by Louise H. McGregor, staff writer
Turned loose, to survive on their own in the Deer River area, the two dogs managed to make it through a very tough, long Minnesota winter.
The staff at the Deer River City Hall had been getting complaints on these loose dogs, who were seen chasing deer, for about three months when Bobbi Jo Hemphill saw them on the street one day about five weeks ago.
“I knew that I had never seen them before,” said Hemphill on May 22, “so I felt that they did not belong to anyone in the area. I went around asking area residents if they knew anything about the dogs.
Their reply to Hemphill was, “Yes, we saw them a couple of months ago, or yes, we have been seeing them for quite awhile.”
Hemphill’s next step was to make contact with the Deer River Police Department to see what they knew about the dogs. The answer she got there was that the reports on the dogs had been coming in for about three months. They had a lot of calls on them, as they were spotted by several people who had seen them chasing deer.
Hemphill told the officers that she would like to catch the dogs. “But,” she said, “they said that they had already made contact with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) office to see if the dogs could be taken care of by them because of the deer chasing. The Police Department had given the game warden permission to go ahead and dispose of the dogs. I was told that I would have to contact the game warden.”
That game warden was DNR Conservation Officer Mike Fairbanks. Hemphill called him with her request for more time to try and capture the dogs.
“He told me that he had just gone out the night before looking for the dogs,” said Hemphill, “but, thank God, he was not able to find them. I just hated to see a dog, any dog, shot. When Fairbanks heard what I planned to do he said, ‘Yes. Please catch them,’ He was more than happy to give me the time I needed.”
Hemphill started asking around about where people had been seeing the dogs and tried setting up feeding stations. But that wasn’t working, as they weren’t returning to the same area.
“Unfortunately they picked the railroad tracks as the place that they wanted to hang out,” said Hemphill, “so, I decided that’s where I would have to put my feeding station.”
Hemphill got permission from the Northern Star Cooperative Assistant Manager Brad Box to go ahead and set up the feeding station for the dogs on their property by the newer storage sheds facing the railroad tracks.
That was about five weeks ago. At about the same time Hemphill placed an ad in the local paper asking the city’s residents not to feed the dogs or chase them. “That was important, if I was going to be able to get them to keep returning to my feeding station,” she said.
It took the dogs a couple of days to know where they could find a steady supply of food.
“They started showing up on a regular basis about four weeks ago,” said Hemphill.
“and in about a week they got to the point to where when they see my car pull in, they would come towards me. If they weren’t there when I pulled in, I would shake the dog food bag and they would come running.”
Then there was a problem. The dogs quite showing up after about a week of that routine.
“I found out that there was some road kill about two or so miles east of Deer River. A deer had been hit. The dogs were feeding on the road kill,” said Hemphill who then had a request for her husband, Bruce.
“I told him that we had to get that road kill away from the dogs’ area,” she said. “I know this is gross, but we have to get that done. He was willing to help. We got the truck, put gloves on and went to tackle the job. The stench of rotting meat was strong, but,” continued Hemphill, “the nice thing about it was that the deer was still in one piece that held together as we loaded it into the pickup to haul and dump it on our property. The dogs were actually eating on the road kill when we came to get it but they let me take the deer and the next day they were back to my feeding station.”
This system of getting the dogs familiar with her voice and scent, as she fed and talked to them went on for four weeks.
Hemphill, who has provided foster care for the Retrieve A Golden of Minnesota organization for about four years, knew that these dogs needed help.
Through that organization Hemphill was able to find out how to get help to rescue the two black, stray Goldendoodle dogs.
“I was put in touch with Greg James from an all-volunteer organization called The Retrievers,” said Hemphill, “that is based in Minneapolis.”
It was soon after that when the two Goldendoodles running loose in Deer River were named Kiro and Bear.
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