Home > Animal Rescue, Cupcake, Lady, Little Lady Lost, Lost Dogs, Missing Pets, Pet Safety > Why your lost dog may not run back to you

Why your lost dog may not run back to you

November 18, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Cupcake’s first day home after being lost for 12 days

I was reminded once again this past weekend how much we dog owners don’t know about missing pets. That’s not a judgement in any way,  just an observation. So few of us really know or understand what happens to a pet when they become lost.

This past weekend someone asked me why any lost dog would not just go to their owner once they saw them. It’s a good question. I think most of us just assume that our own dogs would come running to us as soon as they saw us. After all, we’ve cared for them, fed them, cuddled with them and loved them. But, sadly that is not the case for every lost dog – even your lost dog.

I first read this story (Dog Lost for Four Months Recognizes Family by Whistle)  on Life With Dogs back in October. It’s a good example of how a lost dog can become confused and disoriented when they are lost for several days or months. Luna, the dog in the story, was missing for four months. When her family finally found her again, she didn’t recognize them, and even walked away from them when they arrived to be reunited with her. It took two days, six visits and a distinctive whistle by the owner, for her to realize it was them. What had been a puzzling circumstance finally resulted in a happy reunion for all.

She was “crying and yipping the whole way,” said Julia. Luna jumped into Bruno’s arms and began licking his face.

As many of us already know, not all dogs are created equal (if they were our lives would be pretty boring!). Some dogs are happy-go-lucky, love people and other dogs, while others are much more wary and unsure. Puppy mill dogs are especially wary of strangers. They’re also more skittish. They are less likely to stick around and see if the human approaching them is “their” human or someone intending to harm them. As a result, they are much harder to catch and usually have to be trapped.

But a dog does not have to be a puppy mill dog to react this way. Many lost dogs tend to go into “survival mode”. They are frightened, unsure, hungry, tired (exhausted) and on constant alert. In many cases, they are fending for their lives. The longer they live in this state the less likely they are to recognize their owner on sight – and in fact, they are less likely to stick around and wait to see if the person approaching them is their owner.

A year ago this week, my foster dog, Cupcake, was missing. As a lost dog and owner, Cupcake and I had a lot going against us finding one another again – she was a puppy mill dog, had only been with me a little over a month, and was frightened of strangers. She was dodging traffic, coyotes and people in the twelve days she was missing. Talk about being in survival mode – she was definitely in it.

When we finally were able to see each other again it was at a warehouse loading dock. Even as people blocked all her avenues of escape, she continued to run back and forth, trying to find a way out. I was standing right there and she didn’t even recognize me. I called her name and she kept running. I asked if she wanted to go home to see Daisy and Jasper (my other two dogs) and she stopped for a second, then kept running – she was in survival mode, searching for a way out.

It wasn’t until I sat down with my body turned sideways from her, with my head bowed down and avoided eye contact with her, that she came close enough to smell me. I still remember the moment she started to realize it was me. She lifted her nose to the air and sniffed me. Then she moved closer and sniffed again. When she finally got close enough to really sniff me, and to hear my voice, she sighed. It was at that very moment she realized it was me. She leaned into me. She finally knew she was safe.

11/30/2011 – The day Cupcake was found. That’s me in back carrying her.

All lost dogs act differently. As owners, we need to know that before our pet goes missing.

We need to know that chasing a lost dog is one of the worst things we can do. It only reaffirms to the dog that people should be avoided.

So what should you do when you encounter a lost dog or your own lost dog?

  • Sit down.
  • Turn your body so your back or side is to the dog.
  • Keep your eyes averted and bow your head so as to look non-threatening.
  • Toss tasty treats (hot dogs, chicken, smelly cheese, etc.) behind you or to the side of you.
  • Don’t talk.
  • Wait patiently for the dog to approach you. Don’t make any sudden movements, but continue to toss treats.
  • Don’t grab the dog when they get close, but wait patiently and build trust.
  • Speak softly, but if they back away, stop talking and just continue to toss treats until they trust you enough to come closer.

As a dog owner, it pays to know what to do if your dog becomes lost. Below are some sites with some great tips on what to do. I really encourage you to check them out.

Lost Dog Tips

Lost Dogs-MN – Tips and Ideas

How to find a lost Sheltie – Minnesota Sheltie Rescue

How to Find Your Lost Dog (PetFinder)

Lost Dog Quick Action Plan from Granite State Dog Recovery

Cupcake – Happy to be back home.

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  1. November 18, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    All I can say is, thank goodness Georgia was only missing for 10 minutes. It felt like a lifetime. I should pass this on to Cushion to read but I suspect he already feels bad enough!

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 6:44 AM

      I am sure it did feel like a lifetime. It is such a fearful moment when you realize your dog is gone and you have no idea where she is – I am sure The Cushion stills feels badly about it. I am so glad Miss Little Pea is safe at home with you. 🙂

  2. November 18, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    It brings tears to my eyes, reading about your reunion with Cupcake last year… when she finally realized it was YOU and she sighed and leaned into you.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 6:41 AM

      Kristin – It still makes me tear up when I think about that moment. I don’t think I can ever describe the feelings I felt when she finally leaned into me. It was such a statement of trust and such a feeling of responsibility. It has been my job to keep her safe from that moment on.

  3. November 18, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    Thank you for this. I posted it to the folks still searching for Murphy – who has been lost, but regularly sighted for over a month in the Sierras.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 6:32 AM

      I hope it helps them Ogee. I was going to offer some ideas on setting up a feeding station and eventually a trap, but I worry that my suggestions might draw predators in too. The Sierra Nevadas. How terrifying that must be. I hope they don’t give up hope. Dogs are amazingly good at surviving on their own. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. O will keep Murphy in my thoughts and prayers. Is he posted on your site? I’d love to read their story.

      • November 19, 2012 at 8:48 AM

        Mel, search on Bring Murphy Home within Gardens for Goldens and the post will pop up. It includes a link to Murphy’s Facebook page where all of her activity has been moved so folks can coordinate better. Thank you again for the info. Much appreciated!

      • Mel
        November 19, 2012 at 9:49 AM

        Thank you so much for sharing this. I sent a friend submission. Now that I know Murphy has been sighted in town, I would encourage them to set up feeding stations and some night cams to see which one she goes to and then set the trap. The trap is no good unless you have an established pattern. But of course, I may be saying things you already have done. The thing that seems to work best is KFC chicken. Also, once you have a pattern and an established feeding site, put items that smell like her and her family in the trap and near the trap. It seems to draw them in.

      • Mel
        November 19, 2012 at 8:22 PM

        Thanks Ogee. I was so sad to read Murphy’s story. Just heartbreaking! I friended Murphy’s page and will be praying she is home soon. Poor baby must be so scared.

      • November 19, 2012 at 11:21 PM

        Prayers are good. Many needed. Thank you.

    • June 27, 2015 at 1:52 PM

      Any good news on Murphy? (I hope) I know this was posted in 2012, but I was hoping the story had a happy ending!

      • Mel
        June 29, 2015 at 7:05 AM

        Murphy? You mean Cupcake?

      • Bettie
        June 29, 2015 at 10:03 AM

        Thanks for replying. I saw cupcake made it back home. In the comments I saw where Murphy ran off and I was wondering if Murphy was ever found.. I sure hope so.

      • June 30, 2015 at 11:04 PM

        Oh, you missed it! Murphy was found not far from the campground where she was lost, some 20 months later! Here’s my post, but you can do an internet search on “Murphy Braun found” and you’ll find all of the coverage. Amazing story! http://gardensforgoldens.com/2014/06/17/hope-never-stops/

      • Bettie
        July 1, 2015 at 12:41 AM

        Oh I am so glad to hear this! Thank You so much for letting me know. A little teary eyed on the 20 months. Always love happy endings. I foster dogs and puppies that have no family . Some are run-a-ways where owners can’t be found. I have adopted three and they are my life. I have a peaceful feeling knowing Murphy was found. THANK YOU!

      • July 1, 2015 at 9:06 AM

        You’re very welcome…such an amazing story. Thanks for the good work you do fostering…there is such a vital need. ❤

    • Mel
      July 1, 2015 at 7:11 AM

      Ogee – Thank you for sharing your update! I remember him being found and balling my head off, but nice to read it on your blog. Thank you!

      • July 1, 2015 at 9:07 AM

        An amazing story. You’re very welcome!

  4. To Shea
    November 18, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    I Rremember when you, lost cupcake, I was so concerned and worried. There was nothing I could do, I was in NY. My heart felt for yours….I was so happy when you finally found Cupcake…:-). She is a wonderful dog…:-)

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 6:28 AM

      Wow Alex. I keep forgetting how far Cupcake’s story went.
      I think at the time, my blog was an outlet for all my fears and worries about Cupcake. I was so afraid for her. I think what you did do was send good thoughts, and despite what many people may say, I felt all the prayers and good thoughts. It helped me get through those days. I am so happy I found Cupcake too.

  5. November 19, 2012 at 6:08 AM

    Excellent post!

  6. November 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    Hi Mel,

    Great Sheltie related story. Can I cross-post this to Sheltie Nation? Proper credit is always given.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 8:23 PM

      Absolutely Kelly! Please do! Shelties are so often lost. If it helps then it will be one less Sheltie lost and not found. Thank you for doing so.

  7. November 19, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Bodhi got out of yard last weekend. He is such a sweetheart that he was just following people around on the sidewalks. He just about gave us a heart attack, but luckily someone scooped him up and called us.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 8:21 PM

      OMG! Isn’t it the most horrifying feeling? I am so glad someone made the effort to get him and bring him back to you. I am so glad that you aren’t reading this from the other side of things. Stay Bodhi! Stay!

