Elsa’s 13-day (mis)adventure

By on July 27, 2016

“As she got a little closer, her tail started waging and Lisa knew that Elsa recognized her.”

Elsa, the lost and found dog

Elsa, the lost and found dog

You may have noticed flyers posted around town seeking the public’s help in finding Elsa, a Havanese dog who took off July 5 ­ the day of the postponed Independence Day fireworks show.

Elsa leaped through the open car window of her owners, Lisa and Greg Schmuck, who were driving their new vehicle on Main and Apple Street Street

“She fell out of a car window that Lisa thought she was shutting but on her new car was actually opening,” said Bonnie Richardson, a family friend who helped post flyers and initiate elaborate tracking methods to find Elsa.

The soon-to-be 3-year-old, named after the lioness in the movie Born Free, embarked on a 13-day romp around Ephrata. Though spotted many times during the nearly two-week journey, Elsa sightings were reported on a nearly daily basis.

“She ran down Route 322 on the road, running against traffic from Apple Street straight down to near the Cloisters without stopping,” Richardson said. “This was a one mile run that included the very busy intersection at Academy Drive.”

Lisa, who operates Lisa’s Hair & Beyond salon , 814 Dawn Avewas able to follow Elsa by car till she lost sight of her in the grassy area to the left of Papa John near the busy intersection of routes 272 and 322.

That night, she searched for Elsa until 1 a.m., well after the loud whistles, booms, crackles, and exploding fireworks display had finished and started a scary evening alone for Elsa.

But the sightings reports had begun even before Elsa’s family and friends had posted a single flyer and photo.

“A lawn maintenance crew (July 5) at around 3 p.m. were within two feet of Elsa before she bolted out the back of Fieldcrest development,” Lisa said. “This places her very near the location where fireworks were being set off from in the Lincoln Heights area.”

This was immediately after she got away from owner. The family learned of the initial sighting Thurs., July 7, while posting flyers.

“They indicated she seemed exhausted and was panting at a very fast pace (which is) naturally to be expected after her one-mile run,” she said.

As the days went on the family created a map with push pins recording all sightings.

Richardson created a “blue area” of a one-mile radius which documented Elsa’s travels using an app called freemaptools.com.

“It was an awesome tool for us to help us to know where to hang our flyers,” she said.

Various flyers were developed throughout the 13 days beginning with the original black and white flyer.

Richardson said the family worried about some of the flyers that offered a reward “because people chasing Elsa caused her to be stressed and to move locations.”

That’s when the family developed “Team Elsa” who helped facilitate a tracking network which produced these reports:

July 6: Sighted near tennis courts on Marie Avenue

July 7: No sightings

July 8-10: Various sightings at or near playground near the intersection of Valerie and Martin avenues by children playing at the playground

July 8-10: More sightings of Elsa going in and out of cornfields that go from behind the playground to Pleasantview Road and up to the water tower and the Garden Spot Auto Auction.

July 8-10: Sighted again on Pleasantview Road “doing her business” in the yard of Mary Hertzog, who later welcomed Lisa to her home to watch for Elsa.

July 11: A “stake out” started at 6:30 a.m. when Mary Hertzog opened her home and backyard to allow Lisa to set up Elsa’s kennel, a trapping cage in her backyard, and a sitting area for Lisa under a tree to try to capture Elsa when she came to do her business around 9 a.m. The plan failed however, “Elsa did not cooperate and at 7:45 a.m. Lisa received a call about a sighting off Hummer Road.”

July 11: Sighted in cornfields near Marilyn Avenue and Hummer Road.

July 11-13 Various sightings still in Marilyn Avenue area off Joann Avenue; on July 12, Greg Schmuck, spotted her but Elsa “didn’t recognize him and bolted.” On (July 13) Elsa again was spotted by her owners but she ran off again in fear.

July 14: Spotted at a cornfield near Sensenig Roofing, 183 S Market St, and the “No Trespassing” road back to Ephrata Area School District buildings on Thomas Road.

July 15: On Friday, heading into the second weekend, there were no sightings.

July 16: Two sightings on Saturday on Marilyn Avenue by nearby cornfields and later off Fieldcrest Drive “laying in the grass under a resident’s tree.”

July 17: Elsa spotted again back on Marilyn Avenue cornfields and later in a backyard on Susan Circle backyard along the cornfields there.

On that Sunday, Lisa and Greg responded to late afternoon sightings and spoke to those who sighted Elsa near a cornfield off Marilyn Avenue and Hummer Road. Lisa started walking around the edge of cornfield toward Lincoln Heights while Greg walked to Fieldcrest Drive.

Greg spotted her in the soybean field near Fieldcrest, “but she turned back into the soybean field,” Richardson said. He then started walking back along edge of cornfield toward Lincoln Heights playground.

As they neared each other, Greg spotted Elsa and told Lisa to “get down and turn around.” Lisa kneeled called Elsa’s name, she said.

“Elsa was very cautious at first and went back into the cornfield. That’s when Greg entered the cornfield to try to push her out again,” she said.

Elsa came back out at the same spot. Lisa stayed sitting on the ground talking and coaxing Elsa.

“As she got a little closer her tail started waging and Lisa knew that Elsa recognized her,” Richardson said. “Elsa ran to Lisa.”

