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Lost Dogs and the Importance of Using Scent Articles

September 14, 2014 13 comments

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As I read about one more lost Sheltie last night, I could not help but be sad.

One more dog was running scared in a neighborhood she did not know.

One more owner was suffering the anguishing fears that every lost dog owner feels when their dog goes missing.

Fortunately, she was caught in one of our traps overnight, but it is not always this easy to catch a lost dog, especially a shy one.

When a dog is lost an owner must do everything they can to bring their dog back:

  • Pass out flyers far and wide so that every person in that area can keep an eye out for her and call you when he/she get a sighting.
  • Post signs on every possible high-traffic street area so people can be alerted to a lost dog while driving around the area.
  • Post on Craigslist so anyone who should;d happen to find your dog can reunite you both as quickly as possible.
  • Call all vet clinics, shelters and animal-related businesses to give them a heads up that there is a lost dog in the area.
  • Rally the troops – family, friends, rescue groups – and spread the word.
  • Set out clothing and familiar bedding that contains smells the dog is familiar with. Many dogs will return and lie down on them because it comforts them to have something that smells so familiar to them that nearby.

The last item is an important one because it has been successful in bringing back many a lost dog. I still remember the evening I received an urgent phone call from a friend who runs a rescue out east. She asked me if I would be willing to speak to one of her adopters, whose dog had gone missing in a heavily wooded area near her house. I said I would.

The owner told me that she suspected her dog was in the area, and may have even been watching her and her family from the woods, but she thought she might have been too scared to come out. I suggested several things to her (same as those listed above), but it was the dog bed she left outside on the front step that led to her safe return. The morning after she put her dog’s bed out on the front step, she found her lost dog sleeping on it. It was a happy reunion.

More recently, in September of thus year, a friend I had met on Instagram reported that her dog had gotten lost when she let her off leash for just a few minutes. She searched everywhere with no luck. She was quite worried and upset. I could totally relate. I left her a message telling her to take an article of clothing or a blanket or her dog’s bed out to the park and to leave it there and check it in the morning. Even though she thought it was a crazy idea and thought it would never work, she took her blanket out there anyways. She left it near she had last seen him. A couple of hours later, she went back out to the park, back to where she had left the blanket, and guess who was there? Her sweet, and very scared, lost dog. Boy was he happy to see his mom!

A familiar scent can be such a powerful piece in your search for your lost dog. Even in the middle of winter a scent article can be used to draw a lost dog home or into a trap.

A few years ago, we had a lost Sheltie who had been missing for several cold winter days. She was found after her owners left a scent article in the area she had last been sighted. It was a jacket her dad wore. The next morning, she was found, sleeping on the jacket.

It appears that someone is sleeping in Daisy's bed.

A dog’s bedding (and crate) have familiar scents that may draw a lost dog back home.

Just leaving a scent article is a good idea when you’ve lost a dog, but I’ve learned a few things about how to handle scent articles during a couple of nose work classes Daisy, Jasper and I took this summer. Keeping the scent article free of other smells when you need to transport it to another location is important. When we went to class, we were asked to bring all our scent articles (socks, shirt, etc.) in a sealed plastic baggie so as to avoid contamination by other smells.

It turns out that this is not all that new in the search and rescue world. They try to keep scent articles free of other people’s scents too. This prevents the dog from being confused by other smells of other individuals, including those scents of dog handler herself!

You can read more about scent articles and the importance of not contaminating them here, but the most important piece I hope you take from this is this …

If you lose your dog or cat, don’t forget to place their bedding, your bedding, your pajamas, the dog’s blanket, or your blanket, outside. It could be the thing that brings them home. 

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Favorite Video Friday – Lost Pet Reunions

August 30, 2012 9 comments

Update: Early this morning, Aug. 30th,  Cappy was sighted near home. Miracle of miracles, he is home safe now!

Tonight we got a bit of good news. Cappy was sighted not too far from home. A trap is on it’s way to his last known location tonight in hopes we can catch him. Please say some prayers that he is soon home where he will be safe.

I know that his parents, Kris and Doug, are very much hoping that this will be the case. I can imagine how worried and scared they are for him. Was it only 10 months ago I was experiencing the same worries and fears?