      • November 20, 2012 at 10:09 AM

        It was super scary! I love him too much!

  8. November 19, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since she became lost! I am still so grateful you were able to find her again and bring her back home where she belongs. Hopefully your experiences will help many more who go through this type of tragedy. It really can happen to anyone with any dog. Thank you for being such a supportive voice.

  9. Will and Eko
    November 19, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Very interesting read about a topic that I personally hadn’t thought very much about. Thanks for sharing that important info – just hope I never need to use it!

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 8:20 PM

      I hope you never do either Will. It’s a scary thing to lose your dog, but knowing what to do makes all the difference. Those first few hours can help you find your dog. I’m glad I was able to share my story and Luna’s.

  10. November 19, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    These are really excellent tips, Mel. It’s hard to believe that it has been a year already. Thank you for this post.

  11. November 19, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Thanks for this post. I never thought about Chester or Gretel not running to greet me if they were lost. I would like to think Chester still would – he is so friendly he will run up to any stranger – but I bet Gretel wouldn’t even though she is super attached to me. She is a little scaardey dog as it is.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      I never thought about it until Cuppers was lost. I have learned so much since then. I read everything I can find on the topic and MN Sheltie Rescue taught me a lot too. They are very experienced at finding lost Shelties.

  12. November 19, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    That must have been so hard to keep from running up to Cupcake when you finally found her.

    The other thing I think many people forget is that sight is not as important to dogs as it is to us. I know smell is definitely the way Honey first experiences anything. I could certainly see her wanting to sniff me first in a stressful situation.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 8:16 PM

      It was really hard Pamela, but knowing how scared she was I wasn’t going to risk losing her again when we were so close. I was terrified she would get past someone. There were times when she would stop and stare at the opening in the fence and at the people standing there to block it and I could see her brain mulling over the chances she could get by them. I was so afraid she would find a way.

      You are so right about the scent thing. It definitely plays a very important role. One dog that was lost was found after her mom (who was visiting from Colorado) walked from here she was sighted back to the house where she was staying. The dog followed her scent. It is the one thing I always keep in mind now.

  13. November 19, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Great advice! I have known many dogs who have gone into “survival,” “feral” mode and do not recognize their owners right away. I have even seen this mode set in just an hour after being lost which is pretty scary! Another tip is to bring along your other dogs, sometimes the lost dog will recognize their housemates’ scents and sounds and be reoriented by their “pack” before they recognize you.

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 8:09 PM

      It sounds like you have had experience with this Lauren. You are so right about some going into survival mode quickly. Cupcake certainly did. I agree. Sometimes bringing your other dog(s) along can help. As Pamela said below, many dogs operate on scent vs. sight, so being able to smell the other dogs helps.

  14. November 19, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Great article that I will share across my dog-loving network! My puppy mill rescue, Maise, has been with me 5 years and I am very familiar with the behavior you described and with the need to not make eye contact, not talk, and stay low. I was able to teach her “wait,” which has been very useful. However, it’s not and will never be foolproof. She still has those days where it seems something external or internal spooked her and she acts more skittish, but I wouldn’t give her up for anything!

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 8:12 PM

      Thanks Beth. Nice to meet another dog mom to a puppy mill rescue. I have worked with Cupcake on “come”, but I also know it’s not foolproof. I never let her off leash unless we are inside our dog park or in our fenced yard at home. I won’t risk losing her again. I used to let my other dogs off leash, but now I am so cautious. It sounds like Maise has a wise mom. 🙂

  15. November 19, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    A lot of Greyhounds have had the same issue when they’ve gotten loose, too. I’ve heard a lot of pretty amazing stories about how they came to be home, including a guy who went along the route the dog was last seen on and peeing on telephone poles to lead her home. The crazy thing is that it worked!

    • Mel
      November 19, 2012 at 10:29 PM

      How funny you should mention that Carrie. I actually was told to pee in a cup and sprinkle it around the trap we had set out. There must be something to it if it worked for that guy. I can’t believe I just shared that. OMG.
      I did not know Greyhounds had that same issue when lost. So scary.

  16. November 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    That marking technique makes a lot of sense! It’s because of the smell. My puppy mill rescue does take underwear or a sock when lying on the floor. I think that is her way of confirming that she is safe with me and that she considers me hers. If I ever lose her (I sure hope not), I will remember that.

    • Mel
      November 27, 2012 at 9:02 PM

      So glad I wrote that piece then. Yes. It can help a lot.

  17. November 25, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    The cognitive effects of critical stress include (but are not limited to); confusion, heightened or lowered awareness, poor concentration, memory problems, difficulty identifying familiar objects or people.

    Lost dogs are stressed.

    • Mel
      November 25, 2012 at 9:36 PM

      Thanks for explaining what happens from a physiology perspective Debbie. It makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Stress seems to do that to humans too.

  18. November 26, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Such practical and VALUABLE advice. Thank you! Shared on my FB page.

    • Mel
      November 27, 2012 at 8:52 PM

      Thank you for sharing Eileen. I hope it helps someone someday. Denise’s story about her own lost dog and how sitting down saved her is all the proof I need that sharing this information can make a difference.

  19. November 26, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    When I moved east in June, 2011, I took one dog and my ex husband kept our German shepherd. In Jan. 2012 he was in failing health and asked me to take the GSD, which I happily did, and flew him east. He did not recognize me at all when I saw him at the airport. We had only been apart for 7 months. It was on the ride home when he finally ventured to the front of the SUV and nuzzled me.

    • Mel
      November 26, 2012 at 11:09 PM

      Another good example of how dogs forget. It takes time and patience. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s another good example for all of us.

  20. Denise True
    November 26, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    The same thing happened with our little puppy mill yorkie that we adopted. After three long days and sad nights, I found her walking down the middle of a country road! I threw the car in gear, got out and began calling her name. She turned around and looked at me, but, was not going to come closer. She was quite far away and I was so afraid that a car would come along and hit her. Finally, I sat down at the edge of the road and kept asking her if she wanted a treat. She recognized that word, and kept inching forward. I sat still and she finally came to me. I didn’t touch her until she smelled me and began whining and climbing on me. A glorious day! She was skin and bones and quite happy to be back home.
    I do believe that had I reached out to grab her, she would have run. Poor, poor mistreated dogs! She is so incredibly different than the dogs I have raised from puppies, but, I love her just the same.

    • Mel
      November 26, 2012 at 11:07 PM

      Wow Denise. What a powerful story. I am so glad you have her back. You did everything right. I am so glad you did what you did. I know that if I had grabbed for Cupcake she would have run too. I was lucky to have people blocking her exits, so she wouldn’t have gotten far, but you did not. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  21. totalrecall
    December 10, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    (New Delhi) I’ve been looking for my missing one-year old dog for a month (ran away on Nov 13th, 2012, terrified by festival firecrackers). I thought she’d see me and come running. Glad I came by your blog. My dog’s a stray dog (black and tan) and has many many look-alikes on every other block. I’ll have to be more careful with look-alikes, expecting them not to recognize me. I have expected her to hear my car horn from a distance, too, although, i guess by now she may have forgotten the sound.

    http://my-lost-dog.blogspot.in/

    • Mel
      December 11, 2012 at 6:22 AM

      I am so very sorry Rahul. I know how hard it is to not find your lost dog. I would expect after a year that your dog has also gone into survival mode and may not recognize you right away. I hope and pray you find her soon.

  22. Nancy Kaler
    April 2, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    This is a great article! I am a volunteer at the Franklin County Dog Shelter in Columbus, Ohio and I co – Team Leader for the Lost and Found Volunteers–we escort folks thru the wards where we are holding strays (these wards are not open to the public.)

    I would like permission to make copies of the article and have them available to people who are looking for their missing dog(s). If is it ok with you, how do I properly credit you on the article?

    Thank you again for a great article.

    • Mel
      April 2, 2013 at 7:12 AM

      Thanks Nancy. Feel free to print. You may also want to print out a few others as well. I know a rescue who gives the second one to all their adopters.

      Why your lost dog may not run back to you
      Do you know what to do if your pet goes missing?

      • Nancy Kaler
        April 2, 2013 at 8:09 AM

        Thank you so much. If people don’t find their missing dog at the shelter, my goal is for them to walk away with an “action” plan and with lots of good information.

        I just found your blog this morning and have noticed that you have mentioned coyotoes a couple times. I’m not sure what part of the country you are from but we do have people come into FCDS who are worried that coyotes have gotten their dogs. Dr. Stan Gerht, The Ohio State University, has researched coyotes in urban areas (mostly Chicago and Columbus) for more than a decade. According to Dr. Gerht, It is very rare for a coyote to go after a dog and the dog would have to be “teacup” size. A couple of points: coyotes don’t hunt in packs, their preferred diet is rodents and Canada goose eggs; cats (in particular feral cats) are more likely to be attacked by coyotes. This is the information I share with owners, if they ask. There is alot of information about Dr. Gerht’s research on the web if you want to Google it.

        Thanks again.

