alice Gordon for her efforts in searching, posting fliers and organizing volunteers to search for Gus. She had arranged a large group of Colorado Berner people to come out today and thankfully we didn't end up needing the search party, but we still appreciate the dedication of thosee who committed to help in the search. The adoptive family was also very instrumental in searching and posting fliers.

Many of you understand the challenge faced when trying to locate and capture a dog with a puppy mill history. These dogs will not approach anyone and will run/hide to avoid capture. There had been only a few sightings and Gus was covering a large expanse of land, so I went to Colorado on Wednesday with low expectations. I knew for my presence to make any difference in recovery, we had to find him, I had to get close enough to him for him to recognize me, and then he had to choose to quit running. Obviously, a lot of unlikely variables had to fall into place.

On Friday afternoon, we got the call. Someone who had seen the signs had seen Gus in a field about a mile outside of our search area (north of Jasper for those of you familiar with the search) and called Animal Control, who contacted us. I drove like a mad woman to the location, looking desperately for Animal Control vehicles, but then I saw a big black dog walking across a field a few hundred yards off the road. We got very lucky with the location he was in since there was a fence he could not squeeze through and foliage blocking my approach. I was able to approach the field he was in without him seeing me, and jumped the fence about 30 feet in front of him. He was obviously startled and started to turn away, but he paused when he heard my voice and gave me some serious consideration before turning to trot away from me. At that point I was baby talking him and tried walking away from him, in the direction he was originally headed. He turned and started to follow, but wouldn't get close to me. He began to run again and ran into another field. Animal Control was fabulous, picked me up, then dropped me off behind him and drove up to cut him off. He turned back toward me, this time coming within 20 feet. I quit with the baby talk, gave him a stern correction "ahah" and "stop it", he layed down, and I walked up and put the leash on him. I think the relief on both ends of the leash was significant.

He is very, very thin, and I am not sure how much longer he would have survived on his own. Other than malnutrition, he has some scrapes and some broken toe nails, but we are so grateful he did not suffer any serious or life-threatening injuries. He crossed many busy roads and, as I was told 100 times by "helpful" locals, they have a serious coyote problem out there. He has regressed a bit in his socialization progress, but his relief at being back among a familiar environment is evident. He snuggled right up to Chris when we got home and is currently enjoying the bed. We will, however, have some new issues (on top of the old issues) to work through in order to continue to build his confidence and help him get healthy again.

As Amy said, his adoptive family was not happy with the decision to bring him back to Kansas City. I will say that I firmly believe BARC made the right decision. I will also add, without going into details, that the decision was not based soley on the fact that he got loose, but was based on many components that led us to believe the dog and family were not a good fit for each other and it was not in Gus's best interest to continue in that home.

Anyways, Gus is very, very lucky that all the variables came together that made it possible for us to find him. There are many dogs who have had similar experiences that have not had such happy endings, and regardless of Gus's happy ending, I hope his story serves as another reminder to all of us who rescue, transport, foster or adopt high risk dogs of the constant vigilence needed any time the dog is taken out of a contained environment.

Thank you all for your time, thoughts, prayers, search efforts, networking and everything else that was done in an effort to bring this boy home.

Kelli Cooper
Jackson, Hilga, Lemon and, of course,
BARC Foster Gus Olathe, KS "

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