McPHERSON COUNTY — It's not every fugitive who, after being captured, receives a vigorous belly rub.
But Domino was no ordinary fugitive.
The 4-year-old black and white border collie-labrador mix had made a daring escape from a crate at a McPherson County rest stop while being transported from Texas to a new home in Seattle. And despite the best efforts of volunteers from Texas, Kansas and Washington, as well as a series of drones and trail cameras, Domino continued to elude capture for the next three months, hiding out in yards, farm fields and streets in and around Lindsborg.
When he finally was cornered in the front yard of a home in the 300 block of North Roosevelt Street in Lindsborg, Domino gave up without a fight. He collapsed in front of his captors and rolled onto his back as if to say, "I give up, so give me a belly rub."
The journey that began on Aug. 3 ended happily on Saturday when Domino's new owner, Seattle resident Katie Aretz, flew in from Seattle to take him to his new home.
Aretz picked Domino up from the McPherson Animal Shelter, where the still surprisingly healthy dog was being kept and treated. Although Aretz adopted Domino in August, this was the first time they had met.
"He was still a little bit in survival mode when I got there, but he knew his name and was happy," she said.
No one was more happy to unite Domino with his new owner than local volunteers and animal shelter personnel, who had spent long months tracking and trying to capture him.
"For what he had been through, he was in excellent condition," said Rhonda Starks, a staff member at the McPherson Animal Shelter. "I got involved because that's who I am. Just him being on the loose broke my heart. I was going to do anything I could to save him."
Domino's odyssey began when he was saved from a high-kill shelter in Garland, Texas, by the national Western Australian Shepherd Rescue, which also rescues border collies and other herding dogs. After a temporary stay in a foster home in the Dallas area, Domino was adopted by Aretz, who found him through the application Petfinder.
"I wanted an older, medium-sized dog because I live in an apartment," she said. "I came upon Domino, and he had such sweet, brown, soulful eyes. I submitted an application and spoke to his foster mom, who told me he was very, very sweet."
Domino was put in a crate and sent on his way to Seattle through a transport company van the rescue group previously had used, said Melinda Atkinson, Texas coordinator for the rescue group.
"They stopped at a rest stop near McPherson and had to move the crates so they could walk the dogs," she said. "He somehow got his way out of the crate and took off. They tried to find him, but they had a lot of dogs and couldn't stop long to look for him."
For the next few months, Domino was spotted in areas around McPherson County, but he never sat still long enough to be captured. Although Domino was a friendly dog, he also was in survival mode and would run away if approached.
Volunteers in the area united to try to capture him. Lost-dog posters were distributed throughout the county, and a Facebook Messenger group was formed to coordinate efforts. Use was made of local drones and tracking devices to monitor Domino's whereabouts, but he was always one step — or paw — ahead of them.
"He even rolled in cow manure to mask his scent from coyotes," Starks said.
Aretz said she flew to Kansas for several days to join in the search but never even caught sight of Domino.
"I had hope, since he kept getting spotted in the same areas," she said. "Everyone in the area was incredible. They told all their neighbors. Everyone was looking for him."
Lindsborg volunteer Ro Heart, who heads a volunteer cat trap, neuter and release organization called Cats of Lindsborg, joined the search for Domino on Aug. 22. She spotted him, followed him in her car and even offered him the food she usually left out for stray cats.
"He ate it and then took off again," she said.
At Roosevelt Street, volunteer searcher Sarah Neustrom Becker spotted Domino, got down on her hands and knees and beckoned him. Becker's 10-year-old son was next to her, Heart said, and Domino likes children, so he crossed the street and approached them. When he got close enough, Becker was able to grab his collar.
When that happened, Heart said, Domino "just laid down. He didn't try to get away."
Domino was taken to the McPherson Animal Shelter, where he was treated for worms and skin issues but otherwise given a clean bill of health, Starks said. He also was microchipped for identification in case he ever is lost again.
After receiving the call that Domino finally had been captured, Aretz said she started crying in relief.
"I was so afraid he had died or had been taken in by some other family by then," she said.
Aretz flew to Kansas and finally met her new companion Saturday. Domino began to "talk" as soon as she walked in the door. The next day, Aretz and Domino took off in a rental car to begin their new life together in the Pacific Northwest. Aretz said she chose not to transport Domino in an airplane.
"I didn't want him put in a cage again," she said.