This happy ending was made possible by a host of volunteers and professional, some dedicated to finding lost pets, she said.

In the end Elsa was found to be very dehydrated, with lacerations on the tops of her front and rear paws; many open wounds on front legs “most likely from continually licking herself due to stress” while missing her family.


Patrick Burns is social media editor and a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.


  1. People/Organizations that were part of what became known as “Team Elsa”
  2. Help Find Sophie
  3. Posted Elsa’s missing on their Facebook site
  4. Faxed “Lost” flyer to all local veterinarians, including Hinkletown and Lititz
  5. Leo’s Helping Paws
  6. Joyce and Dave Wilhide
  7. Rhonda Landis, Dog Rescuer
  8. Help Find Toby, Harrisburg, PA, Glenda Rupert, who Rhonda contacted and referred Lisa and Greg to Steve
  9. Steve Hagey of Detect-A-Pet Lost Pet Services, based in Hatfield, PA – expert with knowledge of how to get dogs out of a cornfield
  10. Agway loaning of traps
  11. Beth Ludwig Director of The Last Dog Rescue in Red Lion PA – loaned 24 hr video camera to be placed on top of the cage
  12. SherlockBones.com that taught us how to market our product,
  13. Spend your time marketing your product and not on trying to locate Elsa yourself; let your buyers
  14. Our product – missing dog named Elsa

iii.            Buyers – People interested in helping a small, scared, little dog

  1. Get your product known to everyone – flyers, flyers, and more flyers everywhere in a 1 mile radius of where she was lost
  2. Ephrata Police
  3. Ephrata School District Maintenance personnel
  4. Local postmen in various development and on the roads
  5. Friends/family helped distribute
  6. Strangers who saw through Facebook that flyers were available to pick up stopped by Lisa’s Hair & Beyond salon to get flyers to help distribute
  7. Above are examples, list is not all inclusive
  8. Get feedback on your product – sightings of Elsa reported by your buyers
  9. Remarket your product to smaller segmented group in that geographic area – New flyers delivered door to door around the most recent sighting location and revised flyers on telephone poles, light poles, and mailboxes in smaller area.  Flyers were updated daily and hung over older versions so people knew she was still missing and what the latest suggestions were from the experts helping us

vii.          Over 1,000 flyers produced and distributed

  1. Facebook Sites
  2. Lisa’s personal page
  3. Ephrata Review page

iii.            Help Find Sophie page

  1. Traps with camera surveillance
  2. Set up in cornfields and various backyards
  3. Lisa’s recently worn clothing were placed in trap to entice Elsa to enter trap
  4. Attached camera that took still shots every time there was any movement
  5. Camera took clear pictures even at night
  6. Used a SD card to record pictures to determine if Elsa was
  7. Alternated SD cards so they could look at all pictures and still have camera recording
  8. Elsa’s health at rescue and a few days later
  9. Very dehydrated
  10. Laceration on top of front and rear paws
  11. Many open wounds on front legs most likely from continually licking herself due to stress while missing her mom
  12. She is healing well after a visit to her vet, Conestoga Animal Hospital
  13. Her wounds are starting to heal
  14. She is back to her old self: loving, playful, and alert to everything
  15. Little fun facts, interesting facts, and sayings we have heard
  16. A mom called Lisa one day to see if Elsa was found because every day her 7 year old boy asked if Elsa was found
  17. Children everywhere wanted to help find little Elsa
  18. Elsa’s home, mom’s hair salon, and all sightings were within a 1 mile radius
  19. Parents and volunteers cars were termed “Elsa rescue mobiles” stocked with flyers, staple guns, water, her favorite treats, a leash, a spare collar, binoculars, fish net, towels, first aid items, etc.
  20. Lisa slept in her clothing so she was ready to respond at any hour of the night
  21. Elsa was within .134 miles or 235 yards from her mom’s hair salon at 814 Dawn Ave when she ended her run down Rt 322
  22. Despite Elsa’s original run of 1 mile, Elsa’s home, mom’s work, and all of her sightings were within a 1 mile radius
  23. Hide and Seek is not necessarily a fun game
  24. Never knew there were so many cornfields in the middle of developments in Ephrata!!
  25. Lisa’s used underwear was placed in the trap to help lure Elsa into the trap!
  26. Take me home country roads
  27. Elsa, The wanderer
  28. Lost, but not forgotten
  29. Catch me if you can
  30. Lessons Learned
  31. Strap your dog into the car when traveling
  32. DO NOT CHASE LOST ANIMALS – is causes them to be stressed
  33. Certain dog organizations do not keep dogs very long before they are put down so you must call them frequently
  34. Get people involved with flyers and sightings instead of exhausting yourself trying to find a needle in a cornfield!!!
  35. Elsa now has her own car seat so she can look out the car window, feel the fresh air, and be safely belted into her car seat.
  36. Quote – Lisa and Greg would like to thank everyone from the bottom, top, and middle of their heart. A big thanks to everyone who was looking out for Elsa by walking and keeping their eyes open. We hope everyone learns from this experience.  So many people were out walking and helping to try to catch a glimpse of Elsa to report to Lisa. Our love to all who has shown their love to us and especially to Elsa.
  37. It takes a Village to raise a child; In this case is took a Village to bring Elsa home to her parents



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