Shih Tzu mix makes the rounds in Mammoth Lakes, may be in the running for new Mayor of Mammoth
“Honestly, without the people in Mammoth, Lucy would never have come home,” said Meredith Vender, whose 12-pound Shih Tzu mix, Lucy, survived for eight nights in Mammoth and was finally captured on Monday, February 12. “Your town is incredible.”
Vender (who adopted Lucy last June) and a group of friends were visiting Mammoth early this month when Lucy made a break for it. On Saturday, February 3, Vender went skiing and left Lucy at her condo with a friend who had volunteered to watch the dogs.
“When they opened the door, Lucy just bolted,” said Vender. “My one friend, who was pregnant, is a marathon runner,” and took off after Lucy. “And a random guy on a bike jumped in to help… he followed her for about two miles.”
But Lucy evaded her pursuers. Vender’s pregnant friend slipped and fell in the chase, and ended up going to the emergency room, “which added another horrible layer,” to the ordeal.
Vender was on a chairlift at Mammoth when she got the phone call. “The first thing my friend said was, ‘Don’t panic.’ Well, of course… I panicked. I thought, ‘She’s already been eaten by a coyote, it’s over, she’s dead.’”
Apparently, chasing Lucy was a no-no. “You’re not supposed to do that,” she learned. “It’ll just make them more anxious.”
The first night, Vender was inconsolable. But over the next few days, Lucy was spotted in The Village. And Woolly’s Tube Park. And the Mammoth Mountain Garage. And in the Knolls.
Vender started putting up fliers. “The employees of the Village Hotel bought me coffee at Starbucks,” said Vender. “And complete strangers came to help me look. They put up fliers for me when I had to go back down to L.A.” where she is a social worker.
“On Monday [February 5], I had to go back for work… then I got a call at 4:30 p.m. that she was following people in The Village. So I dropped my friend off in L.A. and drove back up.”
No sighting Tuesday. Vender drove back down south. Then back up Friday. She camped out near the Earthquake Fault, cooking bacon, buying rotisserie chickens. At one point, she was followed by a coyote. “So now I know for sure there are coyotes out here, and it’s getting really cold,” she said.
She drove back to L.A. again on Sunday. Then on Monday she got the call.
Lucy had finally been cornered by Zach Nikolaus at the Mammoth Garage. Nikolaus was an accidental hero.
“In all honesty, I had no clue” that Lucy was the subject of a Mammoth-wide dog hunt. “I just went on my lunch break,” he said. “I saw this little dog running around in the parking lot…when I came back to work I saw a lost sign and I was like, ‘Oh crap! I just saw that dog!’ So I ran back outside and followed her footprints in the snow to one of our shipping containers and there she was, laying down inside.”
Nikolaus tried to grab her, but she growled at him. “So I just closed the door so she couldn’t get out” and called Angela Owens, a Mammoth resident who had spearheaded the local search party.
“Lucy wouldn’t have come home without Angela,” said Vender. “She put up over 100 fliers for me. She went to the garage when they cornered Lucy and put on my sweater” to provide her with a familiar smell. “She brought Lucy back to her house and even let me sleep there” on Monday night. “And I’d never met her before.”
Owens told The Sheet that she’d seen a flier with Lucy’s picture on it and “I had the natural reaction most people in Mammoth do” when they see a dog has gone missing. “You’re like, ‘Okay, good luck.’” But she couldn’t stop thinking about Lucy. She heard that former police officer Sean Frank was out with heat vision goggles at night, so she thought maybe she could spend at least a day searching. She even had a dream that Lucy was back home. So she looked. And on Saturday, February 10, a week after Lucy went missing, “I freaking saw her,” said Owens.
But she couldn’t catch her. So she printed up more flyers to put in The Village. Owens said that businesses in the village like Sushi Rei and Gomez’s, who let her put Lucy’s picture in prominent locations, were crucial to finding the pup. “When I told people that she had survived a whole week, the story changed,” said Owens. “Even people who said she’s coyote food started to think maybe we could get her home…I think one of the biggest things was people sharing the sightings, because that kept hope alive.”
As of press time, Lucy was home with her mom, sleeping in her familiar fuzzy gray bed after a wild Mammoth adventure. “She is crazy,” said Vender. “She’s a little warrior.”