For those of you who follow me on my Facebook page or follow the Lost Shelties MN page, you already know the good news. Sunny, the Sheltie lost in Maple Grove, Minnesota, is now safely home in Ohio. After 96 days and 23 miles, he was reunited with his dad on Friday evening. It was a very special moment and one I am sure Sunny’s dad and family won’t forget.
For those of you who don’t know the story, I think you will find this worth reading. It is a good example of how important it is to get the word out… AND just how to do it.
Before I share Sunny’s story from beginning to end (My thanks to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN and Mary McTie for letting me share this!), I would like to thank all of the people who helped in his successful return. I would love to name each and every one of you here, but there were so many of you that I am afraid I would forget someone!
Instead, let me just share some of the things you did to bring Sunny home:
- Offered support to Sunny’s family and coordinated the handing out of flyers (including updating the flyer map on numerous occasions so we knew where to go next).
- Updated the missing dog flyers so the latest information could be handed out in neighborhoods and posted in store windows.
- Placed, checked and moved traps in the frigid cold and deep snow – more times than we even know. (Trust me when I say this is hard work.)
- Managed the incoming calls with sightings of Sunny and handled inquiries from the general public (both on Facebook and over the phone).
- Made calls to local shelters, police departments and city managers in cities where Sunny was sighted.
- Monitored all the places that help lost dogs – AHS website, Lost Dogs – MN, Craigslist, in case Sunny was brought in as a stray.
- Called radio stations to ask them to ask the public to keep an eye out for Sunny.
- Handed out flyers over and over and over again – and then did it once again (many times in frigid cold).
- Contacted local newspapers and online news media outlets to alert them to Sunny’s story and the search for him.
- Placed ads in newspapers and posted info on Craigslist.
- Made signs to be placed in areas he was sighted.
- Kept all of the volunteers motivated week after week after week (you know who you are!).
- Shared Sunny’s picture and story on Facebook and asked friends to share.
- Prayed, sent good thoughts and hoped that Sunny would be reunited with his family.
- Called and reported each and every sighting, no matter when that sighting occurred.
A very special thanks to Patti and her husband for reporting that one final set of sightings that brought Sunny home and to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN who handled so much more than we know with absolute grace and charm.
So, without further ado, here is Sunny’s story as it was shared on the Lost Shelties MN Facebook page in Sunday. It still brings tears to my eyes.
Hi Everyone…This is long…I apologize…but it’s been a long journey for Sunny, his family and the rest of us. This is a story worth telling. Thank you all for EVERYTHING you have done to help this precious boy. A lot of hard work by all…but so very rewarding. Grab some coffee and enjoy. And please share this also, as I’m sure through the 96 days that Sunny was gone, there were a lot of people who have seen your likes & shares. Thank you…from the bottom of my heart.
(First, how Sunny was finally caught.) On March 20th, Sunny’s owner called to tell us he got a call from a lady who had seen Sunny. Her name is Patti and she lives in Vadnais Heights. Patti feeds stray cats and she and her husband have a live feed video camera near the bowls. They started to see a Sheltie come around about 11pm, he had been eating at the bowls at least eight times in the last week and a half. Patti checked Craigslist and was sure that dog was Sunny. We were cautiously optimistic. Almost 23 miles (via Interstate 694) from where Sunny went missing on Christmas Eve. If this was Sunny…he was heading for Ohio!
Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) volunteers brought a live trap over that night. Patti had a huge bowl of cut up hot dogs, another big bowl of chicken, along with cat kibble and a heated bowl for milk. We set up the trap with the chicken and hot dogs inside. We left the kibble and milk outside – usually we don’t want to leave food outside the trap but a big tomcat was watching the whole time and we figured we would probably catch him multiple times if we didn’t leave something out for him.
