A dog tale: June is found in November

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A dog tale: June is found in November

By BOB HODGE, Scripps Howard News Service

December 09, 2002

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Joe Justice knows about hunting dogs. Because of what happened last month he now knows a lot about hunting a dog, too.

What started out as a two-week grouse-hunting trip in northern Wisconsin ended up a week-long nightmare after Justice and his English pointer June became separated during a hunt. The day the dog got lost Justice searched the woods, but all he could find were tracks in the snow.

"We were hunting and she was with us, and then the next thing I know she just wasn't there," Justice said. "We searched until it was dark and we searched until noon the next day, but that's when we had to come home. So I left without her."

For a week Justice was back home in Knoxville fretting over his dog's fate. June? Well, no one will ever know how things went as she survived snow, sub-freezing temperatures and woods full of coyotes, bears and wolves.

Justice got the three-year-old June when she was still a puppy - he named her after the month when he filed for divorce - and had watched her turn into a well-rounded grouse dog. Before he left Wisconsin he put ads in two papers and contacted a couple of radio stations to say he was offering a reward to anyone who could find June.

After getting home late Saturday, Justice got a call on Monday from a beaver trapper who said he had seen the dog. The trapper, Tim VanStratton, put out food, but could never get close enough to the dog to catch her.

Meanwhile the local animal shelter and a park ranger had set out a live trap baited with dog food hoping they could catch June.

"On Wednesday I got a call from the animal shelter people saying they had found her," Justice said. "But the address on her collar wasn't right and it wasn't June."

The dog they found belonged to Joe Heath, a Knoxville firefighter who had lost his dog earlier that day. Heath celebrated the return of his black and white birddog while Justice lamented more bad news.

"That same day I talked to a bear-hunting guide and he told me wolves had already killed seven dogs around there," Justice said. "Five of the dogs were bear hounds and the others were bird dogs. I mean, the wolves are killing these big Plotts, and I've lost this little old pointer."

On top of that, the beeper collar Justice thought would keep June safe was actually working against her.

"The bear hunter said at night the wolves would hear it beeping and come looking for the sound," Justice said. "When they found June they would probably kill her."

By Thursday nobody was returning Justice's phone calls. He was getting ready to go back to Wisconsin on Friday when the beaver trapper called.

VanStratton, who lives in Green Bay and annually takes a fall vacation to trap, had gotten the live trap from the animal shelter and set it in the area where he had been seeing June. He put some dog food in the trap and on Friday morning found a skinny, but otherwise healthy June waiting on him.

"I went up there on Saturday and gave him the reward and drank a few beers with him," Justice said. "I was supposed to be going to Nebraska to hunt with a friend, but we just stayed up there and hunted. It's incredible what all these people did to help me find my dog."

And Justice didn't have to worry about June running off this time.

"She stayed in the dog box," Justice said. "I've started calling her Junedini because of the way she gets out of things, but this time she was glad to be where it was safe and warm."

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Contact Bob Hodge of The Knoxville News-Sentinel in Tennessee at http://www.knoxnews.com
 


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