After two weeks in the hills above Brand Park, Sophie’s home.
And it wasn’t for not trying.
A greyhound that experts call a spook — dogs that are shy of people, even of their owners — Sophie and a second greyhound, Charlotte, left through Joe Wathen’s and wife Kristina Krause’s yard gate Dec. 30.
Charlotte ended up at a neighbor’s house, but Sophie was nowhere to be found, sparking a massive search that included neighbors living near Brand Park, of Grey Save and Fast Friends — two greyhound rescue, adoption and support groups.
Laura Nelson of Fast Friends came out to help look for Sophie the first day, Krause said. Grey Save’s members came soon after, walking the neighborhood, talking to people, circulating fliers with Sophie’s picture.
They also suggested posting brightly colored signs within a 2-mile radius. A map of the surrounding area marked with Sophie sightings called in from neighbors was tacked onto a porch wall.
Krause said a pattern started to form: Sophie was hiding in the foothills near Brand Park during the day and coming down to the neighborhood to look for food at night.
“We were looking in every nook and cranny a Greyhound could hide — under porches, stairways, parked cars, behind air conditioning units,” said Jeanine Yutani, co-founder of Grey Save. “Greyhounds can curl up really small.”
You can’t chase them. They are racing dogs that reach speeds of up to 45 mph, Yutani said.
Connie Kruzan, a member of Grey Save, came up with the idea for a stakeout. She organized volunteers to sit in their vehicles from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. from Elmwood Avenue in Burbank to Winchester in Glendale.
On the second night, Krause got a call from a neighbor who had Sophie in his sights. Then a woman called Krause on her cell phone. She was in her car watching Sophie come down Elmwood near Sunset Canyon Drive in Burbank.
Krause grabbed Charlotte and some snacks and hopped in the car.
After pulling up to the location, “I see her coming down the street,” she said. “It’s her.”
Krause and Charlotte got out of the car — her purse still inside, the engine still running.
“I called her. She kept trotting away, but looked back several times,” Krause said.
Sophie starting trotting down Sunset Canyon, then Bel Aire.
By then, Wathen had arrived on the scene and could hear Krause calling Sophie’s name in the background while on the cell phone with the canvasser.
When he got to Bel Aire and Grinnell, there was a convoy of cars with their lights on between Sophie and the street, but the dog kept walking, Wathen said.
“I had the leash in my hand. I stepped out of the car and she was coming up the street toward me, and I was calling her name. She walks around me, goes on the grass in front of a house and stops.”
Wathen held up the leash’s collar.
“And you could see the light bulb come on, and she lifted her head and squinted like she always does while waiting for me to pull the collar over her face,” he said.
“I have her!” Wathen called out.
Everybody broke down and cried.
“A woman I didn’t even know was crying and gave me a hug,” he recalled.
Except for picking up six ticks and losing 20 pounds, a veterinarian said she’d be fine.
Wathen and Krause said the happy ending was due to the volunteers.
“Instead of losing our dog, we found 50 friends,” Krause said.