A Davenport dog had a rough weekend. A 7-year-old border collie, Laddy, vanished from his home in the McClellan Heights area sometime early Friday. Though his yard contains an Invisible Fence, which is an electronic boundary, the battery in his collar wasn't working.
Laddy evidently saw his chance.
"I was beside myself," Cynthia Weeks said of discovering her family was missing a member. "We went around calling for him, and I drove around. I put it on my Facebook pages, and we put fliers out around the neighborhood."
Two days later, early Sunday morning, Ron Stevenson was working in his yard a couple of blocks away when he heard something that had been bugging him.
"I'd been hearing this dog barking, but I didn't want to be a complaining neighbor and, besides, my wife and I are dog lovers," he said Monday. "When I was outside early Sunday, I heard a whining, and I knew something wasn't right. This time, it sounded in distress."
When following the sound of a dog, Stevenson noted, it is counter-intuitive to look up. But there was Laddy — at least 10 feet up a tree near his driveway.
"He was kind of shielded by leaves on the tree," he said.
Stevenson called 911, cautiously explaining the situation to police. He could understand a dispatcher's skepticism.
"They got here pretty fast, but I was getting impatient," he said. "I didn't know if the dog would bite me, but I just sort of shimmmied up the tree. I grabbed him by the collar and sort of pulled him. I said, 'It's time for you to get out of this tree.'
"I had taken a picture, thank goodness. I showed it to the police when they got there, of course. By then, I'm standing there with a dog I had reported being up a tree."
Laddy's luck kept getting better.
"Officer Randy (Gard) had seen one of the family's fliers, and he knew where the dog lived," Stevenson said. "He said he'd take him home."
At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Weeks was reading a book when she got the call.
"He said he was with the police department, and I started yelling, and said, 'Do you have him?'" she said. "I asked where they found him, and the officer said, 'You'll never believe this.'
"If he didn't have that photo, I'm not sure I would have believed it."
No one knows exactly how or why Laddy ended up in a tree, but Weeks said it likely is related to his interest in squirrels and fondness for chasing things. Stevenson noted the mature oak tree grew at an angle, giving the dog a good platform for running upward but making for a daunting trip back down.
"People will stop and watch Laddy when he's playing Frisbee in the yard, because he's so fast and so agile," she said. "He is persistent, needless to say. Border collies are built for stamina."
His breed evidently served him well, because a trip to the vet's office Monday revealed a few abrasions on the pads of his feet, but Laddy is otherwise fine.
"He was pretty subdued when he got home," she said. "He's been doing a ton of sleeping."
Someone else in the Weeks family missed Laddy, she said: "You could tell the cat knew something was amiss."