(Story by: Esther Altorfer)

In September 2021, we adopted Lamu from TNR Trust. He was the perfect dog: gentle, clean and playful, in other words: a wonderful family dog. We enjoyed going on hikes with him out on the Ngong hills and runs in the forest, letting him off the leash progressively because we trusted him. Running around the forest, Lamu couldn’t be happier. 

On the 16th of October, I took up a challenge to run the 20k track at Ngong forest accompanied by Lamu and a friend.  15 km in, Lamu unexpectedly disappeared. We immediately started a search led by the helpful rangers and some friends. Unfortunately we couldn’t find him, leaving me desperate and sad.

Many sightings of Lamu were reported. Night after night, we searched in the neighbourhoods surrounding the forest. We got our hopes up when someone informed us they caught him, but the dog they had was not our dear Lamu.

Nimi (a TNR Trust volunteer) went all out printing posters for distribution and week after week, my husband and I were up at the crack of dawn driving to the forest looking for him. I’d receive calls every weekend but no one could catch him as he kept running away in fear. They said he looked skinny and seemed to be limping. We left food, socks and t-shirts in the forest.

Nimi even acquired a dog cage from KSPCA to try and trap him, but nothing worked. Distressed and an emotional wreck, I was ready to give up. 5 weeks into the ordeal, word came through Carla that he was spotted at the Ngong Race Course. His beaded collar and TNR name tag helped spotters to positively identify him- even from a distance. We organized for someone to go by each day and Ali (Nimi’s employee) reported seeing Lamu asleep under a tree. I went twice that week, but still could not get a glimpse of him.

Saturday November 27th. A friend and I went back to run the unfinished 20k track. My husband was away for work. I looked out for Lamu before starting the run, but no luck. Later that day I went back to the racecourse. Carla had organized for her friend Kibondi to bring along a drone, 2 rangers and a volunteer named Jane. Awed by Carla’s enthusiasm and organization, my dwindling hope was sparked.

Fully equipped and with fresh energy, we embarked on a new search quest to bring Lamu back home. Nicolas (the ranger) and I went into the forest close to the tree Ali had seen him and there he was! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I kneeled down and asked Nicolas not to move. I burst into tears and sobbed when Lamu came running to me. We cuddled and I gave him food, put on his leash and called my husband who shared in my emotion and couldn’t wait to come back home. After 6 weeks on his own in the forest, Lamu was covered in ticks, limping and had lost 2kgs. All the sleepless nights and emotional rollercoasters were worth it when when we arrived back home, Lamu with his tail wagging and me in tears.

I am so incredibly thankful to the TNR team, especially Nimi and Carla, whose determination and support kept me going. And to the Ngong Forest rangers and the race course personnel who were extremely kind and helpful. We still go back to Ngong forest, although Lamu stays on a leash until he’s fully trained on recall! Lesson drawn: never give up hope, crazy things can happen in the most desperate looking situation.

finally reunited
Kibondi and the Rangers extremely helpful team
Lamu showing off his beaded collar

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