Maybe that’s why this video so resonated with me. It’s a wonderful message of hope for those who lose their pets, hoping one day they come home safely to them. The people who have been the recipients of Granite State Dog Recovery’s good efforts are indeed lucky people. God bless them and those who are helping to find Cappy. Thank you Minnesota Sheltie Rescue, Lost Shelties MN and LostDogs-MN for all your hard work to help bring lost dogs home.

You can see more videos by Granite State Dog Recovery, and the work they do, on their YouTube channel, helpfindhope1.

Have a wonderful Friday everyone.

Come home Cappy. Come home.

There but for the grace of…

January 22, 2012 9 comments

This past week Minnesota Sheltie Rescue alerted us to another missing dog in my neck of the woods. This dog was also shy and a foster dog, but with another local rescue group, RAGOM – Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota. I couldn’t help but be worried about him. Unlike Lady, Kekoa didn’t appear to have as thick a coat as her and temperatures this week have been below zero.

I had planned to help hand out flyers today, but yesterday Kekoa was found. Unfortunately, he was not found in the way any of us had hoped. Kekoa’s story does not have such a happy ending. His body was discovered yesterday. He had been hit by a car after getting through the fencing along a highway.

I can’t help but feel deeply saddened by this outcome. I felt so connected to Kekoa’s story. He got away from his foster mom too.

What Lady and I and her rescue volunteers went through is still so fresh in my mind. My memories of how she was found and the joy I felt knowing I no longer had to worry where she was and whether was she in danger. I just wasn’t prepared for an outcome that didn’t end have another happy reunion ending with tears of joy.

Why did Lady come home safely and not Kekoa? I mean she was lost on one side of a very busy highway and was found on the other side of it. Certainly she had to have crossed over it somehow.

When we were out searching for her those twelve long days, I noticed a huge gap in the fencing right along a new bridge that had just been completed this past summer. The bridge crosses over the same highway Lady had to cross and ends fairly close to where she was eventually found. So if she did cross there, why did she not run through the gap in the fence? Why did she not head down the embankment and onto the highway? I can’t help but wonder why Kekoa and not her?

I often hear people say “There but for the grace of God go I,” and I admit that last night I thought that very thing for one brief moment – that it was God’s grace that brought Lady through it all. But then where does that leave Kekoa and the people who searched so diligently for him? Surely he had God’s grace looking upon him too? I know there were prayers said for him, just like they were for Lady. So what made his outcome so different?

I don’t suppose anyone will ever really know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that right now I feel even more thankful tonight as I reflect on the pain and sorrow that Kekoa’s family and caretakers are feeling right now. They did all the same things that were done to help find Lady, and yet, they do not have the happy ending they and Kekoa so deserved. I am so deeply sorry for their loss. Rest in peace dear Kekoa.

Little Lady Lost – A sense of peace

November 29, 2011 21 comments

Looking back on these past 11 days I can honestly say that I feel a distinct sense of before and after. There was my life before Lady was lost and then there is my life after.

That one night, Friday night, November 18th, seems sort of like a dream now (or maybe a nigtmare), but it also feels like a pivotal moment in my life. My life before I lost Lady was a routine. I followed the same schedule, did the same things, but it was fun. I loved spending time with my dogs – taking them for walks, working on obedience training, cuddling with them on the couch, etc. My life after has been so very different. It’s been chaotic and crazy and stressful and emotional. Every day has been filled with the search for Lady – handing out fliers, putting up signs, setting up and checking live traps, searching through woods and tall grass, moving live traps, driving around hoping to see her, racing to the location of the latest sighting… my life has been consumed with the never ending search for her.

That’s why going to work yesterday, the first time since Lady disappeared, was such a strange experience. For eleven days, my life has been consumed with the search for Lady and now here I was going off to work with her still missing. As I said in my previous post, part of me was relieved to get back to work. I craved the routine that would take me away from continuously worrying and wondering about her. Being busy is sometimes the best medicine to grief and worry. It’s an escape. But yesterday there was also a part of me that had a hard time letting go of the search. All day I wondered if there were any sightings or if the fliers were still being distributed (they were) or if she had had been caught in a live trap (sadly, she was not). Then yesterday afternoon, I felt a sense of peace overcome me and I just let it all go. I had the sense that everything would be okay. I don’t know why. I don’t even know what what it means, if it means anything at all, but it has erased all of the tension and worry and fear that I have felt every day since Lady disappeared. Maybe I’m truly letting go for the first time and just letting whatever is meant to be unfold as it is designed to do. Either way, I go to work today knowing that Lady is out there somewhere and that she is okay. We may not find her today or tomorrow, but we will find her. It’s just a matter of time.

