Efforts remain strong to bring home missing search, rescue dog


Staff Writer

If you’ve driven around Del Mar or Solana Beach in the last two months, you probably are aware that Puck, a black and white border collie mix, is missing.

The retired search-and-rescue dog went missing July 14 from Del Mar Dog Beach, and now a dedicated group of search-and-rescue volunteers is working endlessly to bring him home to his owner, Paul Wiester of Solana Beach.

Hundreds of signs have gone up, thousands of cards have been handed out and even a giant banner has been pulled by plane down the coast, from Oceanside to Mission Beach. But despite a number of positive sightings, Puck is still at large.

What makes Puck’s rescue particularly challenging, said Wiester, is that he is trained to run from anyone who approaches him. As a search-and-rescue dog, Puck used to seek out missing hikers in Rocky Mountain parks and peaks and report back to Wiester, who used to work rescues for the state of Colorado. In the case that Puck found a missing person, it was imperative that he immediately return to his owner without being caught.

In hopes of keeping Puck nourished and grounded, Wiester and volunteers have set up several food stations, equipped with food, water and wildlife cameras, in areas where the dog has been sighted. Wiester refills the food and replaces the cameras’ memory cards one to two times per day, but the footage has thus far turned up only sightings of cats, squirrels, birds and other dogs.

So far, there have been 12 sightings of Puck, the majority of which have been very strong. Just after his disappearance, he was seen near Solana Circle across from the Del Mar Fairgrounds. He then moved to downtown Del Mar, where he was seen by two witnesses the evening of Sept. 2, the night of the bomb scare at L’Auberge hotel. On Sept. 7, he was seen laying in a front yard at the South end of Ocean Avenue, and on Sept. 8, a witness called Wiester to say he was “100 percent sure” he saw Puck sitting in the breezeway of the Del Mar Motel, located at 1702 Coast Highway.

When Puck first went missing, Wiester approached the Del Mar City Council to inform them of his efforts.

“We are sensitive to the face that many people do not want a lot of signs hanging around town, but the council was really supportive of the signs,” said a volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous. “When Puck is found, every flyer and poster will be taken down with a big smile. We have no intention of leaving them up.”

Puck is mostly black, with a white chest and white paw. He stands about 19 inches tall and the naturally-spiked hair on his head resembles a mohawk.

Puck is 8 years old and shares many special memories with Wiester, including the time he led his owner to a lost trail at night while working a rescue.

“He saved my life,” said Wiester. “If I didn’t have him, there would have been a search and rescue for me.”

If you see Puck, please do not chase him. Leave food if possible and immediately call (970) 445-0033.

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  2. Amber Dubois’ family hosting search-rescue classes
  3. Dive teams search Lake Hodges in search for missing Poway teen
  4. Coast Guard calls off search from missing swimmer at Torrey Pines
  5. Missing Del Mar surfer found safe at home

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Posted by Staff on Sep 30, 2011. Filed under Carmel Valley, Del Mar, News, Solana Beach, carmel valley. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

4 Comments for “Efforts remain strong to bring home missing search, rescue dog”

  1. Heather

    Why was the dog trained to run away from people? Also- why is Puck missing to begin with? Does the dog have a microchip?

    • Pam J

      Here is the scoop on Puck.. (From Facebook BRING PUCK HOME)
      He is a retired decorated Search and Rescue Dog who has saved lives (oh, poor guy needs rescue now!)
      He is trained to not allow anyone touch him. This is because in rescue situations, people panic and grab at the rescue dog, etc. He only responds to Paul and his girlfriend, Anna.
      Paul’s girlfriend, Anna was with Puck at Del Mar Dog Beach on Thursday, July 14. Between 7-8 pm .. when the waves came in, Anna, went up on the rocks so she wouldn’t be engulfed by the waves. Puck just went up the beach and waited at the street for her. A good Samaritan thought he was a stray and tried to approach him and “save” him. But, Puck, knowing he is not allowed to be touched, scooted away, which then made the good Samaritan chase him. He ended up getting chased all the way up Via De La Valle Rd and into the Flower Hill Shopping Center where Puck then disappeared.
      Paul does not live in this area, so it is not likely Puck would find his way home.
      Puck is trained to walk on the sidewalks, wait at the intersections and look both ways for cars. This is a very smart boy.
      Although he is not scared of people, he knows he needs to keep his distance.
      He is not treat motivated but goes crazy for frizbees.
      He loves horses.
      Puck is Paul's "soulmate pet." They have been together for 7 years now and Paul is devastasted.

    • Paul

      Hi Heather, Puck is trained not to be touched or picked up. While searching for lost hikers he can be as far from me as an half a mile. If the hikers are desperate they usually try to pick the dog up and hope the owners will find them. Puck has to return to me to take me to the lost people.
      Good samaratins thought he was loose and proceded to chase him not knowing he was trained this way.
      He is microchipped.

  2. Stephanie

    Heather, he was not "trained to run away from people' specifically…it's part of the training for a search-and-rescue dog. Puck has been missing since July 14th so if you're new to the story, to answer your question "why is Puck missing to begin with" just look at all the stories, signs, news articles, et cetera … He was at Dog Beach in Del Mar with his owners and was "spooked" by a big wave that came crashing up. So he ran to to the top of the beach to wait for his "people" but a kindly stranger, who thought he was lost, tried to help and accidentally "chased" Puck away. He's been spotted around town. We need to keep the faith for Paul & Anna & Puck and keep looking for him and try to get him home!

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