In November, Coco's Heart Dog Rescue took in four canine brothers who had been roaming free in North Dakota. Numerous scars and injuries served as proof that each dog had been living outside for quite some time.
"They clearly didn't have humans who treated them well," said Lauren Byrd. She opened her home to foster Hobbes, one of the dogs.
After several days of getting used to living inside, Hobbes began to get more comfortable in Byrd's home with the family's two children and two dogs. Byrd posted photos of Hobbes cozying up on the couch with her 6-year-old daughter, Collette, to social media to entice would-be adopters and find Hobbes a forever home.
On Dec. 11, Byrd drove Hobbes to the home of a family in Northfield, where he began his new life — until he ran away.
Hobbes' new family enlisted the Retrievers, a volunteer group based in Minneapolis that helps find lost and missing dogs. Tara Morrison, a volunteer with the Retrievers, became Hobbes' case manager.
Sightings ebbed and flowed for the next few weeks, and it became clear Hobbes wasn't interested in staying put for long. Morrison saw Hobbes herself once, but he quickly ran away. A sighting map shows his migration from Northfield to Dundas, and all the way down to Faribault.
Morrison and her team tried using food, scent trails of liquid smoke as well as blankets and towels used by the Byrd family to draw Hobbes in. When temperatures dropped, bringing Hobbes home became even more urgent. That, combined with the fact that Hobbes began returning to the same location several times, was enough to convince Morrison and her team to try using a humane kennel to capture him.
The kennel was pieced together slowly to avoid scaring Hobbes away from the spot he had been frequenting. Morrison left kibble, combinations of wet dog and cat food and lots of bacon cheeseburgers.
"I rubbed bacon grease on everything," Morrison said. "I even rubbed bacon grease high up on trees to try and get the scent out there."
Trail cameras were positioned around the kennel's area that would notify Morrison's team when motion was detected. She was waiting in her car three minutes away when Hobbes, at last, was lured inside by food and the door closed behind him.
Hobbes was rushed to an emergency veterinarian. Miraculously, the dog who had spent nearly 70 days and nights outside in freezing temperatures and traveled what Morrison estimates to be close to 200 miles — sometimes with a pack of coyotes — had no signs of frostbite.
For now, Hobbes will stay in Byrd's care while he continues to be evaluated.