Beagle back with owners
With the click of a gate, the clip of a lead and a big belly scratch, Libby the runaway beagle's four-month escapade on the Manawatu River walkway came to an end.
The pooch is now at the home of the "gentle, loving" family that adopted her from a gun-toting abuser, only to have her run away from them.
The bitch, estimated to be 18 months old, consistently evaded the capture of Palmerston North City Council animal control officers.
But Libby was also a favourite with other dogs and some neighbours on the popular walkway.
Professional dog walker Louise Outtrim helped catch Libby by latching her inside a home near Waterloo Cres on Saturday afternoon.
Outtrim, who owns the business The Dog Walker, had been bonding with the beagle since she first started appearing on the track.
"The look of resignation in her face when she knew she had been caught was actually really sad," she said.
"She had been living the life of Riley. So many people loved her and have been feeding her.
"I clipped the lead on her and led her to the car, gave her a big scratch on her stomach and then put her inside. I rang the owners and they were just shocked and delighted after all these months that someone had caught her."
Outtrim said the owners, who do not want to be named, had done nothing wrong and were heroes for taking Libby in before she ran away.
"They found her when they were wandering on a beach and they came across a man with a dog and a gun.
"He said he was going to shoot it so they offered to take it off him.
"She was very frightened and had wounds all over her. Beagles are very prone to escaping and it's not any reflection on the owners that she did.
"They are warm and caring and want Libby to have a normal life."
Outtrim said track users had cared for Libby by feeding her and letting her play with their dogs and that had helped her to trust again.
"She was always hyper-cautious, but she so wanted to be part of the pack too. The best trainer for a dog is other dogs and over the past month she's learnt how to be a dog.
"At the start, if you were throwing a stick, she thought it was a weapon and would go and hide, but she slowly realised it was just a stick."
Libby still had problems - a "nasty" rotten tooth was causing her pain and Outtrim suspected the bitch might be pregnant.
But she would be happy with her adopted family, Outtrim said.
"She really wants to be part of a normal life. Not long ago I was lying on the ground at the river and the other dogs I had were playing. She came up to me and I got a kiss on the nose, and was able tickle her under the chin.
"I will miss her but it's what needed to happen."
Wayne Jameson, Palmerston North City Council's head of environmental protection services, said the capture was a happy ending for everyone.
He thanked those who had fed Libby because it had helped to tame her.
In four months they had not caught her but there had also been no complaints about her biting or being intimidating, Jameson said.
The Manawatu Standard understands Libby was given venison for dinner last night - a special treat for a special dog.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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