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News / Life / Pets & Wildlife

Nomadic dog captures hearts in Spokane

By Alexandra Duggan, The Spokesman-Review
Published: February 2, 2024, 6:00am

SPOKANE — The dog was skinny, scrounging for food and wandering aimlessly around the South Hill in late December. So Natasha Cleveland made it her mission to save her.

The female black Labrador mix known as “Onyx” has been seen all over the area, starting with the South Perry district. Neighbors have put food out on their porches for the dog, who they’ve tried to capture but with no luck. On apps like NextDoor and other social media, Cleveland has been diligent about sharing her photos and last known location to keep tabs on the dog after she first saw Onyx walking up her street.

“I went over with kibble, and it went from there. We are trying to get her to keep going back for food and shelter,” Cleveland said.

But Onyx is skittish. She has been roaming neighborhoods and wooded areas for five weeks, only to bolt when someone tries to get close to her. She’ll occasionally appear on a neighbor’s porch, visible through the home’s Ring camera, just to leave once again after eating the food that has been left out.

“We think she’s in survival mode. It changes their brain,” Cleveland said. “It’s made it so hard to rescue her.”

Cleveland was told the previous owner had rehomed the dog, which is how she discovered what her name was. But Cleveland is skeptical about Onyx’s backstory — the dog is anxious and seems to be terrified by any sort of care, a potential sign of trauma.

Annemarie Dorn, a South Hill resident, is working with Cleveland to try and save Onyx. Dorn said the dog has recently been seen on 31st Avenue near Grand Boulevard. Onyx has traveled up Dorn’s street on 16th Avenue near Rockwood, all the way to Fourth Avenue. She’s journeyed as far as Dishman Mica road and up to Tower Mountain, which is about 9 miles from the South Hill neighborhood. The most effective way residents are tracking Onyx is through their Ring cameras and sharing the photos, so as she moves from porch to porch, Dorn knows she’s still alive.

“This dog is a traveler,” Dorn said. “She feels safe here. … But she just runs. I was outside at night once, and I called her name. She stopped and looked, but then she was on the move. She is in flight mode.”

If Onyx is captured, a resident plans to foster her until she is adopted, Cleveland said. The priority at the moment is making sure she is safe, fed and taken to a veterinarian. “The power of dog lovers on the South Hill has been amazing,” Cleveland said. “We have to do our best to get her where we can trap her and help her.”