Search update: There were no sightings of Lady yesterday. The live traps were empty as well. If she continues to stick to the general pattern she seems to have established for herself, I would expect a sighting today. But, I won’t hold onto that as a given. We just don’t know when she will appear again, or where. More wonderful people handed out fliers yesterday and new ones were made up (thank you Julie). I continue to watch for her and to hand out fliers when I can. Come home Lady.

You can read more about the search for Lady and how she was found in the posts listed below.

Post #1: The search for Lady, my foster dog. How you can help.

Post #2:Foster Dog Lady – Still Missing

Post #3: Little Lady Lost – The Latest

Post #4: Thanksgiving Gratitude Despite Little Lady Still Being Lost

Post #5: Little Lady Lost – Chasing the Wrong Things

Post #6: A Sunbeam of Hope? The Latest on Little Lady Lost

Post #7: Little Lady Lost – The Saturday Update

Post #8: Little Lady Lost – Latest Update & Do’s and Don’ts

Post #9 (This Post): Little Lady Lost – A sense of peace

Post #10: Little Lady Lost – HOME AT LAST!

Post #11: Little Lady Lost and How She Made It Home Again

Little Lady Lost – Latest Update & Do’s and Don’ts

November 28, 2011 24 comments

I found it hard to write much of anything in the way of updates earlier this Sunday night. It’s been a very exhausting weekend.

As always, there have been a lot of ups and downs in the search for Lady. Unlike Saturday, there have been no sightings today, but I think now that this is not such a bad thing. It means Lady is hunkering down and staying quiet… and staying away from highways.

I’m beginning to see a pattern in her behavior. Every time she gets spooked she hunkers down for a day or two before coming out once again to search for food. The problem is how to prevent her from being spooked. There are cars and loud noises and well-meaning people for her to contend with each time she leaves the safety of her hiding spot. While many dogs might run to a stranger for food or attention, a fearful dog, like Lady, will avoid people and places that scare them – AT ALL COSTS. People approaching her, while well-intentioned I am sure, is leading her further and further away from me and deeper and deeper into hiding. It is frustrating.

And now I must go back to work, leaving the search for Lady to my morning and evening hours and to those who have the time to search. To be honest, part of me is relieved. I crave the every day normalcy of every day life. Routine is so much less stressful than spending every waking hour thinking about and searching for Lady. It also means that I feel some guilt at not being within easy reach if there is another sighting. However, what I do know now is that a sighting is unlikely to lead to a capture. Lady is too skittish now, too easily spooked. What I know now is that we need more sightings. Sightings that establish a pattern of behavior. A pattern of behavior can tell us so much about where she is moving, what is spooking her, what draws her out of hiding, and how we can best utilize this information to capture her.

If we can keep focused on handing out fliers and asking people to report their sightings of Lady, we will have a much better chance of bringing her home. But, this only works if she is not spooked – if people don’t go out chasing her down in the woods or calling out to her in areas where she was last sighted. I cannot stress this enough, chasing her down is the worst thing that anyone can do now. I know it seems so antithetical to what most people know about dogs, but everything most people know about dogs must be thrown out the window when it comes to fearful dogs. They do not act like most dogs.

If I could make a wishlist of Do’s and Don’ts for people in the search area, it would be as follows:

DO’s

DO watch for Lady and report any sightings of her.
DO program Minnesota Sheltie Rescue’s phone number, 612-616-7477, into your phone so you can report your sighting immediately.
DO take a picture of her if you have the time or the ability to do so.
DO continue to hand out fliers and share Lady’s story with your friends and family. The more eyes and ears we have out there the better.
DO drive the areas, if you have the time, and call in any sightings you may have.
DO report any behavior patterns that you notice – Examples: she comes through your yard at the same time every day, she sleeps in this location every day, etc.
DO consider leaving your fence gate open for Lady to enter. That way if she does enter your yard, you can shut it behind her, allowing us a much better chance of catching her.

