LOLA’S STORY

On the 11 October 2022, Lola, a rescue Beagle, in Heaton Moor, Stockport SK4, got frightened by a bang and jumped, breaking the lead and bolted. She had only been at her new home for 3 weeks and before that had never been in a house with a family. She had lived in a shed in a garden. She had never been on a walk and had no real life experience of anything.

Lola’s owner contacted me for help so the following day I put a remote camera at her house and feed stations with remote cameras were placed strategically in the area. There were a few sightings of her in the area but she wouldn’t settle due to being approached by some people or called. Posters were printed and laminated and put up in the area. Thank you to Debi Fellone for printing all those posters .
One week later, on Tuesday 18 October, at 9.26pm, she visited a feed station in some woods on Maunder’s fields (locally known as Helicopter Park). The day before, she was chased by some people from ‘The Common’ off Mersey rd, and was last seen entering the park.

Myself and her owner, Laura, started setting up a feed station when Lola appeared! We kept very still so as not to alarm her and sat down on the ground. Lola sniffed around about 3 metres away from us and then went. She didn’t seem to know we were there or at least she didn’t show any alarm (bear in mind she was now deep into survival mode and wouldn’t even go to her owner). We finished what we was doing then went. Lola returned to the food 3 times throughout the night (see video footage) and at first light Laura put some more food there then later on we put up the trap.

During the first week, Lola had been seen a few times in people’s gardens on Curtis rd and a lovely lady called Lucy and her family allowed us to set a trap on her drive where Lola had been seen on their Ring doorbell footage. This trap stayed there and Laura put fresh food in, and changed the batteries and powerbanks for the next 3 weeks, while Lucy and her family lost the use of their driveway. I just want to say at this point a massive thank you to Lucy and her family for allowing us to take over their driveway for so long.

We had sightings reported and Ring doorbell footage of Lola while the traps were set in different locations in the area but she didn’t return to the traps. Another trap was set near ‘The Common’ but she didn’t appear. During the 4 weeks, we had various traps out with remote cameras and someone on standby by incase Lola should go in (or any other animal who would need to be realised). We did accidentally trap a poor fox but he was let out within a couple of minutes of being trapped (not Lola’s fox) and gave Kirsty a dirty look when he ran off then stopped to look at her .

On Saturday 22 October, at night time, we received a message that Lola had been seen inside Stockport Sewage Works. Sadly she was chased and the person shone a torch on her, and whistled and called her. I went to the area on Sunday to work out her route that she would have taken along the River Mersey. There were no more sightings and we were worried because in this precise area she had the motorway, a train line and the river as obstacles. We didn’t know if something had happened to her with being chased or she had left the area. We obtained permission to set a feed station inside the sewage works (thank you Rick) and tried to gain entry to farmland nearby which was declined by the farmer.

On Tuesday 25 October, thankfully we had a sighting. She was seen in Didsbury. She had followed the river. Posters were put up and more feed stations. We were now alarmed that she was using the river path as potentially she could go all the way to Urmston. And she proved us right! We busily started posting in all Facebook groups, especially local to Urmston.

The following day, she was seen in a garden just off Church Rd, Urmston. She had been in the garden all day and seen 3 times throughout the day by the lady of the house. Unfortunately she didn’t know about Lola. She had seen her the first two times on a wildlife camera as she fed badgers. The third time she opened the door when Lola was there and Lola bolted. I set a feed station and remote camera in her garden (thank you Janet) and we waited in hope but she didn’t return. I also walked the area to find the route she would have taken from the river and set another feed station up where I believed she would pass near the river when she returned to the path. Again we were worried as her last sighting was at the side of the railway line. We didn’t know if she had started to use the railway lines to get about. Network rail and highways agency were kept informed and alerted throughout Lola’s journey.

We had no more sightings until Saturday 29 October. She was now in Flixton, Urmston. Again, feed stations and remote cameras were placed and I walked the route which I believed she had taken and did a scent trail along a nature trail which led back to the river. The river path ended at Urmston Meadows so she must have found another route to Flixton which was 2.5 miles as the crow flies. We wanted her to get back to the path at the side of the river which would lead to home. Posters were put up and we waited.
She was seen again in that area the following day but unfortunately chased by someone in a car where she ended up being seen on Lostock Park and nearby. Again a feed station, cameras and posters were put up in the area.

