A runaway dog is back with his owners after spending 126 days avoiding capture and living with the wildlife of Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Forest.
But outdoor living comes naturally for Murray the dog.
“He’s tough,” explains his owner, Tony Beaudoin, who, along with his girlfriend, adopted the pup in early October after Murray was found living in the bush in a community north of Lake Manitoba.
“I mean, he lived up north through that too, so I knew that he could handle the weather. I just didn’t know for certain if we’d be able to catch him at all because he was pretty elusive.”
Murray’s adventures started a couple weeks after his adoption, when a loud noise spooked him and he broke free from Beaudoin’s girlfriend while they were on a walk through River Heights.
The couple searched the area without luck, but then they got a surprise call — a police officer spotted Murray a couple days later, heading into Assiniboine Forest, across from the Grant Avenue police station.
“He was about six kilometres from where he had last been seen,” said Beaudoin.
“He must have just taken off like a shot and kept going until he got to the woods.”
‘It was pretty frustrating’
The couple checked the forest but couldn’t find Murray, but it was a different story for the group that originally found the lost pup in the northern Manitoba bush.
Volunteers from the animal rescue group LEASH got involved and Beaudoin says they were having regular Murray sightings when they would stop by the forest with food and traps.
“He’d come out to greet you,” said Beaudoin of the next few months of trying to trap the dog in the forest. “It’s like he wanted to go with you but couldn’t bring himself to do it.
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“It was pretty frustrating.”
Murray was just too elusive, so, earlier this month, they decided it was time to bring in the big guns — they built a custom-made trap.
And this trap wasn’t meant to catch your grandma’s poodle.
“The thing is roughly four feet high, maybe four or five feet wide and 10 feet deep,” said Beaudoin.
“The plate of food would sit right where it was and there was a trail of food coming in.
“For an animal trap, it’s insane.”
‘We’ve only got really one shot’
Volunteers left the trap — with its laser-beam trigger — unarmed for a few days to make sure Murray would get accustomed to eating inside it, then, on Monday they made their move.
Beaudoin was nervous.
“If this thing fires and it doesn’t catch him, he’s not going back in,” he said Thursday. “So we’ve only got really one shot at this thing.”
The trap was set at 6:15 p.m. Monday, and within 10 minutes, the months-long chase was over.
“I got a text message and the text message was just a picture of him caught in the trap,” said Beaudoin.
Now that he’s back home, Beaudoin said Murray is adjusting well to the quiet life, but things have changed when it’s time for walks.
When the couple takes him out now, Murray always has two leashes around his neck, said Beaudoin.
“It was an adventure I don’t ever want to do again,” he laughs.
“I was just shocked, because when it got down to about -40 you get concerned about whether or not he’s going to make it — he’s got to be the toughest dog in the universe.
“He survived no problem at all.”
–With files from Diana Foxall