GRAPEVINE -- Tee Time is getting a mulligan.
Grapevine city officials said Monday afternoon that they had called off their hunt for Tee Time, a white terrier who has lived a quasi-wild existence at the Grapevine Golf Course since 2007.
The dog has befriended many golfers over the years, but a few weeks ago she bit a course patron on the finger -- and has since been the subject of an intensive search.
During that time, an animal control officer shot Tee Time at least twice with tranquilizer darts, but she eluded capture before the drug took effect. That technique angered golfers and employees, who felt that the city was slowly killing Tee Time by weakening her and exposing her to harm from wild animals that also inhabit the 27-hole course.
So on Monday, officials said they would call off the search for good and allow the dog to continue roaming the course.
"We've gotten a legal interpretation that it's OK to leave Tee Time alone," City Manager Bruno Rumbelow told the Star-Telegram.
A city ordinance requires that when a dog bite breaks the skin, the dog must be quarantined for 10 days to observe whether the animal has rabies. But Rumbelow noted that the 10-day period had expired while Tee Time was on the lam. Also, he said, many golfers and animal control officers who encountered Tee Time during that time reported that she displayed no symptoms of rabies.
Rumbelow did not say whether the unidentified golfer who suffered the bite had sought medical treatment. The golfer was bitten after reaching for Tee Time, who had been trapped in a drainage culvert on the course and apparently was simply spooked.
Tee Time is no longer considered a stray, Rumbelow said, citing the new legal opinion.
"If she lives on the golf course, she's not technically running at large. It's fenced in," Rumbelow said.
A group of golfers has agreed to catch Tee Time on their own and take her to a veterinarian for vaccinations. She can then be returned to the golf course to roam freely, he said.
Golfers often give Tee Time treats during their rounds. The pooch has also a reputation for obeying golf course etiquette, such as not running on the greens or barking during a player's swing.
Many of those supporters agonized last week as the city's animal control staff pursued her.
The golfers said Tee Time appeared weak and, because she had become afraid of approaching humans on the golf course, was not eating well.
"I doubt she is now strong enough to outrun coyotes, as she has in the past," said John Dewey, a golf course regular who last saw Tee Time early Saturday morning.
Kristie Wildoner, who operates a beverage cart on the course, said Tee Time had learned to hide from the animal control truck.
"We see her ears peeking out of the woods every now and then," said Wildoner, who added that area residents who don't even play golf had taken to visiting the course to feed and care for Tee Time.
"Everybody loves her so much," Wildoner said. "I hate what's been going on."
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796