DON’Ts

DON’T approach Lady or chase her down. If you do, you will likely ruin any chance we have of catching her in the future or cause her to run out into busy traffic and get hit by a car.
DON’T call out to Lady and try to get her to come to you (she won’t). A fearful dog is not a typical dog. Even the people Lady knows quite well cannot approach her without her pulling back in fear. You are a complete stranger to her. She is not going to stick around long enough to let you approach.
DON’T visit or share the locations of any live traps. We have found that the more people that know where they are, the more activity we have with people checking them on a constant basis, and that diminishes the chance that Lady will ever come near it.
DON’T go searching the woods and fields, or the Minnesota River valley, for Lady. Not only will this cause Lady to go further and further into wooded areas or into the river valley, it also puts her in greater danger from coyotes.

I welcome any other do’s and don’ts from those who have searched for a fearful missing dog before or who have led similar searches. What would you add to this list?

You can read more about fearful dogs at my friend Debbie’s website Fearfuldogs.com or on her blog, Fearfuldogs’s blog.com.

Over the past 10 days I have met some amazing people. People who have been there every single day to hand out fliers, post signs, drive around and watch for Lady, spread the word by mouth and to just sit and watch for her. My many, many thanks to Estelle, Meaghan, Karen M, Jeff P, Karen C-H, Barb, Nancy and Dennis, Emily, Angela, Vicki, Stephen, Dena, Cindy, Mickey and Brian, Dan, Karen, Jeff and Francine, Pamela D and Wendy. for your help this weekend.

Videos of Lady:

You can read more about the search for Lady and how she was found in the posts listed below.

Post #1: The search for Lady, my foster dog. How you can help.

Post #2:Foster Dog Lady – Still Missing

Post #3: Little Lady Lost – The Latest

Post #4: Thanksgiving Gratitude Despite Little Lady Still Being Lost

Post #5: Little Lady Lost – Chasing the Wrong Things

Post #6: A Sunbeam of Hope? The Latest on Little Lady Lost

Post #7: Little Lady Lost – The Saturday Update

Post #8 (This Post): Little Lady Lost – Latest Update & Do’s and Don’ts

Post #9: Little Lady Lost – A sense of peace

Post #10: Little Lady Lost – HOME AT LAST!

Post #11: Little Lady Lost and How She Made It Home Again

Little Lady Lost – The Saturday Update

November 26, 2011 22 comments

Little Lady

Sorry for the abbreviated post for today, but we had three sightings of our little Lady on Saturday, and they were all in the same area!

I have been busy coordinating a stakeout along the route she was sighted today. If she will come to me, I will be bringing her home. If not, we will use a live trap once we have a better idea of her route. We are asking people who are not part of the stakeout crew to stay away for now. As tempting as it might be to drive by and look for her, the chances you will see her are pretty slim. She’s a smart little cookie and very good at hiding. On top of that, more traffic in that area could very well result in her being hit by a car. I want to avoid that if at all possible.

My biggest concern right now is that someone will call out to her and spook her causing her to go further into hiding – one of the dangers of having a fearful dog, they don’t act like normal dogs.

My thanks to the crew that will be out tomorrow watching for her and/or handing out fliers. It was because of the fliers we handed out on Saturday that we had so many sightings today. Thank you to everyone who came to help!!!!

I will post an update whatever the result. If you pray, please pray for Lady’s safe return and if you believe in sending good thoughts out into the universe I sure could use them now. Thank you!

You can read more about the search for Lady and how she was found in the posts listed below.
Post #1: The search for Lady, my foster dog. How you can help.

Post #2:Foster Dog Lady – Still Missing

Post #3: Little Lady Lost – The Latest

Post #4: Thanksgiving Gratitude Despite Little Lady Still Being Lost

Post #5: Little Lady Lost – Chasing the Wrong Things

Post #6: A Sunbeam of Hope? The Latest on Little Lady Lost

Post #7 (This Post): Little Lady Lost – The Saturday Update

Post #8: Little Lady Lost – Latest Update & Do’s and Don’ts

Post #9: Little Lady Lost – A sense of peace

Post #10: Little Lady Lost – HOME AT LAST!

