Where’s Waldo?

Everyone remembers the ‘Where’s Waldo’ children’s book character, the tall skinny boy you need to find hidden among many other characters in different scenes, but the Waldo I’m about to tell you about is real and for five weeks the question ‘Where’s Waldo?’ was not a laughing matter.  It was a life or death situation and if it hadn’t been for Ilga, her compassion for animals and her amazing gift, he might very well not be alive today.

The Waldo I’m talking about is a small, 12 lb., black and tan miniature pinscher puppy, aka, ‘minpin’, who came from a puppy mill in TX.  Animal cruelty investigators took him and all the other dogs from the owner.  Eventually he and the other minpins found their way to foster homes in MN through Minpin Rescue until they could be placed in permanent homes.

Waldo was adopted at the beginning of September by a young woman who I’ll call Anne.  A few days later he ran away from her home.  Anne posted a lost & found ad on Craig’s List and she soon began receiving calls from people who were seeing him.  She asked for their address and said she’d be right over but not once did she ever respond to anyone’s home.  Anne obviously wasn’t interested in getting Waldo back.  In fact, a few days after he’d run away she told Minpin Rescue that since she didn’t have the dog anymore she wanted her money back and if he was caught she didn’t want him back.  She’d already bought another dog.

For the first two weeks Minpin volunteers from all over the metro area combed the neighborhoods where sightings were being called in from, knocking on doors, and distributing flyers.  Three more weeks went by with sightings continuing to be called in to Anne from her Craig’s List ad and to one of our volunteers who’s name and phone number were on the flyers, but Anne wouldn’t respond to anyone’s home who’d called and volunteers lived too far away to respond quickly enough before Waldo was gone again.  He was in survival mode so he didn’t trust anyone and wouldn’t come close enough for anyone to touch him let alone grab him.  During week 5 I went to several homes who’d called in sightings of him.  They allowed me to set up live traps in their yards and agreed to keep an eye on them and re-bait them in the hopes that his stomach would get the better of him and we’d finally catch him.  The weather was turning cold with freezing rain and snow and he wouldn’t be able to survive much longer.  Minpins have thin hair coats and are not outside dogs.  We were beginning to loose hope.

Saturday, October 10th, I received Ilga’s e-mail newsletter.  The timing was uncanny.  Being somewhat a believer in animal communication yet still a little skeptical, I figured, why not?  What more have we got to lose?  We were desperate so I sent her an urgent e-mail.  The next day Ilga called me while I and other volunteers were meeting in a parking lot to go door knocking with flyers again.  Ilga told me that during the short time Waldo had been in Anne’s home he’d done something that upset her so much that she screamed at him.  As emotionally sensitive as he is, she not only hurt his ears but his feelings, his pride, his self esteem and his self confidence.  Waldo became frightened of Anne and didn’t trust her anymore so the first opportunity he saw to get away, he took it and ran.  Ilga said that he was still alive, in a neighborhood northeast of Anne’s house, and gave me a street intersection.  When we got there we saw Waldo but he saw us and took off.  I called Ilga again and this time she described a blue shed, a building with an awning on it with wood underneath where Waldo sought shelter at night.  She said it was on the north side of the stream and that there was a tan house or building on a large property with a lake behind it.  We searched for six more hours but never saw him again and finally all headed home, dejected.

At 3:37 a.m. Monday morning I got a call from a man who said he had Waldo.  He’d woken up at 3 a.m. with a bad toothache and then heard barking and crying.  Upon going outside with a flashlight to investigate, he found Waldo across the street in one of the live traps.  It was snowing hard and blowing and temperatures were below freezing.  The timing could not have been better.  Waldo would not have made it through the night in that weather.  I was dressed and out the door in less than 5 minutes and by 5 a.m. I had Waldo safely back home with me.

Later that same evening I went back to the neighborhood to pick up the live traps.  I brought Waldo along so everyone who’d seen him and had a trap in their yard could finally meet him up close and personal and have closure to this story.  When I spoke to the man who’d found Waldo I told him everything that Ilga had described to me.  I wish I’d had a camera to capture the look of absolute utter astonishment on his face.  It was priceless!  He lives in a blue house on the north side of the stream at the intersection she’d told us to go to.  He has a blue garage with an awning and wood underneath it.  A house next to him has a tan garage and kitty corner from him is a large, tan, brick government facility on a large amount of property with a lake behind it.  The man’s house and all the landmarks were northeast of Anne’s house right were Ilga had said they would be.  Coincidence?  No way!

Other than some scratches and bite wounds that Waldo received from a fight with a wild animal, some frostbite on his ears and being very skinny, he checked out fine at the vet.  With lots of TLC from his foster family he will make a full recovery.  He is now listed again on Minpin Rescue’s website looking for a permanent home with a fenced yard.  Anne received her adoption fee back minus the vet bill incurred for having to have him checked out.  Two days before Waldo was caught Ann expressed interest in wanting him back, thinking that her new dog would enjoy a puppy playmate.  She won’t be getting him back.  If Waldo could meet Ilga he would give her lots of puppy kisses as his way of saying ‘thank you’ for having saved his life.  Minpin Rescue is forever indebted to her.  Ilga is truly gifted.  Heaven forbid that a situation like Waldo’s ever happens again, but if it does, I know who I’ll be contacting immediately.

Submitted by Kim Curtis.
For more information on the MinPin Rescue Group, please visit www.minpinrescue.org.