The first night, Patti’s husband stayed up til 2 a.m. watching the video…no dog! We set up a motion-activated camera. We thought if we at least saw him come around again, then we would put the word out for flyers in the area. But the dog stopped coming by (or at least he did not appear on the love camera or when anyone was watching the live feed). More days passed and no dog. We started thinking it must have been a neighbor dog, who was sometimes let out to stroll late at night. It started to seem like nothing was going to happen here.
March 28th – Patti called to say they caught a raccoon in the trap! Not good, but there’s always the thought that you have to catch something else before you catch the dog.
6:30 a.m. on March 29th – Patti calls to say they have the dog in the trap! What dog…must be a neighbor dog…some other dog that needs our help? Could it possibly be Sunny? Patti and her husband knew not to open the trap but they offered to bring it inside their garage until our volunteer Pat (another MNSR volunteer) could get there.
Pat and her granddaughter arrived, along with Sunny’s owners’ in-laws. The markings looked right, the size looked right, but there was that tiny bit of doubt that it was another Sheltie that looked a lot like Sunny. The dog sort of wagged his tail at the father-in-law. He was matted and full of burrs, but otherwise didn’t look too bad. They sent pictures to Sunny’s owner in Ohio, and he was on the road by mid-morning.
Sunny went to Karen’s for the day. Pat’s granddaughter spent some time picking burrs out of his coat and he was amazingly relaxed. He got a good nap for the rest of the morning.
At noon on Friday, March 29th, Sunny went to MNSR’s vet, he was checked out and overall opinion was that he is in pretty good shape (blood work results will take a day or two), not thin but obviously he was tired.
Sunny had to meet some more MNSR volunteers later in the afternoon, and he was quite calm for that too. He didn’t approach us, but he didn’t hide or cower. Maybe still somewhat in shock and maybe relief that he didn’t have to run anymore.
Friday evening about 7:00 p.m., Sunny’s owner, Dick, arrives at Karen’s. Sunny looked at him, walked over and sniffed him, and then his tail started to wag a little. He never left Dick after that. Dick sat on the step and talked and Sunny looked at him and listened. Dick would say familiar words and his ears would perk up. He relaxed and laid down at his feet for a while. We could tell that all was well in Sunny’s world again.
Sunny left Karen’s equipped with a Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR collar), a harness and was double leashed! After all that, Dick carried him out to the car anyway. Sunny and Dick are driving back to Ohio Saturday morning and should be back home by evening. (Update: Sunny is now home and his overall blood work was good.)
Thank you to everyone who helped in this 96 day search to get Sunny back home. The flyers, the Craigslist ads, the Maple Grove Patch and the City of Brooklyn Park, the sharing on Facebook, twitter and other social media. Thank you to Patti and her husband for feeding such good food to stray cats and a lost Sheltie from Ohio.
Sunny – you captured our hearts. Safe travels home, Sunny and Dick!
* * * * * *
Chronology of the search for Sunny
December 24 – Sunny, a Sheltie visiting with his family from Ohio, goes missing.
December 26th – Volunteers hit the streets of Maple Grove flyering the neighborhoods.
January 5th – Sunny sighting south of 85th, by Fleet Farm. Other Sunny sightings. (Major snowstorm January 4th.)
January 13th – Sunny sighting on the west side of the Coon Rapids Dam. Volunteers look on both sides of the dam, the area is heavily flyered.
January 15th – Three Rivers Park (Coon Rapids) police report seeing Sunny near West River Road and chase him into the park. MNSR live traps are set, something is eating the food out of the traps, but nothing is ever caught.
Mid- January – We get a couple reports of a Sheltie near highway 610 and also in Coon Rapids. (Temps the week of January 21st ranged from -30 to -20 degrees with -30 to -40 degree windchill.)
January 26th – A Sheltie is reported in Ham Lake near Constance and Urbank. Volunteers place signs in the area. The traps at the dam are still being checked.
Early February – We start to get multiple sightings in Blaine. Volunteers flyer the Blaine neighborhoods. People see us posting signs and tell us they got the flyer and are watching.