      • February 6, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        Nancy, My son’s dogs were attached by a coyote in their back yard – these are not small dogs both weigh over 80 lbs. We are in Northern Colorado and it is common for a coyote who is hungry especially in winter to lure a dog out of their yard by playing with them back to the pack where they are attached

  23. April 8, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    I find missing and stolen pets using my Psychic abilities and I know how heartbreaking it can be for owners to go through this non more so than recently finding a little Shitzu cross maltese called Zac in the middle of the Bush here in Australia. Zac and his owner Anne were visiting a friend outside Perth near Neerabup one Sunday afternoon when he escaped after being frightened and had ran off without any apparent trace to his whereabouts. Anne the distressed owner contacted me after being referred to me by Petsearch asking me to please help her find her dog who by then had been lost for over a month. I said I would gladly help her and although I was unfamiliar with the area after doing a reading on Zac, I advised her to look for a road near a motorway describing what I could see, Anne found the road and I then continued to direct her on the phone from Sydney (some 4,000 kilometres away) to walk through a bushland area near there identifying landmarks along the way which she confirmed to me were correct and she dutifully followed. She then after some considerable time walking through the dense bush, following my directions she found the little dug out that Zac was sleeping in which I had already described to her and his paw prints were there in the sand. First of all Anne was amazed together with her friends who were with her and the national park rangers, that they had actually found evidence of him being there, and secondly that they would actually catch him!
    They then set about placing a cage with food in it, leaving it there overnight. The next day Anne’s friends checked the cage, and there he was! Caught in the cage, he was of course rather unkempt, and dishevelled, and probably frightened too by his ordeal of being lost in the bush, but he was safe, and soon to be reunited with his owner Anne. The owner Anne is writing a book on the story of Zac as she found it unbelievable that I found him and she thought it would be a great children’s story and one that would send the all important message of hope to the many people who lose their pets to not give up their search of their pets even when all hope is gone.
    I have since started a Pet Detective page on Facebook helping to find other animals and I have already had more successes in finding missing pets including a Cat in Kalgoorlie, a Cat in Sydney, a couple of more dog’s – one in Beverley Hills, and one in Castle Hill, and even a horse in the UK that was stolen! If I can help anyone who has lost a pet then please feel free to contact me via my Email on my Web page at http://www.jacquiclairvoyant.com

  24. Yirmiyan
    April 26, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    So very happy to read your article. Today I went to a shelter after spotting a dog on their website which looked exactly like my lost dog. He’s been gone for 8 years now. When I approached him he did not seem to recognize me one bit, just shirked away to a corner. Also, he is a black and white patched dog and a black spot right on the back of his head was missing. The face was ditto to the point and so were his eyes and the way his gaze is. I mean, I look at him and I just know it is him but the patches don’t match. Most do but not all. I read somewhere that patches may shift a bit with age. Is that possible? or that if there has been a wound, a different color of hair may crop up. If the dog I saw is really my lost dog, he should be 16 years now. The one I saw was definitely a very very old dog. I’m desperately looking for any explanations or help.

    • Mel
      June 17, 2013 at 10:43 PM

      I wish I had answers for you Yirmiyan. If you are certain it is your dog, sit down next to his cage and see if he starts to show signs he recognizes you. I am so sorry. 8 years is such a long time to have missed your lost dog. I would still be looking too.

  25. Carolyn Melvin
    June 13, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Shelties are particularly difficult to reclaim when lost since most of them only trust their own people, not humans in general, and often won’t accept food from strangers.
    Even if the old dog in the shelter isn’t your missing dog he really needs a home and someone to love him. Coat length can change the outline of color patches, as of course can scarring, which you mentioned.

  26. Ellen MacMillan
    June 17, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Last October I lost a dog for 5 days in a remote area of Maine known as the 100 Mile Wilderness (and that’s just the beginning of it, it’s actually HUNDREDS of miles of wilderness). We were about 12 miles in off the main road when she took off chasing something. It’s an area of coyotes, bears and moose and mountains, swamps and rivers. I was certain I would never see her again. It had been raining heavily with blowing winds and temps in the 20s at night. The fourth day she was spotted out on the road and I was called immediately but she was gone by the time I got to where she was sighted. Tha evening of the fifth day she was spotted sitting by the side of the road about a mile from where she had been seen the day before. The fellow who saw her tried to get her to come to him but she took off back into the woods and he, being a wise dog owner (he has five of his own) knew not to give chase but called and waited until I got there before he left. I walked into the woods and couldn”t see her anywhere and just sat down on a log and started talking to her softly. After several minutes I spotted her peering at me through some raspberry brambles and she just listened and sniffed, took a few steps, listened and sniffed, took a few more minutes. This when on for several minutes until she finally got close enough to really smell me and then she came right in. This was not a puppy mill dog, Keva is a very bold, woods wise dog that was born in my home. It would have been nice to have the exuberant Lassie-like ending, and she was thrilled when she finally knew it was me, but goes to show that any dog, no matter how brave, can go into that “survival mode.” I estimate she walked about 20 miles navigating her way through the swamps and at least partway up a mountain of about 1895 feet.

    • Mel
      June 17, 2013 at 9:47 PM

      Wow Ellen. I am so amazed and happy for you. That is not only quite a story, it’s a miracle. Thank goodness she is home and safe! Thank you for sharing your story.

  27. June 25, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Delighted to see this article. I volunteer at a shelter and have started writing some notations on my website. I would like to mention this article with the address. Trust that is OK.

    • Mel
      June 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Oh my gosh Helen, please do! If it helps one person then I am grateful it could be shared!

      • June 25, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        Thanks. I need to get back to writing more on my own site. I focus from the perspective of dogs coming and leaving the shelter. In fact, it is called SORD for Shelter or Rescue Dogs. That’s where I will note your material. I may switch to a blog at some time.
        Appreciate your responding so quickly.
        Helen

      • Mel
        June 25, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        Having volunteered at a shelter for 8 1/2 years I admire what you are doing Helen. I’ll have to go check your site out. So glad you could share.

  28. July 1, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    I got goose bumps from reading your story Mel! I had the exact same experience after our 8-month old dog went missing in a wilderness area. The evening he got lost it started to blizzard and the temp dropped to 12 degrees farenheit. I had had him for only three months and I chalked up his reluctance to that fact. On the third day I did just as you did, quietly lying in the snow and waiting for him to approach. The feeling when he finally leaned into me and relaxed with a sigh was amazing and just as you described. Magic. I am so glad you are sharing your story because it will surely help others get their dogs back.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      Thank you Tammy! I love reading about the sigh you got too. Yes. It is a moment that still brings tears to my eyes. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment as long as I live. I am so glad your pup came home too. You were so wise in how you got him to come home.

  29. August 11, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    Great article! Thanks. Fortunately, I have not lost my dog yet, but she is a great escape artist, and I fear for the day that she may just keep running.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      I really hope she doesn’t. It’s a scary thing to go through.

  30. Maureen McGrath
    August 20, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Very informative. My 13 year old Shepherd/Lab may make it another 2 years or he could go tomorrow. We know we will immediately get another pound dog when he’s gone. No puppy mill dogs here. When we do get our new one things will be different. We live in the country now, own land and really want a puppy. Just scares me that he’ll get out and get lost. Now the dog I have now was raised in the city, but, spent a lot of time in the woods, the water, and also walking a lot on the leash. I became ill and he doesn’t leave my side. Just soo afraid the next pup will get lost up here in the sticks. Thank you. ALWAYS praise and never scold when the dog returns. Thsnk you.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      So agree on the never scold and always praise advice. So glad your baby is still with you.

  31. August 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    This article is so very true. I had a wee sheltie years ago..his name was Pal, and he lived up to that name too:>) three times in the 13 years we had Pal he went AWOL. He found a loose board in the fence one time.anther time a neighbours kid let him out of the yard..the last time he slipped his collar while being walked by a dog walker..and refused to come back to her. Fortunately, each time Pal was found and was unhurt!! The second time he was missing for nearly 3 weeks..other times only a couple of days. The interesting thing is..I had to SIT down..and sing this little song ‘Pally’ loved..it was a little song I sang to him many times from early puppyhood on..only when I sang this song would my Pal come to me..and when he came he was so happy and so relived to have been found.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      Wow Darlene! Once was enough of a scare for me. I cannot imagine 3 times. I am so glad you knew what to do!

  32. Leosrme
    August 20, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    I used to have a male Leonberger (who is sadly departed now) who had anxiety issues after a firework incident. In the end, I had to stop letting him off leash because if he heard a loud noise (and believe me, even the quietest places have the capacity to produce loud noises at some time!) he would panic and run. I could never understand why he would not run to me for protection. Once or twice he panicked on the beach and just ran for his life. Fortunately, on the last occasion, in the distance, someone who knew us was walking towards us and managed to slow him down enough to grab him. In his younger days, while on a walk, he went missing in woodland for about 20 mins, I kept sending our Labrador in to find him but the lab would come back after about 30 secs and I couldn’t understand why. After 20 minutes of panic, Max appeared again, covered up to his belly in black smelly mud. I realised that he had been just out of sight in the undergrowth, enjoying himself by wallowing in a big boggy pool (to a Leonberger, a swimming breed, mud is classed as water!) and he had been taking his sweet time before coming back! We avoided that spot in the future 🙂

    This article was very interesting and it is a great article to use to explain to clients why dogs react in this way when all they want is for the dog to recognise them and feel safe.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      Thank you for sharing your own experience. Shelties are often like this so we have become pretty experienced with them. I am so glad you got your Leonberger back. What a story.

  33. Laura Yearke
    August 20, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    I had a skittish Shepherd-Collie mix rescue who was quite the Houdini. Chasing her, of course, was useless. Her adventures were typically only a few minutes of escape, staying primarily within a few streets radius. The easiest way to retrieve her was to carefully pull close to her with our minivan and ask her if she wanted to “Go for a ride?” She recognized our vehicle immediately and loved rides, so she’d come running and jump right in. Even if she was only one or two houses away from home, we always retrieved her this way.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Ah! You just described one of the methods that worked with our shelter dogs many a time. Good advice!

  34. Helene Friedman
    August 20, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Fabulous that Cupcake made it back home. She’s a beautiful dog, and I know her humans were heartbroken.

    • Mel
      August 21, 2013 at 7:13 AM

      Thank you. Yes. SHe is a sweet and beautiful girl and I am very, very lucky she is home. Very.

