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Lost English Mastiff, Olivia, Last Seen on Capitol Hill

by Prince Of Petworth November 6, 2010 at 5:57 pm 18 Comments

From an email:

“I recently took in a foster-dog, a 90-lb. brindle English Mastiff named Olivia. She was very recently rescued and has been fought, bred, and abused. She is severely underweight, had several recent surgeries, and is generally in pretty rough shape. She wouldn’t eat or drink for the first two days I had her and still wouldn’t even take treats from me as of Monday. Her biggest challenge is that she is not socialized: she is afraid of humans (including me) and, because she was locked in a garage, basically everything in the outside world is new and scary to her. I have never cared for a more needy, vulnerable dog.

On Monday morning, as we were crossing Mass. Ave. (NW, DC), her harness came detached from her leash. (This is odd because she still makes me drag her out of the apartment by the harness, and the connection to the leash was strong enough not to come apart when I pulled her into the hall. Regardless, it came apart one way or another.) Once she realized she was off-leash, she started running, right out into traffic, and kept going. I chased her to the Capitol, and the Capitol Police followed her to the intersection of 11th and G SE, but then they lost her as well.

She’s incredibly adept at dodging people, and she ran much longer and farther than I would have thought she could. Between the activity and her general anxiety, she is almost certainly hiding. She likes to hide in bushes; and, for a 90-lb. dog, she’s pretty good at making herself invisible. She is not at all aggressive – when approached, she runs/backs away as much as possible, then just hides her face.

She was wearing a red-orange martingale collar and a black Easy-Walk harness. She had had my dog Leah’s extra i.d. tag on her harness, but had gotten that off. (She’s a veritable Houdini when it comes to getting out of collars and harnesses!) She did not have her own i.d. tag yet, so the only tag she has on is the one from her rabies vaccination. She probably has not lived here long enough to find her way back, but if you see her (or even just think you might have seen her), please call (617) 947-5627.”

  • dog

    Your rescue needs to get a tracker involved ASAP. There are steps you need to be taking within the first few hours to make the search successful. If your rescue isn’t helping, this is why you should work with reputable organizations for this kind of stuff. Take her blanket or bed and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer in the meantime. Good luck. I know how upsetting this can be.

    • laura

      Do dogs from less reputable organizations deserve forever-homes any less than do those from the best organizations? Do the former not need good foster homes and adoptive homes and “this kind of stuff” even more? And is there any lost pet that doesn’t deserve to be found?

      Regardless of the answers to these questions, advice about what rescue one “should work with” is not particularly helpful after the dog has run away (though it does suggest one more potential source of guilt if I were so inclined – thanks for that!).

      And, by the way, Olivia’s rescue has been incredibly helpful and supportive, despite the fact that it’s located several states away with few DC-area connections.

  • sharon

    that’s heartbreaking – I hope you find her. If she’s afraid of people do you think she might head toward woodsy areas around the riverfront – just south of where she was last seen? would it help to have folks look around down there (take bike trips etc. to look out?)

  • Poor thing. I know you want to help her but maybe she really is better off on her own. It’s not like people have been good to her.

    • photodork

      It sounds to me like this foster owner has been VERY good to her.

    • w00t

      Domesticated animals are almost never better off on their own.

  • Jessica

    We can’t be of much help because we’re in dupont but this is so sad – maybe she has a chip in her from the rescue group?
    I hope someone finds her/calls her in. Let the DC shelter know this in case they get a call. You might be able to give them your contact info because, to be honest, they don’t respond really to picking up animals, so they might be able to call you and have you get the dog if someone calls it in.

    Please keep up posted. We have a rescue mastiff who was clearly not treated well as a pup but is now happy, friendly and love pretty much everything. It’s never too late for a dog, no matter how timid at first, to overcome and love life.

  • good luck with this. she’s got a lovely giant forehead.

  • laura

    Thank you all for your help so far.

    Her rescue is involved and we have two different dog trafficking services coming – one today and one tomorrow. The two sightings people have told me about we not so much in wooded areas as a quiet residential area, in or across the street from a dog park. (As I mentioned, she is fine with other dogs.) In one, she was indeed hiding in the bushes, and in the other, she was chasing squirrels!

    I’ve spoken with animal control every day, and I have contacted all the vets and all the shelters (including the humane society). For all of the medical attention she got when she got rescued, they didn’t give her a microchip! (She might be the only rescue dog in the country not microchipped!) I am not as worried about getting her once she gets into a shelter or a vet (anywhere someone could read a microchip).