February 13th – Sighting back in Brooklyn Park at 104th and Douglas Drive. Volunteers are back distributing flyers in that neighborhood.
February 14th – 16th – Multiple reports of a Sheltie near Bunker Hills Golf Course. Volunteers flyer a large area in Blaine and Coon Rapids.
February 18th – A woman in Blaine catches the Sheltie in a garage. He is extremely underweight, tired and scared. He’s not Sunny, but he definitely needed us.
February 24th – A man calls to say he saw a flyer but that he saw the dog laying on the side of northbound highway 169. It was at least 2 weeks after he had the sighting. Karen from MNSR drives and walks the area, looking for the dog. Mary goes out March 2 to take one more look before the next big snowstorm. No sign of a dog.
March 11 – Another report of a sighting at 93rd and Noble in Brooklyn Park. Volunteers flyer the area.
March 19th – A sighting in Andover. A live trap is set in the backyard. (Major snowstorm March 18th.)
March 20th – A sighting in Vadnais Heights. A live trap is set next to the house.
March 27th – A report about a dead animal in Blaine. Started thinking the Vadnais Heights dog wasn’t Sunny.
March 28th – A racoon is caught in the Vadnais Heights trap.
March 29th – A dog is in the Vadnais Heights trap. A happy ending to a 96 day search for a lost Sheltie from Ohio.
Two more updates: Rumor has it that Sunny’s story may be featured on the John Williams radio show on WCCO on Monday between 3-6 p.m. and he is once again featured on the Maple Grove Patch (the first time was when he was still missing).
All one has to do is look at the Lost Dogs-MN Facebook page to know that there are a LOT of missing dogs out there. A LOT. In fact, almost too many to count. Then you head on over to the Lost Dogs of Wisconsin page and you begin to realize, this isn’t just an issue in Minnesota, it’s an issue everywhere. It makes one wonder… How many missing and lost dogs are there out there?
Between January and May of 2012:
Lost Dogs Illinois – 825 dogs reunited with their owners (778 safe, 47 deceased)
Lost Dogs-MN – 258 dogs reunited with their owners (240 safe, 18 deceased)
Lost Dogs of Wisconsin – 497 dogs reunited with their owners (450 safe, 47 deceased)
Combined total of Lost Dogs- MN, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Lost Dogs Illinois for this year so far is 1588 reunions (1476 safe, 112 deceased).
(If we averaged that number just among the three states in which those pages reside (Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin), that would be approximately 529 reunited dogs per state. Extrapolate that number across all 50 states and that’s 26,450 dogs that could be lost and reunited nationwide – and that’s just January through May!)
Given these numbers, it makes me wonder why we continue to use the word “stray” anymore. If there is anything I have learned over the past seven months, it’s that many of the dogs we have called a “stray” is someone’s lost pet, someone’s stolen dog, someone’s missing companion.
We’ve got to start changing our mindsets and our vocabulary when it comes to the dogs we see running around our neighborhoods and cities. Yes, I recognize that some dogs do get dumped and left behind by their owners, certainly this is the case in many of our larger cities, like St Louis and Los Angeles, and even in our smaller, rural towns. But it’s not always the case. There are just too many missing pets out there to not wonder how many
“stray” dogs are actually just lost dogs.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of this when I saw this posting by a shelter in rural Minnesota on the Lost Dogs-MN page. In the past, this dog would have been labeled a stray and no one would have thought anything more about it. But thanks to organizations like this shelter and Lost Dogs-MN, this dog was reunited with his owners.
Let’s stop thinking stray and start thinking LOST, shall we?
Original posting: One more found dog today. Randy is a found boy about 1 year old. He was found in the northern part of Mora. The finders had him for awhile and tried to find his home with no luck so he came to the shelter about a week ago. We have noticed he is a happy dog that seems well cared for. So we are hoping a weekend visitor had lost him and will look here at the shelter. If you know anything about Randy please call the shelter. Please share to see if we can get this boy home.