  35. Robbie
    August 20, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    One thing to do when your dog get away from you, that is REALLY hard, is to call it, get its attention, and run in the opposite direction. Many dogs will chase you if you run away, but if you run towards them they think you’re chasing them and playing.

    • August 21, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      This trick has worked with several of my dogs,but, fortunately, none have been lost for more than a few minutes. This has worked with dogs that are enjoying their freedom for a few minutes, but still know exactly who I am. This morning, I saw someone’s dog who has probably escaped and hoped it would stay put long enough to come near mine (leashed)… no such luck. I hope he’s just an escapee who will make his way home!

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:18 PM

      Great advice on running away. Also lying down so the dog starts to wonder what is going on and comes over to check you out has worked. Opening a car door and asking if they want to go for a ride has also worked. All three of these worked when a shelter dog got loose.

  36. August 21, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    I have that one greyhound in a million that comes home. He’s a bit of an explorer and likes the occasional walkabout. Of course, when he takes them, I panic. He’s been on two in the last 4 years. One was for about 10 minutes, the other for over 2 hours. While I was out looking for him, my roommate came home to join the search, and he was standing in the front yard in mint condition wondering what all the ruckus was about. An animal communicator friend of mine says we have a very strong bond. I’m just glad he’s still safe.

    • Mel
      August 21, 2013 at 7:07 AM

      Thank goodness he is the one that stays close and comes back. That is rare. I am so glad you have a strong bond.

  37. Elizabeth
    August 21, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    We lost our Sheltie baby on March 9, 2012 – I think about him every day. He ran from my husband and from the strangers who were trying to chase him down. My initial response was – why in the world did you chase him. Why did you squat down and call him sweetly like when he gets a treat. He would have turned around instead of being frightened. To this day, I have a heard time getting over how the loss could have been prevented on so many levels.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      Elizabeth – your comment more than others stuck with me. I am so very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine how awful it must be to not know if he is okay or where he is now. I am so very, very sorry. I wish I could help you.

  38. August 21, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    Any advice for a person who finds a lost dog-obviously a pet? After days of scouring ads and posting notices, online and in person, the dog sits in the shelter. A beautiful male Siberian Husky found in Costa Mesa CA, running across the 405, and into a nearby neighborhood.

    • Mel
      August 22, 2013 at 6:31 AM

      Fliers and Craigslist are the best ways to help reunite a lost dog and owner. Placing fliers with his picture along 405 and most people look at or post their lost dogs on Craigslist. Many of our shelters here in MN now have a page on their website that posts lost and found dogs. You’d be amazed how many get reunited. People don’t believe it, but fliers really work the best.

  39. August 22, 2013 at 2:55 AM

    Such a good article!

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      Thanks Lisa!

  40. August 22, 2013 at 5:57 AM

    We lost our dog, Brandy, when she ran from a friend walking her in an unfamiliar area after a car backfired.

    She was a breeding dog in a puppy farm and had had a few owners before us, so I was terrified that she wouldn’t come back to me having only been with us four months.

    We got her back after ten days and A LOT of time spent searching, hassling people to share on Facebook, lots of posters printed and put out and about and a lot of other people out looking for her giving us valuable sightings. We also were lucky enough to get help from a tracking dog and his owner.

    When we finally cornered Brandy I was with people and other dogs she was familiar with. I crouched down and threw treats while calling her in a happy and positive voice (or trying too). She started whining, inched her way out and leapt into my arms. There’s a picture of that moment, taken by a friend with me. The look on my face, and Brandys, is utter visceral relief!

    It’s great to read about a similar experience to mine – so glad you got Cupcake back x

    • Mel
      August 22, 2013 at 6:29 AM

      Your story made me tear up. Yes. Very similar. Emotional too. I am so glad you have her back.

  41. Susan
    August 22, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    We had a dog missing for 6 weeks and we were sure we would never see her again. Buffy got bumped by a car going past our place it was a miserable day sleet and rain in the north woods of Wisconsin. Because she was hurt and frighten she ran off and wouldn’t come when we called her. One morning as the kids were getting up and ready for school we heard barking at the door. Buffy had come home and she kept barking until she saw that all 7 of us were there. Where she was we never found out but if someone took her in and she took off she knew where home was and she came back to us. Also you should know she was an outside dog not chained. She never ran off again and we had her until it was her time to go. We still miss her.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      Wow Susan. What an amazing sort. Brought tears to my eyes. She clearly knew where home was and knew what to do to get back to you.

  42. August 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    I have a weird question but so I have a good friend and his dog would always get out like every other day and go for a trip and come back. When we were roommates the dog would be waiting on the patio till someone would come home to let her in. Now we would get very drunk and pee outside as men do all throughout the night while drinking beer and sitting on the front porch with this dog. My question is – would the smell of all that remind her that house is hers?

    • Mel
      August 22, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Actually, not so weird. Yes. It could very well had led her back. Placing the owner’s urine near a trap is a tactic that has been used before. I always recommend owners of lost dogs do two things first, start creating fliers and posting them in the neighborhood and place an article of their clothing or the dog’s bed outside the home. They come back to familiar smells.

  43. Joyce Lawton
    August 23, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    I usually walk my dogs (both rescues) on lead or turn them loose in their yard. One night one of them got loose and the second jerked free to retrieve him. Ellie turned Xander around and I caught him. She found herself on the wrong side of a heavily traficked road. She saw a gap and ran towards us. I heard brakes squeal and a loud thwack. A few seconds later she rolled at high speed out from the back of the car and took off into hundreds of acres of woods and farms.
    We searched for days. We put up flyers, called all the local vets and rescues….no Ellie.
    She had been fascinated by my new grandson, would lie next to him and lick him every day. I was changing him in my bed when the little guy pee’d all over my quilt. I finished changing him, took the quilt and hung it over the back porch rail ( on the side if the house she went missing) . The next night, walking with my daughter and grandson, around the house trots Ellie, right to the carriage.
    It turned out her retractable lead snapped and hit the car…she was spun out the back end. I knew she was frightened and confused and not responding to our calls, so I used the scent if her favorite human to lure her home after a week. She was a bit dirty with a scrape on one paw, but otherwise unscathed. Scent is a dogs most powerful tool. We used it and it worked.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      Wow Joyce! What an incredible story. Yes. A dog’s nose can be very helpful when they are lost. I have seen two stories already where a dog came home after someone left something outside that smelled like them and their dog. I always recommend putting a dog crate and or bed outside and an article of your clothing. You were very smart to do what you did. I am so glad she is back!

  44. August 23, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    I always tell people that are fostering or adopting to not let the dog off lead for several months as if they get away, and many dogs to spook, and it seems they do a lot, they do not rally have a closeness to you or the area.
    They need to know you and the surroundings.
    I am so glad you were able to find her..
    You both are very lucky.
    Good article!

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      Thanks Cape Cod Brown Dogs. I am so glad you mentioned this. We also do the same with MN Sheltie Rescue. In fact, we ask that our dogs are always leashed if not inside a fenced yard. I have seen WAY too many dogs go missing within the first few days or hours of going to their new home or a foster home. Really great advice. Thank you.

      • August 30, 2013 at 4:11 AM

        Thanks and here is to no more lost dogs
        Oh wouldn’t that be great!

  45. August 23, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    It took me 9 days to find one of my dogs when she ran off. No human could get anywhere near here even though she is a sweetheart. What worked is bringing another one of my dogs that she knows. When she saw him, she slowly walked toward him and I waited without moving or saying anything. Something I wished I had know 9 days earlier.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:25 PM

      I am so glad that worked! 9 days is a long time too. I cannot imagine how afraid you were for her. I think what made the difference is you didn’t move until she was right there. I am so glad you have her back.

  46. August 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Yes bringing one of her friends is a very good thing to have her come around..

  47. TinaC
    August 25, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    Thanks for the tips and sharing your story! I second the suggestion of bringing another trusted animal companion with you if there is one. I used to live near a retirement community and a couple of times helped non-mobile neighbors find their lost pets by bringing their other dog with me. The dogs didn’t even know me, but came to the other dog that they knew, Since the other dog trusted and was calm around me they let me catch them and bring them home, even in stressful situations.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      Great advice. I think bringing another dog they know can really work. Unfortunately, many people assume any dog will work and I have never found this to be the case. Not that it can’t happen, but I have never seen it work personally. Thanks for sharing your own experience!

  48. Charlene
    August 25, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    I had quite a scary feeling on the day my siberian husky got out, he’s a rescue dog we took in from a friend after she couldn’t cope with him anymore. She had a female Siberian and the two didn’t seem to get along. Sam has A LOT of energy and has had no training at all. He gets so excited when we feed him, its adorable. My sister was leaving early in the morning to go to the station and Sam just bolted past her out the door, we had only had him for about two days and he just ran for it. My sister chased after him the best she could but she had to get her train and so woke me up. Now I had just come out of hospital following surgery so you can imagine how sore I was looking for Sam. But would you believe the amount of people he stopped at and none of them would grab him for me no matter how much I shouted at the two. I live near a very busy road going onto a roundabout so was terrified he was going to get hit by a car and the sad thing is he did. I managed to corner him in a church parking lot but he got out the other side before I could shut the gate and a car hit him in the back legs. No thankfully the car had slowed down enough as it came up to the roundabout but the howl I heard from him terrified me and all my pain vanished as I ran to him. We had been searching for hours for him, calling him to try and get him to follow us but to no avail and so in that moment I rushed to his side. Ever since that day he never leaves my side, he curls up beside us. He only suffered a bit of bruising thankfully but that day I had never been so scared in my life. He’s brilliant now and is so well behaved, we’ve had him for two years now. I can now walk him without a lead and he comes to his name every time. I know it’s not as scary as yours but it’s a bit similiar.