    I am more worried about her out on her own, not able to get herself adequate food or shelter, especially in the cold. (She’s a domesticated dog and an abused one at that – she can’t take care of herself – so I strongly disagree with whoever thinks she’s better on her own! Dying of hunger and exposure doesn’t seem to me to be in her best interest.) My other worry is that someone will basically steal her and mistreat her. Even someone with good intentions will likely not know how to address her special needs.

    Anyway, there was a picture with her flyer that did not come through – it shows her sniffing around outside so you can get a better idea of what you might see if you spotted her. I don’t see a way to add a picture to this post, but a friend is making a facebook page for her and, when he sends me the address, I’ll add it here.

    Thanks again!

  • mel

    I hope the following story helps the owner of this missing mastiff: http://wapo.st/cLfxLz

    • laura

      Thanks! Someone called me about that and a neighbor and I went right away to search. We didn’t find the dog but we did find out it wasn’t Olivia. We spoke to people who lived in that apartment complex and they said that that mastiff is actually ok because people leave food for her, but she wears a bright pink harness (Livvie’s is black) and has been living there for months! I spoke to one of the trackers about her, though, and she might try to come get that dog when she gets back in town. I think that would be great because soon a mattress by a dumpster won’t be enough to keep her warm and well-fed!

  • sharon

    that’s great Laura – if non expert but concerned folks local to capitol hill can help by volunteering pls post here how to do that – i’d be happy to try and scout a bit on my bike and be nonobtrusive in approach.

    I also wanted to say that I’m very appreciative of your work on behalf of Olivia – it’s just tragic to think of how she’s been treated to date and I’m glad she has had (and hopefully will soon again have) the opportunity to get nurtured, be safe and heal.

  • Florista

    I live in Virginia, but am a huge dog lover. Apparently not as much as Olivia’s new owner, who obviously cares a great deal about her. Prayers to you both. Please be sure to post updates.

  • JC

    I was hoping to see the update that she’s been found. My prayers are with you. Please post any updates.

  • laura

    thanks to all of you who sent (and continue to send) good wishes and prayers. i wish i could post a “nevermind – she’s home safe and sound” post, but we still haven’t found her. i re-posted flyers and searched the capitol south neighborhood and the area between the capitol and georgetown law school but, much as my little amateur-tracker leah looked, we didn’t find her. (on a slightly more positive note, leah was nearly perfect off-leash: she ran around looking in the bushes, just as i told her to, but left people alone and didn’t even try to step out onto any concrete once! she sat and waited at every intersection, waited for an “ok”, and crossed right with me. at least i know that, if she ever runs away or gets lost, she won’t run out into traffic!) in the meantime, i am worried sick about olivia and miss her horribly. but i do appreciate your help and encouragement, so thanks again!

  • I hope Olivia finds a safe haven soon. I can only imagine how difficult it is to have your dog wandering the streets.

    My Mazie sends her canine good wishes for Olivia’s safe return.

  • laura

    an update: good news, bad news. the bad news is that we have not yet found olivia. the good news is that i think we are as close as we have been to finding her since the day she ran away. on sunday, i went with pet tracker sam connelly and her tracking dog salsa, and we went to the spot where the hot dog vendor at eastern market said he’d seen her four days earlier. (i had done an earlier search with another pet-tracker but we hadn’t had much luck at all, so my hopes weren’t that high.)

    to my surprise and great delight, salsa found olivia’s scent right away and we followed it for a long time. (i think the difference between the earlier attempt to track and this one was that no rain had fallen between the sighting and the track.) anyway, we went for three miles! fortunately, it wasn’t three miles straight – not even close – we basically just went around in circles. the tracker said that she has basically adopted that area (west of navy yard, roughly s. capitol to 8th streets and k street down to m street, all s.e.) as her new neighborhood and the circles are her searches for food and water. now, if we can just get another, more recent sighting, the tracker can set up a trap she made herself especially for scared rescue dogs!

    several volunteers have helped me put up fliers and hand out business cards in that area, but we still have lots more to do! if you can help at all (by printing flyers, putting them in sheet protectors, putting them up on your own, putting them up with other volunteers, checking shelters, even just walking around looking for her – pretty much anything! – please email me directly to let me know @ [email protected].

    thanks for all of your concern, as well as the canine good wishes (which i’m sure olivia values even more than the generous outpouring of human care), and again for all of your help! i really need it so we can get livvie home!


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