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In the end, it was the love of hot dogs on the Fourth of July that resulted in a reunited family and a happy ending on the day when America celebrates its independence

It was a search involving peril and despair, wit vs. cunning, and just plain old stick-to-it-ness where one side finally came up with the plan for checkmate to end a 16-day escape-and-evade that matched man and beast.

In this case, the beast was a full-sized, 53-pound standard poodle named Diana and her pursuers consisting of owners, trappers and neighbors chased her throughout the countryside near Reecer Creek Road north of Ellensburg.

ELUSIVE POODLE

Diana was being relocated to Ellensburg from Tacoma, but slipped through an open door of her new owner’s dog run and was off into the countryside. Over the course of the next 16 days, her saga was posted on four different Facebook pages. As people became aware, nearly 30 sightings appeared by people driving Highway 97 and neighbors in the area.

The saga unfolded, Diana reached Facebook celebrity status, eluding people living in the area, cameras with night vision, and coyotes looking to make a meal of a domestic pet. The search was on, and the elusive white poodle was sighted up and down the road and throughout the countryside, but no one could seem to grab her.

“I think the coyotes where chasing her. People were putting out food on (Reecer Creek) road and reported when they saw her eating it. Somebody said she slept underneath their trailer,” said Bothell trapper Dawna Nielsen, who has a summer cabin on Elk Springs Road. “At one point I had three traps out, but she wouldn’t even come close. It seemed like we were always way behind.”

The story began on June 16. Debbie Powell’s daughter owned both Diana and her brother. Debbie has Diana’s father and brother up in Chelan. Diana’s new home in Ellensburg meant to be a separation from family, possibly leading to the bolt once she got the chance. Once she was loose, she was to say the least — elusive.

SIGHTINGS

“People would email us saying they had seen her. We had the farmers looking. People from the community. There was one farmer with 1,600 acres in one direction and 1,200 acres in another calling in,” Powell said. “We were leaving food wherever we would see was sighted.

“I think she thought she was on a dog show tour or something. She was a celebrity. But since I live in Chelan, I had to rely on people that were total strangers to me, which is another thing that makes this story so amazing.”

Dog lovers, animal lovers and that doggone elusive poodle played hide-and-seek for a couple of weeks. Dawn Millett-Vasquez lives in the area. Dawna Nielsen was over from Bothell, staying in a summer cabin. Debbie Powell from Chelan and eventually Bob Chism with Res Q Angles over in Yakima were in the search party.

Vasquez served as the local liaison. People called from Seattle and all over the Pacific Northwest, even a guy visiting from California in the area, following the progress through websites at Kittitas County lost-and-found pets, Kittitas County Facebook and other lost-and-found sites.

LIKE A DEER

And yet, Diana, who was once spotted chasing a deer, eluded the force of friends and family and concerned citizens for one day at a time for 16 days. It finally came down to bringing in the Res Q Angel, Trapper Bob Chism.

“I’m not much of a people person. What I do is about keeping the animal safe,” said Chism, who specializes in catching animals that can’t be caught.

Trapper Bob set up shop, first with an infrared night vision camera to get an idea what he was looking at. He has an unconventional way of doing things, using, a 15-feet long, 10-foot high pen similar to a dog run with a wire mesh cover. He reached into an old bag of tricks, using hot dogs as the lure.

TRAPPER BOB 

Sure enough, about 7 p.m. on the Fourth of July, Diana, who never did catch a deer, but managed to elude the coyotes, showed up and followed the trail of hot dogs into the pen and Bob was there to shut the door.

“What took us two weeks to do, Bob got done in 25 minutes,” Vasquez said. “But with everything that’s going on, it’s nice to have a happy ending.”

Ellensburg is a nice place to visit, Diana might be thinking, but now she’s reunited with her father and brother up in Chelan where she belongs.

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