    • Mel
      August 25, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      Charlene – You definitely can relate. There is nothing like the fear of losing a dog. You had the additional fear of him getting hit by a car. Yeah. That was my fear every day. I cannot imagine what that must have been like. I am so glad he is so attached to you now. I’m guessing that scare with the car and your loving care afterwards bonded you for life. Wow. What a story.

  49. Connie
    August 26, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Back in Nov. 2011, our two Doberman girls ran off after deer while hubby was not paying attention. They were gone for five days. It was five days of torture. We live in a rural area, and there were sightings in response to posters we put up. They were about 2-3 miles from home. People who spotted them could not get close. They approached a woman in her yard, but when she spoke and moved, they ran off. We were running to different areas each time we got a call, only to find them vanished into the woods again. I was reminded of it all once I read your article.

    Finally they were spotted behind someone’s home at night. The person was not home, it was a neighbor. In the morning, only Daisy was still there. Her sibling, Duchess, was trying to get home. We believe they both picked up our scent, as that very afternoon we were not far from where they were, and we drove home on the road Duchess was following. She was travelling in the right direction, but was hit by a car at night, whose driver just left her there, all broken up. Meanwhile, the man who owned the home where Daisy was saw her and remembered seeing our poster. He called us and we were able to get her back. She did recognize my husband when he called to her at least. I still cry for my Duchess.

  50. Sara Crystal
    August 26, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    my friend nadia moved to a very rural area and her kitty soon went missing for 5 days. worried sick, went for a walk with my smart dog ellie around her patch of woods and ellie marked everywhere ( shar pei). we called her but no response. the very next am the kitty showed up. think she was confused and afraid to approach the house but she knew ellie’s scent from previous visits. happy ending, ellie showed her the way home I think.sara

  51. Linda Gandy
    August 29, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    I had a foster collie, Barney, that was frightened by fireworks and escaped. He ran in the woods, and although we could hear him, would not come to me or my husband. The next morning I started driving around our rural subdivision asking people if they saw him. One girl said he was going down a road. I found him in front of a house. I pulled in the drive, got out and opened the back door of our crew cab truck. Barney saw me. I said “Barney, get in the truck!”. This is what I would say to all the dogs. I reached into my purse for a treat and did not see him at first. Then I realized he was sitting in the back seat! My first incident with him. Then I left him with a friend who fosters – in town – for we were going on a trip. We were seeing how he would handle it for a few days before we left. Barney got out and ran off. Jim, the other foster searched for him. He was staying in an area that was like a park setting but behind home for the utilities. People saw him but no one could get him. I brought my dog, Spirit with me. After not seeing him, I headed for the truck. Then I saw him. He was about 500 feet away sniffing a tree. I started talking to Spirit very loudly telling her what a good girl she was. He looked up and saw us. I yelled “Hi Barnster (as I called him)” and he came running and jumped in my arms. He was gone three days. Both times I let the dog make the decision to come to me.

  52. August 30, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Thanks goodness that you found Cupcake. It’s devastating to think that when you’ve lost a dog, or other family pet for that matter, that you may never see them again. I lost one of our loving, friendly cats outdoors and he also went into survival mode. We had to live-trap him back into the house and when I let him loose in the bedroom, I wasn’t sure if I’d just let a scared raccoon or our Maine Coon cat back into the house. Luckily it was our kitty! If you’re interested, you can read about our adventure: http://www.dianeweidenbenner.com/2012/04/blogging-from-to-z-maine-or-rac-coon.html

  53. September 2, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    Reblogged this on Things & Chiz.

  54. September 8, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    Sheer Terror when your dog is missing and all you can think is the very worst

    • Mel
      September 8, 2013 at 8:38 PM

      I could not agree more. It is the most helpless feeling in the world.

  55. September 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM

    Great article. It’s really moving.

  56. Joyce James
    September 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Every dog owner / foster needs to read this. This applies to more than just lost dogs. Shania this is for you,I will always love you!!!!!

    • Mel
      September 11, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Thanks Joyce. I hope it helps any dog owner who loses a pet. Been there. Never want to go there again.

  57. Valerie
    September 16, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Good article. My dog Lacy has questionable recall, my fault for not trusting her to decide and slacking on the lead training. The trainer got her to heel off leash every time, even around other dogs..but I just didn’t trust her enough..so here we are. I do think she would come back to where she got out eventually..but when? My sister and I were talking about what would happen with the dogs in a crisis? She has two dogs who have had the benefit of being allowed to “run until it hurts” here in the Arizona desert, however, sometimes when they start showing distress by limping they still don’t come back. She has to get in her car and rev her engine then get them to chase her car..this usually works.
    But in a crisis, a fire, flood, etc..would they stick around to be secured?? She thinks one might, but the other one..probably not. She’s pretty sure that would be it and Striker would go feral.
    She knows her dogs like I know my children. I hope we never find out. But we often plan for emergencies that will hopefully never happen. It would break our hearts to know our beloved is out there struggling to survive, and we would certainly miss that warm body in the bed.

    • Mel
      September 16, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      At least you plan for the possibility. I wrote the piece because I know so many people don’t know what can happen when a dog goes missing. I know firsthand now, but my heart breaks every time I hear of another dog becoming lost. So sad and scared for both them and their owners.

  58. cheryl
    September 16, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    My puppy mill dog has been with me for 2 years and my greatest fear is that she will get out of the house/yard, I know I will never see her again, she will bolt. Thanks for the tips just in case the unthinkable happens.

    • Mel
      September 16, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      I know your fear Cheryl. I had the same fears with Daisy in the early days and still fear it with Cupcake.

  59. September 17, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

  60. Jacque
    September 20, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    Thank you for this very good article. I am so glad that you and Cupcake were reunited!

    One of my dogs got away in a strange mountainous area and she was running from everyone who tried to help her.

    She had a leash attached to her and I was so afraid that she would get it caught on something. I honestly thought I’d find her body, if I was lucky.

    I passed flyers out and got a call from someone who said that she kept returning to his driveway (on several acres of ground) but would run if he tried to get to her.

    We finally drove up to the site with her favorite male dog and let him mark the area where we would wait for her.

    The next day, I got a call that she was there, I drove to the place, parked quite a ways away (because I saw her) and waited for her to listen to my voice. She was sniffing where the male had marked! I spoke softly to her and she froze. I spoke again, very softly, and she ran to me!

    She was gone four days and three long nights…but we have her home.

    • Mel
      September 20, 2013 at 5:52 AM

      Your story brought tears to my eyes. I am so very glad you got her back Jacque. People have a hard time believing Flyers work, but they do. And, you did everything exactly right. So very happy for you and her.

    • September 20, 2013 at 6:20 AM

      Great story of patience, understanding, perception and perseverance.

  61. September 20, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    My son adopted a former stray and even two years later she still has a “flight” mentality. We have to be extra cautious opening any doors in our house and in fact we have started operation code “Teagan” whenever someone is coming or going, she is put in a bedroom. Nothing is scarier then a dog bolting out the door.

  62. September 23, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    Growing up, I had a collie named Peaches who looked a lot like your Cupcake. I loved that dog so much. One day, she ran away. Months went by, and there was no sign of her. One day a YEAR later, we got home, and there sitting under the tree by the driveway was Peach. We couldn’t believe it. After a YEAR!! It was a miracle. I will never forget that day.

    • Mel
      September 23, 2013 at 6:02 AM

      That is truly amazing Jennifer. Wow! I bet you wonder where she was for that year huh? Holy cow!

  63. Lea D
    October 29, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Maggie the Sheltie in Penfield, NY was on the run for 9 months endured the cold and snow…. Maggies owner got to see her once and call to her and threw her food, but she went the other way. She was finally trapped on a porch that had food out for her and a night camera…. Another sheltie made is way back to his original home that took weeks. I have given a poodle to my neighbor and she was with her and happy for a month or two.. Then she got out the door… For over a week we hunted for her and had posters, etc. Chris spotted her one night just after dark about two miles from home in the middle of the road.. Chris got down on her knee and begged for her to come.. She went the other way, into a field… We put a trap out for her in the area she went.. 2 hours later we trapped her with the smell of food… We really did not think she would go in the trap but she was hungry.

  64. April 2, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    I have a dog that originally came from a puppy mill. He had two homes before he was taken in by us. He’s very skittish and even if you make a sudden, slight off of a noise he just automatically comes around and barks. Small bichon and is four years old right now. I hope he never runs away since I know someone will likely take him and not bring him back and even if we were to get him back, chances are he probably won’t recognize us. He’s very weary of other people. Has an inferiority complex that’s not helping anything. Thanks for this article, I’m leaving it on my favorites.

    • Mel
      April 2, 2014 at 9:11 PM

      You are so welcome Nikki. You may want to check out Fearfuldogs.com for some great info and videos on how to help puppy mill dogs. I am fostering a puppy mill dog right now named Maggie. Right now we are working on hand-targeting and making eye contact. My first mill dog, Daisy, has made amazing progress and now interacts with people regularly and loves going for walks. So glad my post was helpful to you.

  65. Mac
    May 20, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    My dad was in the military and was transferred in March one year when I was 13. He went ahead to the new city until June when school was out, and we could all move. We had a cocker spaniel that was about 10 years old. She would normally get very excited and happy when we came home, even from a day shopping. If we had to board her for a short while, she would get absolutely hysterical when she saw us, crying, piddling, and almost waging her tail right off. When my dad finally came in the door after about 3 months, she barked at the “stranger”, then stopped cold and almost shoved nose in his shoe. She stayed “attached” to him for about 3 minutes, trying to figure out who the familiar smell belonged to. All of a sudden it clicked and she almost had a heart attack! running in circles barking, crying and piddling all over the place. It was about 5 minutes before she finally calmed down, and in another few minutes walked over to her bed and went to sleep!.

