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Pet Detective Says Farmington Valley Family's Dog Was Killed by Coyotes

When their beloved Boston terrier ran away, Louanne and George Caspar used private investigator Karin TarQwyn's Lost Pet Professionals dog tracking service to search for her.

Avon_When Avon residents Louanne and George Caspar’s Boston terrier Coconut went missing, they hired a private investigator to help find her.

The self-proclaimed “CSI for missing dogs” business, Lost Pet Professionals — owned by Karin TarQwyn, a Nebraska native, according to its website — determined something tragic; Coconut, 10, was killed by coyotes.

“Coconut was one of the best dogs you could have ever had and she didn’t deserve to be killed,” said the Caspars' daughter, Caroline, 9, who used to let Coconut sleep in her bed and often dressed her up in outfits.

The Caspars’ dog — who was very popular with their friends and family — got loose from the house two weeks ago.

The Caspars Share Memories of Coconut

“She was this very patient, Buddha-like dog,” said Louanne Caspar, who compared her to the dog who is like a human stuck in a dog’s body in the book, The Art of Racing in the Rain. “She would stomp for attention to be onto your lap and be cuddled.”

The Caspars contacted Animal Control Officer Beverly LaPlume to report that Coconut was missing, put up flyers, spread the word on Facebook, offered a reward for anyone who could find her and called their veterinarian’s office at Animal General in Avon.

Coconut — who the family got from a pet store in Philadelphia when she was four months old — was “fearless for food” and loved naps. Caspar recalled one time throwing a snack to a large dog only to see little Coconut jump through the air and catch it instead.

But Coconut also liked to take care of people, staying by the side of Louanne’s father until he passed away in 2003 in Clarks Green, PA.

You could pick her up and put her anywhere for a picture. A photo the Caspars submitted for Patch's Top Dog Contest shows her sitting in a swing.

“She had this really big goofy grin and the most perfectly crooked teeth,” Caspar said.

If you lose your dog, Avon is the place to be because the outreach from the community was incredible, Caspar said. Neighborhood kids offered to go door to door with flyers and Caroline’s classmates and staff at Pine Grove School also kept an eye out for Coconut to turn up.

The Caspars Turn to Pet Detective for Help

When George Caspar searched on Google for other resources to help find Coconut, he said he was very wary of the many scams out there that just want to take advantage of the desperation of people trying to find their pets and the possibility of reviews with false praise. But when he came across TarQwyn’s Lost Pet Professionals, he saw that the business was in her name, there was a photograph of TarQwyn on the website and there was a phone number posted. When he called her, she didn’t try to sell him anything extra.

TarQwyn sent Jordina Thorp Ghiggeri, her Weston-based field agent and a K9 handler, with dogs Brodie and Nash to Avon to search for Coconut more than a week ago. First, Ghiggeri asked the Caspars to gather “specimens” from around the house, from fur to toys, that carried Coconut’s scent.

The field agent had one of the dogs smell the items and sent it out from the Caspars’ Old Wood Road home to follow the scent. The dog ran through neighbors’ back yards on her street and Daventry Hill Road, into the woods and onto the Farmington Valley Greenway bike trail by Oakengates. The dog stopped near a wetland area between Thompson Road and Brickyard Road. Then Ghiggeri sent the other dog out to follow Coconut’s smell from Old Wood and it led her to the same place.

There is a coyote den closer to the Brickyard Road side, Louanne Caspar said. Ghiggeri found fur and teeth that matched Coconut’s DNA in coyote scat. The dog tracking pet detective service cost the Caspars $500.

While that was not the result that the Caspars were hoping for, George Caspar said that not knowing would have been worse.

“The thing that was the most beneficial was that we got closure on the situation,” Caspar said.

Preventing Future Coyote Attacks

Caspar, an Avon native, lived here for 25 years before he and his wife moved back. He said that he doesn’t remember hearing about any dogs being killed by coyotes growing up. As a kid, if his family let its dog out or the dog escaped, it would come back safely.

But he’s noticed more wildlife near residential areas in town. Their other dog, Huey, 13, a Jack Russell terrier-Sheltie mix, was attacked by a coyote a few months ago.

“We’re happy that [Huey’s] okay,” Louanne Caspar said. “He’s still looking around for Coconut.”

The Caspars said they want to protect other dogs from this fate and caution owners not to let their dogs out unsupervised in the evening or in the early morning when it is dark. If your dog goes missing, Caspar recommends calling LaPlume at Animal Control (860-409-4205), putting as many flyers up as possible, posting information on Facebook and calling local shelters and veterinarian offices.

Judith October 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Our most-loved and sadly missed little Maltese, Louis, was killed by a coyote in our front yard last December. Our toy poodle tried to fight him off and came to the doorstep with coyote fur in his mouth. He is still traumatized by the incident.
Karen's Dog Training Blog October 22, 2012 at 11:55 AM
So tragic. My heart goes out to you at the loss of your dogs. Sadly this happens a lot with the coyotes.......
lisa vanderploeg October 22, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I know this isn't the forum for this but we found an Australian Shepherd in Waterford if anyone knows of someone missing it
Highway Worker October 22, 2012 at 02:56 PM
My dogs are microchipped. I post on my FB page when one gets loose and ends up missing. I have an invisible fence and will not let them out after dark with out me there because of Coyotes. But we have a resident fox so I am not as concerned about Coyotes at the moment. I carry shovels and a plastic bottle with the bottom cut out to help me listen for my dogs in case they are stuck someplace.
Steve October 22, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I would be highly suspcious of claims by someone using a search dog as a pet detective. Rarely are their dogs certified by any credible standard, such as those used by police and official Search and Rescue organizations. Self proclaimed Pet Detectives with search dogs make grave errors in handling and are far too quick to claim animal death or pickup as a reason for closure. Many times they are searching for scent that has aged too much for a contiguous trail to exist. Furthermore, finding hair fibers in coyote scat is a baseless claim. A coyote attack will occur a full day before defecation. The attack site and the scat are too often assumed to be in the nearly same location. Anyone told that their pet has been killed by someone using a search dog should continue their search for more credible evidence and utilize large posters in the community. More often than not, our dogs and cats survive better than humans tend to think.
Rebecca Strempfer October 25, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Very Sorry to hear the sad ending of your dog. We are going through a similar situation. My son has a lost beagle in simsbury that has been on the loose since 9/11/12, and was last seen on West Mountain rd in simsbury. She is skinny & starving but won't stop for a person to catch her, and continual reports of sightings gives us hope but makes us more anxious. I don't think anyone could have detective dogs good enough to find her. She has put on over 100 miles spread out through simsbury, and continues to survive and be seen. Her scent is too broadly spread out all over town at this point

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