MODESTO — From the emails and voice mails:
INCREDIBLE JOURNEY For several weeks, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid roamed the streets of Modesto.
No, they werent heading to Bolivia to rob banks. Butch and Sundance, in this case, are a pair of small, white male mixed-breed dogs possibly even brothers first noticed in mid-January and tracked by friends of a Facebook page for lost and found dogs.
The pages title, appropriately, Lost & Found Pets and Misc Animal Info (Modesto, Ceres, and Turlock), and one posting alone about them drew 226 comments about their sightings and their plight.
They were spotted, at different times, on Carpenter Road, on Pelandale Avenue, on the east side of Highway 99 and on the west side, too. Those following this diminutive wild bunch included Cheri Santos and Tamra Helton of Compassionate Pet Sanctuary Inc., a nonprofit rescue group in Modesto.
No one seems to know where the dogs came from. Were they dumped in a neighborhood, left to fend for themselves? Abandoned when their owners moved away? Are they the Hole-in-the-Fence Gang, finding an opening and embarking on an adventure?
Its amazing they have stayed together, Helton said. Theyve been all over the place and werent injured. I havent seen so many (postings) on Facebook in a long time. They were really, really lucky.
And really, really evasive. Frequently, people would try to approach them. But while Sundance is friendly and submissive, Butch is very protective of his presumed little brother.
On March 1, Modesto police animal control officer Kera Bennett received two calls about 10 minutes apart. Butch and Sundance had been spotted first at Dale Road and Pelandale, then at Bangs and Dale roads, near Kaiser Modesto Medical Center. When she arrived, she was told that one person had tried to get close to them, but that Butch wouldnt allow it.
They were laying down in the grass, Bennett said. One (Butch) was really protective. So I grabbed the snare and got that one. The other (Sundance) just rolled on his back so you could pat his belly.
She took the dogs to animal control, where people such as Paula Stockebrand recognized them from photos posted of the animals in the center.
The Compassionate Pet Sanctuary folks went to get them. Butch was again protective so much so that a worker at animal control asked Helton if she was sure she wanted to take both.
She was, and did.
The group has been hosting pet adoptions at PetSmart on Sisk Road for about 2½ years and has adopted out roughly 600 pets during that time, Santos said.
Last weekend, Butch and Sundance were on display. The group wants to find a new owner who will keep them together. Butch displayed some of his protectiveness, and didnt have a great day. No one claimed them. So theyre staying with Helton, who is working with them and particularly with Butch to gain his trust.
We dont know their backgrounds, she said. Theres so much dumping going on in the county. No ones stepped up to claim them. (Butch) is coming around. Hes going to need someone who can give him time and attention.
Until then, theyve got a roof over their heads, three squares and plenty of people who care.
It beats the street. Or the dusty trail.
TO THE RESCUE Several years ago, the economic downtown made some horse owners choose between feeding their families or their animals, which meant the horses paid a dear price in terms of starvation, abuse or abandonment. Out of that came several horse rescue organizations, some of which are still operating as nonprofits.
This year, the economy might be better, but the price of hay is expected to soar beyond $20 a bale because of drought conditions that could limit the supply. With that in mind, a trio of registered veterinary technicians are launching Autumn Rein Equine Rescue, a nonprofit organization a few miles north of Waterford on Ellenwood Road.
Tim McDaniel, Dawn Price and Cathy Gile have filed papers with the Internal Revenue Service to create their nonprofit and are looking for financial help to get their corrals and fences in order. They are anticipating another spike in the need for horse care, and plan to be there for the animals in need. Visit their website at autumnreinequinerescue.org.
DO-SI-DO Allemande left down Highway 99 to the California State Square Dance Convention, which will come to Turlock for the first time April 10-13. The event is expected to draw roughly 1,000 folks to the Stanislaus County Fairground. Among the participants will be clubs from the Central California Square Dance Association, which includes groups from Merced, Modesto, Oakdale, Sonora, Soulsbyville and Turlock.
DOWN TO SIX Several months ago, I wrote about Janna Hoehn of Hawaii, who had taken it upon herself to locate photos of all of the Americans from California who died in Vietnam during the war. Stanislaus County lost 32, and shes found photos of 26 of them, which shes forwarding to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, known as The Wall. They will be displayed online on sites for The Wall and also at the education center that will be built next to The Wall on the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C. Still missing are: James R. Lewis (1947-1969), Neal A. Rasmussen (1931-1996), Daniel J. Ryan (1949-1967) and Donald C. Vaughn (1946-1966), all of Modesto; Gunther H. Rehling (1936-1969) of Oakdale; and Antonio Silva (1949-1970) of Westley. If you have photos of any of these men, or know someone who does, you can reach Hoehn at email@example.com.