    • Mel
      May 21, 2014 at 6:34 AM

      That is the sweetest story ever! I love how she had to sniff his shoe to realize who he was. I found the same thing happened with my lost dog Cupcake. Once she could smell me she was able to recognize me. Your Dad must have been so touched by her reaction. 🙂

  66. June 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    That was an awesome story. I especially liked the part where the dog had to sniff his shoes to gain his trust. The dog said “oh yea that’s my owner, I remember chewing on shoes that smelt like this.”

  67. Val O'Neil
    June 10, 2014 at 10:50 PM

    It’s funny, there is a dog recovery organization here in New Hampshire and one story really stuck out to me. There was a dog they were having trouble catching. I don’t remember all the details of how long it had been out there or what kind of dog. But it was finally caught when someone stopped to try and catch it, offered it fried chicken (which it wouldn’t even consider) and then on a whim asked “wanna go for a ride?” and opened the car door. The dog who wouldn’t be approached, didn’t answer to it’s name, and wouldn’t even accept food, immediately ran and jumped in the back seat of the car. It’s funny the triggers that remain in the back of that survival mode brain!

    • Mel
      June 11, 2014 at 4:31 AM

      That’s awesome Val! I had not heard that one. I’m guessing the group you are speaking of is the Granite State Dog Recovery group. Great organization. I have shared their videos and imformation before.

      Thank you for sharing that story.

  68. Kev's mum
    June 11, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    My dog got lost in the woods once 😦 by the time I was told it was getting dark out and they were coming back for torches. I cried and then grabbed my coat straight away and headed out. I asked his sister where he was and followed her through undergrowth. My boy is EXTREMELY scared of strangers. When I eventually found him he was in full panic mode, I still can’t get over how afraid he looked. I watched him go to bolt and called his name. That was the moment I really realised how much I have his trust. He did a double take and threw himself at me instead. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to find your dog only to watch it run in the opposite direction 😦

  69. June 13, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    i recently was reunited with a foster dog that ran away from her new adopters after only 4 days wit them. She was living in the woods on the outskirts of the subdivision for 15 days before we were able to catch her. she was almost 2 hours away from where i live but i made the trek every day for 13 days. when i decided to let her decompress and with the help of animal control set a trap and not go back for a few days. (the only thing we caught in the trap was a possum). Molly befriended another dog at the dead end near the woods and it was during a bad thunderstorm that she decided to go into their fenced in yard. Molly ran from me every time i got within 10 feet of her. this last day she even tried to run but i slowly approached her, not making eye contact and she finally gave in. when i brought her home and she saw all my dogs again, i knew right then she was staying here. We just caught Molly 2 days ago and I can’t stop looking at her! this is a great article, thank you!

    • Mel
      June 13, 2014 at 9:58 PM

      Congrats Rosey. That is truly an amazing story. I feel like we share so many similarities. Cupcake was like Molly in terms of lack of early socialization. She came from a mill. My heart breaks reading Molly’s background. How absolutely sad and horrible. I cannot imagine doing that to a dog. Ugh!
      I am glad you caught Molly and that she recognized her home when she saw your dogs. I am so glad she is staying. 🙂

  70. June 13, 2014 at 9:05 PM

    i forgot to add that Molly’s previous adopter dumped her in a high kill shelter in rural NC after keeping her in a walk in closet for 4 months because she wasn’t allowed to have a dog. Molly is terrified of humans and she was pretty overwhelmed at being outside after being deprived form all sensory stimulation for 4 months of her puppy hood

  71. June 15, 2014 at 5:33 AM

    This is so interesting! My contribution/lost dog story is this:
    We adopted a very sweet 8 week old Boxer shortly after we bought our home. Everything went great, she was a loving, confident, sassy girl and settled in quickly. At that time I only worked part-time, I was home by 2 PM. One day when she was about 4 MO, I was at work when a lightening storm hit, very unusual for our area (So. Cal) I raced home and Rocky was no where to be found! OMG, I was out of my mind, I knew there was no way she could get out of our house or yard,(we had a doggie door) it was very secure. I called and called, getting more and more frantic, and more and more wet, it was pouring! FINALLY I found my little girl cowering under a shrub in the back yard, soaked and trembling uncontrollably. She shivered for days and would not leave my side, she just freaked out. Poor Rock was a fearful dog from that day on, her whole personality changed. We had her for many more years, she was such a good and loving girl, but oh my! Every time there was even a hint of rain or thunder she just lost it, she was terrified. But oh my, what a darling, darling girl, we loved her so much and still think of her often….

  72. Tiffany
    June 26, 2014 at 8:49 AM

    Aw, your reunion with cupcake was lovely. I wish mine was that way but I my dog was lost for a year and a couple months. Somebody stole him.

    When I found it he was al ready adopted and didn’t wanted to return home. I was heartbroken but then I realize how much his new owners loved him and how he loved his environment that I decided to let him stay. It really hurted because I had raised him since he was a puppy and we use to do everything together. He was 2 years-old when they stoled him. (He is a shih tzu and was on my backyard. Too small to run away, somebody grabbed him)

  73. July 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    I would love to have your permission to publish this is my quarterly magazine.

  74. Jeanine Long
    July 23, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    We lived on the edge of town next to a national forest in coastal NC. Our collies without our knowledge opened the porch door and gate and got loose. A big storm was approaching when we heard big bangs on the front door. Casey came rushing in. He was alone. We put a padlock on the gate and no more escapes! Bonnie was missing and leary of people she didn’t know. A year later 1/2 mile from our home, I spotted her walking in a front yard. I stopped the car and left it running. I got out and called her name. She stopped and looked at me. I opened the door and asked her to go for a ride. She came running and jumped in. Our family was so happy to have her back!

    • Mel
      July 23, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      Oh man Jeanine. I got
      All choked up reading your story. A year later? That is truly a miracle. Welcome home Bonnie. I bet your mom
      Cried when she found you and you jumped into the car.

  75. bpgagirl22vanow
    July 30, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    Thank God I’ve never had to go through this with any of my pets. Mine were always on leashes! Josey got away from me a couple of times but I got her real quick! She was fast! LOL She darted from me when I was putting her in my Jeep once to take her to the Critter Bath shop for her bath, I opened the door, dropped her leash to fix her spot on the seat and I turned around – GONE! OMG! I hollered and hollered and went out to the street and she had zoomed down the street past 5 houses almost to the main road! I ran and got her stopped! Whew! That never happened again! She was something else! LOL

  76. Renee
    August 9, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    the article and comments were helpful. my rescue boy, 1 year old got lost out in the bush yesterday. he doesn’t have a lot of confidence on his own and therefore teams up with our other dog usually, also does not have a great orientation to the area. i was in absolute chaos mode when searching for him (as the bush land is so vast) but after reading this i have some order in my mind as to what could possibly be expected and how to approach my pup if (when) i find him.. on sunrise i’ll start the search again with a bit more direction in my head

    • Mel
      August 10, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      I am so sorry Renee. I sure hope you find him.

  77. Melanie
    September 20, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    My baby boy came up missing 1 day ago. I have put up flyers registered him as missing at the local dog wardens office. I called the police to see if anyone found a dog. I have had him for 10 years and I am sick to my stomach. This article has help me as to what I may expect from my boy.

    • Mel
      September 21, 2014 at 8:02 AM

      Oh Melanie, I am so sorry. I hope and pray that you have your baby back soon. Make sure you check areas where your dog could get stuck close to home. Sometimes dogs wander into a garage or a bog and get stuck. Keep passing out flyers and consider doing some signs. The more eyes looking, the more chance you have of finding him. Good luck hon.

  78. Beth
    September 22, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    I do feel for you as my Bronson has been gone for 6 weeks and 4 days. But saw him 2 times today. It is so hard to not run to him. He is 1 1/2 hours away from home. Now I have some good helpers in the area he is in. It kills me every time I need to leave him behind. Hoping for a good week this week.

    • Mel
      September 22, 2014 at 10:17 PM

      Two times is really encouraging Beth! I am glad you have some helpers. Any chance you can set up a food station to keep him there and then set a trap?
      I so hope you can get him back soon. Sending prayers!

  79. Cathy Benbrook
    November 30, 2014 at 1:03 AM

    Hello to anyone out there who has lost their “baby” or “best friend” The reason I am writing this is to hopefully ease your mind and help mend your broken hearts. I recently found a dog. He had no identification and no responses to my efforts to help find his family. It has been two weeks now and this little guy is going to be very very well taken care of. We bought him a beautiful 50.00 doggie bed, took him to the vet and for a well check, bought him good quality dog food and realize too that he was deeply loved and cared for by his previous owners. We, my family have loved on him and committed to give him a happy, loving home. I just wanted to let you know that as difficult as it is to not know where or who has your lost loved one that there are families out there that will love and take care of them. Know too that animals have something special about them that makes us want to love help and support them in their time of need. Take care my heart goes out to each and every one of you.

  80. Reagan
    December 26, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    My dog has been missing for a total of 3 days now, I just keep thinking of the worst possibilities. What if someone stole her and she is scared to death locked up in a cage? What if she was hit by a car? or what if she is just wondering the woods alone with no food or shelter? My other dog keeps whining and crying for her, making noises I’ve never heard before. I’m starting to think she may never return. :..(

    • Mel
      December 29, 2014 at 9:41 AM

      Oh Reagan, I am so sorry! Did you find her? I am hoping so. I can relate to all the same worries. Let me tell you that dogs are way more resilient than we think. They can survive quite a long time on their own. I am constantly amazed at how long they can be on their own and then make it home. Have you put out food where she was lost? Have you placed an article of clothing that smells like you there? Or her bed there? Scent can draw them back.
      Above all, flyers handed to people in the area and posted at bus stops or other public places can helps so much. The more people who are aware and have eyes looking, the greater your chances of finding her. Please let me know if she has returned and/or if you need any help or tips. I have been where you are and it is easy to get discouraged. Don’t give up hope.