On the 31 October she was then sighted on Longford Park in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy. She was also sighted on Ryebank fields so a trap was set and we waited throughout the day and night up until 3.30am for her to show. She didn’t.
The following day, 2 November, she was then sighted in Stretford on Norwood rd, and nearby areas. This included being seen on Trafford Retail Park and Kingsway Park. Someone saw her at the retail park at 5.20am and chased her in their car where they lost her on the park. It seemed as we got close to getting her safe, someone would try catching her which only succeeded in her leaving the area and us losing her again. Luckily she managed to stay safe (lost dogs being chased can easily end with the dog getting hit by traffic as they concentrate on nothing but getting away from whatever or whoever is chasing them). Posters again were put up in the area.
As she was last sighted going onto the park, I set a humane trap up with remote cameras and waited in my car all day until the early hours of the morning. Thank you Pat for sitting with me. As there was no sign of her, I packed the trap up but left food and a camera. One hour after me leaving she showed up feeding at the camera!

So the following day, 3 November, I set the trap again and Laura manned it while I went home for a few hours. I came back and relieved Laura. At 12.27am, on the 4 November, Lola turned up sniffing around the trap. Eventually she went in and started to eat the food. This was a smaller trap than the ones we usually use (which are activated electronically) and is only activated by the dog standing on a metal plate in front of the food which releases the trap door. Because of having to keep moving the trap around everywhere this was the most easiest to move around. Lola managed to stretch her neck over the metal plate (which was heavily disguised) and didn’t stand on the plate. She ate then walked out of the trap. I gave it a good hour, and when she hadn’t been back I went to the trap to put more food in and make it more difficult for her to get at the food, which meant she had to stand on the plate. As I was doing this, she came to the trap! There was nothing that I could do except stand very still as she was sniffing around the trap. She walked right past me and I will never know, how she at first, she did not know that I was there! But then she saw me and stopped what she was doing. At that point I quietly walked away. I waited in the car watching the live cameras but she didn’t come back. I fell asleep around 4am and woke up at 7.30am frozen solid. It was 1 degree and my car was covered in ice. I went home to defrost. Sorry to that man who asked me that morning if there had been any sightings during the night. I’m afraid that I grumbled a ‘no’ and didn’t continue the conversation as I was so disappointed about her not setting the trap off and also afraid that I had scared her when she saw me stood at the side of the trap plus absolutely frozen solid and exhausted.

There was no more sightings of her until 5 November where she was then seen in Withington. She was only 2.5 miles away from home! Posters were put up as quickly as possible. That morning she had been disturbed by someone coming out of their house. She had been lay on a sofa outside in the garden (the owner was decorating the house and the sofa was waiting to go to the tip). She ran across the main road and was then seen hiding in a garden where she again got accidentally disturbed and ran. We didn’t get anymore sightings that day. Bonfire night brought nothing but worry for Lola. We could only hope and pray that she was lay low and hiding .

In the early hours of the following morning, 6 November, Lola appeared on cctv. Jennifer, from the house with the sofa, has cctv and she had footage of Lola playing ‘Tig’ with her fox friend (see videos). Thank you to Jennifer for the videos too. Lola then went and lay down on the sofa while the fox waited for her. I went straight away that morning and set the trap. This time though, thanks to Nick, who showed me how to adapt that trap with the electronics that I use on the ‘supertraps’, and lent me his trap which was already converted, I was able to set the trap so I didn’t have to rely on Lola standing on the metal plate to activate the trap door. I could then rely on the sensors or even shut the door with a remote button on my phone. Again another sleepless night waiting for her to show herself. She didn’t.
On the 7 November, we received a message late that night saying that Lola had been seen in a nearby garden but across the main road. The man fed wildlife and he saw her eating the food. Arrangements were made to take the trap straight there into his garden the following day.

On Tuesday 8 November, exactly 4 weeks to the day when Lola bolted, as myself and Laura got to the garden, we saw Lola sniffing around in the garden. We had to wait until she disappeared then very quickly and quietly take the trap and cameras in and disappear! As usual, cats appeared and proceeded to eat the food in the trap. I then waited in my car further away from the house and at 2.53pm Lola turned up at the trap sniffing around. One of the cats however was sat at the side of the trap and Lola was apprehensive about this cat. The cat wouldn’t move and Lola started barking at the cat. Thankfully the cat gave up and Lola, very slowly, proceeded to walk into the trap. She was stood for a while with her back feet out, stretching and leaning towards the food. I sat there waiting for her to go fully in and eventually when she did do, I pressed the button on my phone and the door shut. At last, Lola was safe.

The trapping of Lola has been bittersweet. We are elated that she’s safe but we also know that there is a fox out there, her friend and companion, who somewhere along her journey befriended her and followed her from at least Urmston, where they were seen together by a few people, to Withington where they were seen together on cctv. For the past 2 weeks at least, they have been on this journey together. We didn’t see the fox when we trapped Lola but I’m sure he/she was nearby. Some people have asked could we not trap the fox too. This though would be cruel to the fox as it would mean him/her living their life in captivity. We quite often get footage of foxes eating at our feed stations alongside cats, but a couple of weeks ago also got footage of a fox eating alongside a badger (this wasn’t Lola’s fox friend). A few people do kindly leave food out for foxes which helps them to survive. Foxes have a bad reputation by some people (only tonight I have seen negative comments on a post about them being wild and dangerous) but they have shown us that they can co exist with other animals and share resources, so why can’t we, as humans?