Here’s the update: Today the family came to see if it was him. Randy was getting happy to be at the shelter with new friends but he barked like crazy so happy to see his people. Did all his tricks and we were sure he was one of the family. He is on his way home and happy now. He had a thankful look on his face as he said good bye.
Recently, a rescue group I know, one that was involved in the search for Lady(not the one I volunteer for), came under attack via social media. I won’t go into all of the details of the reason behind the attack, because that is not the point of this post nor am I looking to judge the rescue or the other person involved. But, I do feel the need to address the people who have injected themselves into this controversy.
Because I am the owner of a former missing dog, and the recipient of this rescue’s kindness, it saddened me to see a flurry of harsh words thrown back and forth by people who supported the rescue and those who did not. But, what made me most angry were the harsh words and condemnation and judgement hurled at a woman whose dog had gotten lost.
I could say that this was a one time event. A situation where strong feelings on both sides just got out of hand and eventually cooler heads would prevail, but I have seen these types of words hurled at other owners on missing dog websites elsewhere, so I know that saying this was a one-time event would not be the truth.
I often see comments like “Why didn’t you do this?” and “Why didn’t you do that?” Or ones like “You must not have cared for your dog since you didn’t do this or that.” Or “So, how DID your dog get lost? Hmmm???” (That one hurled at me when Lady went missing.) My favorite one from this latest incident was the one that inferred the owner deserved to lose her dog because it had gotten loose while out on a tie out.
Wow. I never knew there were so many lost dog experts living among us.
I wonder how many people really knew, before they followed the Little Lady Lost saga, what to do if their dog went missing. I know I didn’t.
Honestly, looking back now, I can’t even remember if I called Lady’s rescue first or her former foster mom. I was in such a complete state of panic. I was shaking. I was frantic and scared and out of my head with fear for Lady’s life. She had gotten away in the busiest and most dangerous part of town. The last thing I could do was think rationally about what to do next. All I seemed capable of doing at the time was roaming the area over and over again, searching for her, calling out her name.
If not for amazing and wonderful people at Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, a group very experienced with finding lost dogs, I would not have known what to do.
I would not have thought to create flyers with Lady’s pictures on them. Or to include a warning to not approach her but to call me instead.
I would never have known about FindToto.com or the huge advantage it afforded me in getting the word out to so many people in my town so quickly.
I would not have even known about traps or how to set them or how to bait them or to put an article of clothing in it so she would be drawn to my smell.
I never would have known the importance of going door-to-door or speaking to people in person so they would want to help me find my missing girl.
If I had not been Lady’s foster first, I would not have even thought to call the rescue first.
I certainly never would have known the importance of calling all the shelters and the police and local businesses to ask them to keep an eye out for Lady.
I never would have thought, or even had the time, to create signs or to post them in strategic intersections so people could see them.
I wouldn’t have known any of these things if not for Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. Not a one. Would you?
It’s so easy to assume that everyone knows what to do because we do. It’s so easy to assume that someone is stupid or doesn’t care for their missing pet because they didn’t do all the right things. It so easy to judge isn’t it?
Well I say I was lucky. I had people around me who knew all that I did not. They did things for me that I could not. I was stupid and ignorant and clueless. I was also scared and worried and not thinking straight.
So I would just like to ask all you lost dog “experts”, not the ones who are experienced in finding lost dogs, but the ones who sit in judgement of those with missing pets… LAY OFF. Why don’t you focus on helping instead of criticizing? Why don’t you educate instead of standing by and judging what others did or did not do? Why don’t you have compassion and kindness and heart?
Yes. I am lucky that Lady came home, and I thank my lucky stars she did, but not everyone is so lucky to have an organization, or the people I had behind me, to help. Let’s remember that before we pass judgement, shall we?
In the meantime, I share a few things that was shared by Lost Dogs-MN. Maybe you could pass them on and help others too.