N.S. dog tracker reflects on successful search on P.E.I.

When trying to get the attention of an overexcited or scared dog, a bag of chips is a good way to go, says dog tracker Mike Chapman — who had recently been on P.E.I.

"I always use a bag of chips because I don't think there's a dog in the world that doesn't know what a potato chip tastes like and they love them," Chapman said.

He is a trained missing animal response technician from Wilmot, N.S., and was speaking about his experiences looking for lost dogs with CBC's Island Morning on Wednesday.

Chapman, who is retired after spending 27 years in the military, said he began helping others find their lost dogs as a community service.

He was on Prince Edward Island recently to help find a dog named Sailor, who went missing around Nov. 15. Sailor is a white, mixed-breed female who usually lives in the Bedeque area. She was staying with relatives near Kensington when she got out.

Volunteers quickly worked together to try and spot the dog. Chapman said he was called in and the organization was excellent.

Submitted by Charlene Cain

"That was a good search and I'll tell you one thing, the people over there are incredible," Chapman said.

"They did everything that I asked of them and, you know, they had co-ordinators for grid searches and they had a media co-ordinator and the people that came forth to volunteer was just incredible."

Chapman also had advice for the volunteers to make sure that sightings didn't become lost chances to recover Sailor.

He taught calming techniques to the volunteers and gave advice like staying in their vehicles during the search, avoiding eye contact, backing away and getting low to be less threatening.

The goal was to call the sightings in to allow the owner and Chapman to get in close.

Submitted by Leah Noye

Chapman said he spent a lot of the time on the Island tracking Sailor across muddy fields. He also said it took some time to differentiate between Sailor's tracks and wandering coyotes.

Sailor found

Sailor was reunited with her owner after Chapman and another volunteer herded her over a bridge and toward her home.

"We had her mother sitting in her car in the driveway, so when we were able to push her onto the bridge [Salior] recognized the driveway," he said. 

"She ran in. Her mom got out of the car. Did the calming techniques I taught her and the dog came right to her."

Sailor was then taken to a vet on Nov. 22, almost a full week after she had gone missing. Her condition was deemed pretty good considering all that time, according to a Facebook post.

This filled me right up with tears. I didn't even know what to say. — Mike Chapman

 

For Chapman, it was the end of one search and on to the next. He said he gets calls all the time to come help look for missing dogs. He only asks to be paid for his expenses while searching.

"I don't charge at all. It's a community service," Chapman said.

"It's big business in Western Canada and it's huge business in the United States … I just provide community service for what I thought was just going to be the Annapolis Valley and, so far, I've been in all the Maritime provinces."

Organizers raised money to thank Chapman 

In thanks for all the searching Chapman had been doing on P.E.I., organizers put a call out for donations through social media and had a donation bucket at their headquarters.

Submitted by Leah Noye

In the end, they were able to surprise Chapman with enough money to get him a specific drone he was looking to get to help in his future searches.

"They contacted me and told me. This filled me right up with tears. I didn't even know what to say," Chapman said.

Chapman said he is already inquiring with Transport Canada to get things going on his drone certification.

But first, he's going through his inbox to find out where he is off to next to help find a missing dog — with a trusty bag of chips.

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