Lola has been on an incredible journey, and has travelled many many miles. In the first week she was seen as limping and we suspected her paws were very sore because of all the running she did. They are now fine and she herself is absolutely fine besides losing a lot of weight. We managed to feed her quite often on her journey and she also managed to find food. She was very resourceful and clever, knowing what she had to do to survive. We spent a long time during those weeks, asking and begging people to not approach, Chase, Search, call or whistle her. We posted on every Facebook group in the areas that we could find. Please, if you ever come across a lost dog, don’t approach that dog. Instead let the dog come to you. Lola was chased, called, whistled, followed etc by a lot of well meaning people. We believe that she left the area of Heaton Moor because she was chased then she became lost and struggled to find her way back. If she had been ignored and left alone to continue with what she was doing when she was seen, she would have been safely caught weeks ago and wouldn’t have left the area. We understand that people do this as a natural instinct and want to help. However, this is the worse thing to do for a lost dog. Not only does it prolong the time it takes to get the dog safe, it also puts them in great danger. I’ve added a link below to ‘Survival Mode’ in dogs. This explains what happens to a dog when they become lost.

Lola has been a very difficult dog to track and to get safe. Our emotions and mental/physical strength have been tested to say the least. Many times we thought we were going to lose Lola. She was in very busy areas a lot of the time and had motorways, roads, dual carriageways, railways and the river to try to stay safe from. The worse was fireworks though. We were terrified for her, especially bonfire night. We knew she was out there and we knew she would have been absolutely terrified. Several lost dogs again this year lost their lives because of the fireworks. And of course many other animals. It’s only today that we learned of a dog who bolted last night from their garden when a firework went off was killed on the road .

Lola needs to renamed ‘Lucky Lola’ because she certainly was lucky staying safe. However, the main reason she stayed safe was because her survival instinct kicked in. But also because she is one clever, determined, brave little dog. She is now following Laura, her owner, everywhere around the house. She slept all last night as she was obviously exhausted, and so did we! I personally have made great friends along Lola’s journey, and gained a lot of respect and admiration for Laura, Lola’s owner. She never stopped once. She did everything possible to make sure Lola stayed safe and got home. Thank you Laura for putting your faith in us for getting Lola safe. You worked your self down to the ground and I’m sure that Lola will be forever grateful to you for this as well as giving her a good forever home.
I want to say a massive thank you to all those people who saw Lola and ignored her completely. But then let us know. You are also the reason why Lola stayed safe and is now home. One lady even hid behind a tree so she didn’t startle her. THANK YOU . Thank you to those who shared our posts and tried your best to get people to listen and not to approach her. Thank you to Jonathan who helped with the admin and all the admins on the various groups that we posted on for accepting our posts and accepting and understanding that we had to be forceful with our message that people were not to approach her or post sightings on the posts. Thank you to everyone who gave up your gardens for Lola and for us to use, especially to those such as Lucy who had to park their cars on the street as we had taken over your driveway for 3 weeks! Thank you to Sue who not only allowed us to use your garden but also put the food out every night for nearly a week. And to the lady on Mersey Rd (sorry I don’t know your name) who allowed us to put a feed station in your garden and gain access while you was away. Thank you to everybody who helped . I will probably have to keep editing this for a while as the past 4 weeks have been a very long 4 weeks and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something or to thank somebody. I am sorry if I haven’t mentioned others who helped. Once I’ve posted this I will come back to it to check it. At the moment I just want to post Lola’s story so everyone who followed her journey doesn’t have to wait any longer. Lola is one remarkable dog!

We have gone through a lot of food that was used for the feed stations and traps for the last 28 days. We have to put lots down each day at each feed station (up to 6/7 feed stations) because other animals eat it and we have to ensure there’s enough left if Lola should have turned up. Each feed station would use up at least 9 tins of dog food, tinned hotdogs, tinned meatballs and sardines. Each day, for the 4 weeks, I drove at least one journey there and back, sometimes 2 journeys, and the cost of the diesel easily amounted to hundreds of pounds. Our funds and resources have had a battering. If you can donate this would be gratefully received and valued as without donations we can’t do what we do. Please see the details of where you can donate below:

Bank transfer:
Bank of Scotland
Greater Manchester Lost Dog (GMLD) Search & Rescue Capture Team
Acc no: 22683569
Sort code: 80-22-60

PayPal: [email protected]
(please choose ‘friends and family’ option otherwise we get charged a fee)

Amazon wish list:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/1YD6WERF4SOQU…

Any donated food gratefully received (please message for a drop off point)
https://www.buddhadogrescueandrecovery.com/…/survival-mode