  81. Lizzy
    December 28, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    This article seems very helpful! We lost our German Shepherd on Christmas Eve. We finally saw her today but ran when we yelled her name. Tomorrow we will go back with some of these helpful tips!

    • Danny
      June 2, 2015 at 10:23 PM

      I hope you found him im so sorry

  82. Serendipawty
    January 16, 2015 at 5:00 AM

    Reblogged this on Adultivity and commented:
    Worth a read to remind us of the things we take for granted!

  83. January 17, 2015 at 5:50 AM

    I was at a dog show and had a foster dog with me that I not long had and he got out the window of the caravan when I went to walk some of the other (not all of them he was left with my sister and my other dogs also been there 3 days with window open) he ran round the dog show very lost and people followed him at a distance till they got me,he headed for the hedge near the road when I got to him I called him but wouldnt come out so I sat down with my back to him and called him and thankfully he came to me. Reading that made me feel that I not as daft as I think I am! or just got lucky. Mo Steves partner.

  84. rjreitinger
    January 21, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    Reblogged this on sentencedtoread and commented:
    This is important for every dog owner.

  85. Tosha Palmer
    January 25, 2015 at 4:34 PM

    When Spitfire became lost after the May 3, 99 tornado, we called and checked the shelters constantly. It was 3 weeks when we finally found him, the shelter had finally caught him. As soon as he heard mine and my mothers voice, he was trying to get through a hole to us, whining and barking.

  86. Shawna
    January 26, 2015 at 12:13 PM

    I lost one of my chows while camping. During the search i later found out i was right in front of him, and he didn’t make a sound. On the 9th day we brought his sister with us to where he was last seen. She went straight to him and started licking his face. It annoyed him as he was focused on me. I softly called to him, and he started shaking. After a few minuted he came running to me. I had a can of dog food with me as he was starving. He was a bit banged up, but very happy to be found. I wish we would have thought to bring our other chow down to the river with us sooner. We were told he would not come to us, as he was in shock, survival mode. Another thing i tried was to mix the pee of the person he is bonded with, dilute with water in a spray bottle. I know its weird, but worth the try. Go to where he was last seen, and spray a trail back to where you are. That w as easier done in the woods vs. the city. Also bring a blanket from home with familiar scent on it and leave where he was spotted. My sister lost her chow on July 4th. Spooked by fireworks. 6 days later he found the kids at their daycare center, 35 blocks from home. They were inside the building and heard a dog barking at the fence. It was theirs. He smelled their scent.

  87. G.Yates
    February 1, 2015 at 11:13 PM

    I had a dog I had to put in kennels as I was going overseas for 3 months. When I came back, at the kennels she did not know me and barked and barked at me as if I was a stranger. I kept talking to her and finally said to her – Judy going tats in the car with her misses – which is what I always said if we were taking her out in the car. As soon as I said that she gave one big yelp jumped all over me, licking my face and then ran to the car and back to me. Then she would not leave the car. She jumped in and we went home.

    • Mel
      February 1, 2015 at 11:21 PM

      That is amazing. Wow! Sometimes it is a familiar phrase, sound or scent. How cool to have her recognize you with that phrase.

  88. February 21, 2015 at 3:04 PM

    my dog was missing for 4 years, she never recognised me until 18 months after i found her, i picked her up from kennels as i had been away for a week put her in the car on the floor between my legs and she cried yelped barked for nearly half an hour i have never witnessed anything like it before bless her x

    • Mel
      February 22, 2015 at 8:21 AM

      18 months? Holy cow Dawn!
      How did you know she did not recognize you sooner? That is a long time!

  89. Masa
    February 23, 2015 at 3:53 AM

    Thanks a lot for your text Mel, it was very useful for me to read. I did not go through all the comments and discussion so sorry if i repeat a question posed already. Does dog’s age influence the ability to recognize you once lost? I had a labrador 5 years old, he is been missing for almost a year. You think even older dogs cannot reconize their care takes easily after some time or come back home when nearby? many thanks! masha

    • Mel
      February 23, 2015 at 6:54 AM

      Hi Masha,
      I think every dog is different, but based on all the stories I have seen and read, the dog always ends up remembering their owner. I don’t think they evert forget, they just get disoriented. I am so sorry your dog is missing. Such heartache. 😦
      I pray you get him back.

      • Masa
        February 23, 2015 at 7:02 AM

        Thanks a lot!
        Let’s see..

  90. Sandy Athens
    April 20, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    April 2015…I am so glad your article was posted on Facebook. I am so happy that sweet Cupcake found you!

    • Mel
      April 22, 2015 at 6:48 AM

      Thank you! Me too! I am very lucky.

  91. michelle
    April 21, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    I just cried when I read this. How she sighed when she knew it was you and leaned into you knowing she was now safe. I have a rescue Min Pin who went missing early this month for 4 days. She has trust issues and will not let anyone but myself or my son touch her. I was afraid she would just keep running and running from any one trying to help find her. When I finally found where she was hiding I went and sat there, called her name softly letting her know I was there. I walked away and came back and sat a few times. It was about the third time I did this when I was sitting there with my back to her she walked up behind me and put her paw on my back. I will never forget the touch of that paw. The sense of relief, of happiness that I felt at that moment was overwhelming. I knew then the trust that this little girl has in me to keep her safe.

    • Mel
      April 22, 2015 at 6:50 AM

      To be honest Michelle, I cry every time I think about that moment. It was a pretty powerful moment, and very emotional too. I am so glad you got your girl back.

  92. Danny
    June 2, 2015 at 10:13 PM

    My dog just escaped from her harness and She ran off She is my best friend iv ever had its so scary it was 4am so no cars as she was running on the road its one of the worst expieriences ever I dont think I could live with myself if She died unaturally. She stopped for a poo and I managed to get her and carry her all the way home her name is Gracie nick name boo boo and I love her with all my heart.

  93. June 19, 2015 at 2:38 PM

    our problem with Zippy, he Zips away and under the porch and under the house when he doesn’t want to come, frustrating, he use to come for a treat, won’t come in house in summer, only when it rains and especially lightning

  94. jaime
    June 19, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    My dog is a country dog his name is Kato, I found him as a pup not even a week, abandoned and dying in a field. I raised him from then on. He is 3 now, I read this article and try to relate but I can’t. Kato and I are inseparable, he knows this land is his and is free to roam it. He always comes back to me no matter what. Love this guy 😊👍🐶

  95. July 11, 2015 at 5:13 PM

    Did you end up adopting cupcake? I believe you said she was your foster pup, right?

  96. Mai Le
    July 12, 2015 at 10:28 PM

    I have 4 little dogs , it just happened few hours ago , when I walked 2 dogs and 2 others have been outside the yard and when I came back i noticed that one of my youngest and smallest dog is missing and its usual coz she can went through from anything and she usually came back stand by the door right away but this time I was checking all over the house didn’t see her then I was going to close the door and look for her then a lady came to my door asked if I was looking for dogs I said yes and she said the dog is at her house if I want to follow her to get my dog she said she knew it was my dog , when she opened her house I saw my dog I called her name and my dog didn’t come to me just standed there , I tried to called her name few times but she ran right up stair it was shock me I was so sad wanted to cry and I am the one who spoil and love my dogs like crazy , then I had to go up stair to get her omg , it’s sad and a little bit mad at her too , she’s now right on my labs , she follow me everywhere I go in the house even I am in the washroom , In the kitchen , go up and down , it’s sad I don’t know why .

  97. Debbie
    July 14, 2015 at 7:49 PM

    Very true. We had our dog go missing one rainy day. It was months before she was found only a few miles away by a friend. It had to be her, because of her distinctive collar, but she didn’t know us and was afraid. Because she was rescued by friends, we did take her home with us, and over time she regained her trust, and wonderful attitude. But it was truly as if we were meeting a stray dog, during our first meeting. The whole incident was tragic, but we were all very lucky in the end. (btw, this was back in the days when it wasn’t unusual for a dog to wonder occasionally in areas close to home.- today our dogs are closely monitored when outside.)

  98. August 6, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    my dog “Sheba” a jack Russel terrier went missing from my fenced in yard july 16th 2015. i live in the country, and after hours and days of searching, i still couldn’t locate her. she had a distinctive black spot on her side in the shape of a heart, yet with all the adds, and calls i made no one had seen her.
    today on 08-06-2015 :22 days later on a rainy day a strange silver car pulls into my driveway. when i walked outside to see what the person wanted they said they was looking for a tan colored house, and they had come to pick up a small dog. which i thought was weird in itself, the man driving didn’t even have an address to go off of.
    at the very moment i hear a whine and i look down at my feet, and i see my lost dog “Sheba” just laying there. immediately i am shocked and rejoiced at the same time. but i had to take a second look because she barely resembled the healthy dog she was when she disappeared 22 days ago. i told the man to hold on and i carried my dog to my front door and placed her inside. when i turned around to go talk to the man, i had every intention of snatching him up and interrogating him about my dog magically appearing at my feet at the same time he arrived in my driveway, but he was already in his car and driving away at an increased rate of speed. he didn’t even have a rear license plate on his vehicle.
    “Sheba” has lost 60% of her body mass, and she has cuts, and scrapes, and bite marks all over her limbs, her hind quarters and mid section are extremely bruised in different spots almost as if someone had repeatedly kicked her over and over again in different areas.
    the important thing is shes home, and a vet has been scheduled to look at her. with some prayers and tons of TLC she will heal and make a full recovery.
    i seriously think someone took her from my yard, and she was used as a bait dog for illegal fighting.
    i live in a very small town population 900 people. i have decided to investigate and locate, and shut down this ring if it does exist!

    • Bettie
      August 6, 2015 at 7:15 PM

      God bless your poor dog. Hope for a full recovery. Please find the people that done that and jail time for them. Praying for you both!

  99. September 22, 2015 at 4:56 PM

    I had only had a rescue dog for a week when she pulled out of her harness and ran away, we were in a park 2 miles from home. I got in my car and went looking. After an hour I saw her heading towards home, I got ahead and got out of the car and she immediately ran away? After a few minutes I saw her at the top of the street, I don’t know why but I quickly opened the door of the house and then parked across the street she headed straight into the house and I screeched the car across the front yard and blocked the door. When I went in the house she was sitting in the kitchen relaxed as could be and she came right over to me for a fuss. I guess outside she automatically went into survival mode? she had spent her whole life as a street dog before we got her.

  100. Evelyn
    November 7, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    My dog has been lost for 6 days and I’ve been thinking the worst possibilities. All these past days I kept searching for her nonstop. The house seems really quite without me playing with her squeaky toy. The last report I got from her is when they saw her cross the street. I really hope to find her, my dog has been with me for 6 years and it’s really sad knowing she’s not with me. Hopefully, I get reunited with my dog like all these stories here.

    • Mel
      November 11, 2015 at 6:12 AM

      Oh Evelyn, I am so sorry. I am just seeing this now. Have you found her yet? Have you placed clothing where she has been seen? Clothing that smells like you? Have you put up fliers? There are some great tips on the Lost Dogs Minnesota page on Facebook that may help you. I am praying you have already found her and don’t need them.

  101. Lindy
    December 20, 2015 at 1:33 PM

    Helpful Hint — Please purchase a personalized collar from LLBean, with the dog’s name and your cell phone number embroidered on it, in a contrasting color. I think they are less than $20. I seem to be a magnet for lost dogs. But, I cannot always get close enough to read their dog tags, and thus allow me to call their owners. But, with this collar, from LLBean, I can read it from a distance. (And, no, I do not work for, or have any association with LLBean.)

  102. Bev Perez
    January 1, 2016 at 12:16 PM

    My son has a female mastif/sheperd mix that he adopted from a shelter. We have had her for 4 months. Milly just turned a year old on Dec 15. She is a runner. She has managed to get out the front door 3 times – twice my son was able to run her down and catch her. One time she was picked up by animal control. Your idea is great and I understand how it would work. Because she is such a tunnel vision runner – she does not look back or slow down – it is a full out haul ass run – she is out of sight within 10 seconds. Any ideas or suggestions for this situation? Our other dog is a 7 year old lab/retriever mix – she may go out off leash but only ventures 2 or 3 houses either way and will come when call – mostly she stays close to me. We want to be able to have Milly off leash in the front yard and not have her run off.

  103. February 14, 2016 at 1:05 AM

    I have a question, if you were fostering cupcake and you know how bad their life was before you, how did you let her get away from you? I’m not understanding how you could lose a dog you were fostering.

  104. John Singleton
    February 14, 2016 at 1:54 PM

    lost a sheltie 9 years ago. Unfortunately, it was in the area where my mother lived, not near our home. We never found him. What little we were able to learn, we feel that someone picked him up, but never responded to our flyers, radio announcements, and many of the things your recommended. Will never forget the feeling of helplessness.

    • Mel
      February 15, 2016 at 8:58 PM

      Oh John, I am so very sorry. It makes me sad that you never found him. It was the one fear I had when Cupcake was missing. Yes, that feeling of helplessness was sad and overwhelming. I am so sorry. I pray that you see him again on the other side.

  105. Deborah Cranson
    February 24, 2016 at 9:14 PM

    That was exactly what happened with my lost girl. I had her “sister” with me thank God and sat on the ground in the woods where the neighbor took me to so I could get her. If I had not sat on the ground with my other girl on a long lead I have no doubt she would have kept away and running. When she came up to us she smelled me and I picked her up and she kept kissing my face like she always did. That was the point of us being reunited once again. It tore me up to have had her lost for 7 days and nights. I did not lose her, my mate had her outside and she took off on him. It was the most horrible week I ever lived through thinking all the worse thoughts. She was a little one only 8 lbs.and 11 yrs old. I did not realize she was becoming deaf., She was with me for another 4 years and the time came when life for her was not good at all so me and the vet made that decision, I could not let her suffer. My vet said we were doing right by her. I still cry and miss her terribly but we had a good 15 years together, I had her mom so I watched her being born, I will always love her, she is a part of me. We buried her in our woods on our property. Lily I miss you and I love you girl I will see you on the other side. Until then you are in my heart. Love you. Momma

  106. robin
    March 22, 2016 at 4:35 PM

    I realize that this was written to help and I plan on remembering you advice incase I need it but cheese and hot dogs are a very bad idea.thye can even kill your pet.thanks so much for sharing your knowledge:)

    • Mel
      March 23, 2016 at 6:35 AM

      Thanks Robin, but I have to disagree. I use cheese for training all of the time and hot dogs are just like anything else, to be eaten on moderation. I have used them for treats in the past on a limited basis because they are so fattening.

  107. April 12, 2016 at 10:17 PM

    Also see if there is a Lost Dogs of (__your city________) on Facebook. There are many dog lovers (and cat lovers) who read these pages religiously and are eager to even actively search for your missing pet. I am the admin of Lost Cats of Fort Wayne and am amazed daily by the scope of help that can be tapped through pages like mine.

    • Mel
      April 13, 2016 at 6:16 AM

      Absolutely. We have a Lost Dogs Mn page on Facebook as well. Thank you for helping the cats in Fort Wayne. They need more pages fr lost cats.

  108. April 15, 2016 at 1:20 AM

    Hello! I wanted to let you know that I read this article on Wednesday and on Thursday (yesterday) the information from the article helped me to rescue a dog. I don’t think I could have helped this dog if I had not read your article. THANK YOU. Your article is saving lives!

    – Beth in Ontario, Canada

    • Mel
      April 15, 2016 at 1:13 PM

      Wow! Bethany, you totally made my day. That is exactly why I wrote that post. It is so gratifying to know that it is helping to save dogs. Thank you for sharing!

  109. April 16, 2016 at 4:46 PM

    Its totaly heart breaking… 2days past and i dont know where my dog is!!! i dont know if his been with the good people or not… cant sleep well… make me more stress!!! I miss him so much. He is my stress reliever.. he will not lost unles his been took by some one, his to friendly even if he just 1st saw the person every1 can pet him… hoping he will come home.. i make sure of the f nobody took him he willcome back..

  110. Dolores Rufenacht
    April 16, 2016 at 7:33 PM

    Dogs can have the save illnesses as humans, even Dementia and Alzheimers. This may be why the dog did not return home or recognize owner. It is important to walk your dog around your neighborhood daily so they know their way home,
    especially if their sense of smell is not good.

  111. steve
    May 11, 2016 at 11:54 AM

    ive lost my greyhound in colts neck new jersy it his 6 day of survival i miss him please look for him whos ever lives there

    • Mel
      May 13, 2016 at 7:34 AM

      I hope you find him Steven. Did you post fliers in the neighborhood? Call all the local shelters? Let your neighbors know? I have a tab on my blog for lost dog info and tips. I hope they help.

  112. Mary
    October 17, 2016 at 11:28 PM

    Thank you for your well-written, compassionate article. It gave me insights that will help me and Sadie.

    • Mel
      October 19, 2016 at 6:23 AM

      I hope so. That was my purpose for writing it. I wanted to share with others so they might not experience what I did when Cupcake was lost.

  113. December 1, 2016 at 1:15 AM

    Hi, I’m surprised to see your site.You did a great job on this site. I love all dogs. And Thank you for sharing these very useful information.

  114. matthew mcdonald
    January 6, 2017 at 2:26 AM

    my 4 year old American pit bull is a house dog. He only goes out to use the bathroom and play in the yard . We take him everywhere we go and He never runs away from our sides. We go camping all summer and He tides on the boat or stays at the campsite unclaimed and had never ran away. We had a family emergency and had to rush to the hospital. In the confusion the back door of our home was left ajar when we came home he was gone. How can we find him and what if anything will help . He has never ran away. We have another older female PIT BULL. and she was outside but didn’t leave the yard. He has been gone for almost seventy two hours. I have searched our entire town for three days now and nothing .?

    • Mel
      January 6, 2017 at 7:02 AM

      I am so sorry Matthew. How terrifying. I know how you feel. I have a whole page that lists way to find your dog. It’s one of the tabs at the top of the page. The first thing I would do is place bedding or clothing that smells like you outside so he can follow the scent. I have seen so many dogs found by doing this one thing. Then, flyers and notifying neighbors, shelters and vets in the area too. Good luck. I really, really hope you find him soon. You have my prayers.

  115. February 2, 2017 at 10:05 AM

    Running after my two bull mastiffs pups…at night…in Tucson, like they were having fun running from me….twenty minutes later….when I thought the next turn would be lost for me…I decided to drop to my knees…and moan…looking at the corner of my eye to see what effect….they stopped…thought about it…then came to me….I made the mistake of reaching for them as they came close…didn’t work…back to square one with more patience…it worked….wow!

    • Mel
      February 2, 2017 at 11:05 AM

      I am so glad they came back!!!

  1. January 21, 2013 at 9:34 AM
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  3. September 20, 2013 at 5:58 AM
  4. September 28, 2013 at 4:16 PM
  5. June 1, 2014 at 11:15 PM
  6. January 17, 2016 at 1:04 PM

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