Post #11: Little Lady Lost and How She Made It Home Again

A Sunbeam of Hope? The Latest on Little Lady Lost

November 25, 2011 22 comments

Latest Update 5:15 PM CST, Saturday): (A sunbeam of hope indeed!) Today there were 3 sightings of Lady! All occurred along Highway 13 or nearby. The first was a sighting of her crossing Highway 13 over to the Minnesota River Valley area. We all raced down there and spent a lot of time walking along the highway and along the railroad tracks, but no luck. However, since she was sighted in the area, we decided to pass out fliers in the neighborhoods that run alongside Highway 13. Lucky for us! The second sighting was by a guy who saw her standing in his driveway. He happened to see the flier just afterwards and called us right away. This sighting was after the first one.
The third sighting also came as a result of our fliers. The man saw her sleeping in a railroad culvert on the Minnesota River side of Highway 13. Unfortunately, he called out to her and she got spooked and ran. He did not know which direction, but it is encouraging to know that she is still in the area.

Unfortunately, a fearful dog is not like your typical human-loving dog. They fear humans. I know it is people’s natural inclination to call out to a dog when they see one most and along, but sometimes staying silent is better. I’m hoping we will see another sighting soon and can trap her.
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I happened to see this story while reading the news online tonight and shared it on my Facebook page. It’s a wonderful post written by ABC News’ producer Kimberly Launier about an interview with the Rollin’s family and the loss of their son, Justin, who was killed in Iraq, and their mission to bring home the puppy (Hero) he cared for while in Iraq. What happened during the course of the interview was amazing to the reporter, and to me. Such a beautiful moment.

A friend saw my post on Facebook and reminded me that I had captured a similar moment with Lady while at the dog park, one of her favorite places. I thought I would share it again with all of you. It was a rare moment caught completely by accident on my cell phone camera. Perhaps there is a reason I saw the Rollin’s story, perhaps not, but it certainly gives me hope. How about you?

You can see more about Hero’s story here. It’s a story that was aired on Animal Planet back on November 9th.

Update on Little Lady Lost: No sightings again today, but I am not giving up hope. A week is not unusual for a missing dog like Lady. She’s smart, so she is likely waiting until after dark to venture out. Dawn (her other foster mom) and I spent the day exploring the area we last sighted her on foot. It’s rough terrain and full of bramble and burrs and difficult to navigate. We both ended up with burrs in our hair. I know it sounds silly, but I never expected that burrs could stick to human hair just as well as dog fur. I can only imagine what Lady looks like by now.

We were later joined by another volunteer and spent some time discussing locations of the traps and options for expanding our search. Another volunteer, Jeff, was out earlier passing out fliers in an area south of Wescott, an area we had not covered until today. He also handed out fliers at Petsmart and Byerly’s and Walmart. Thank you Jeff! I don’t know what I would do without you and Julie out there helping me by taking on the least glamorous, but most important task of all… getting the word out.

Dan, another volunteer, was out with his binoculars, scanning the area in hopes of seeing Lady. And Dena, was out driving the area and walking around, in hopes of seeing Lady as well. If Lady is in this area she is hiding really, really well. No surprise really. Shelties are very smart dogs and able to fend for themselves for long periods of time if they need to do so.

My biggest concern right now is fliers. I know it’s not glamorous, especially in inclement weather, but as I have been told by Minnesota Sheltie Rescue time and again, almost all of the Shelties they captured and brought back home were due to the fliers and signs they put out. The more people that know the greater the chance Lady will be seen when she does come out of hiding. Without the fliers and the contact numbers on them, we won’t get that call. The one that will bring Lady home. So if any of you have an hour to spare and want to help I would love to get more fliers out in the areas that we have not covered yet. This map shows all the areas we have covered in pink. As you can see, we have covered a lot of territory around where Lady was seen last, but if Lady is on the move then we need to cover those areas further out – north of Yankee Doodle, South of Diffley and Rosemount. I did most of mine in my car because it was quicker and allowed e to cover a lot of ground. If you have the time, I would welcome your help. I’ll bring the fliers to Wescott Library (on Wescott Road just to the east of Pilot Knob Road) at noon tomorrow and you can pick up form there or you can tweet me with a time you would like to pick them up. My thanks to anyone and everyone who can help!

You can read more about the search for Lady and how she was found in the posts listed below.

Post #1: The search for Lady, my foster dog. How you can help.

Post #2:Foster Dog Lady – Still Missing

Post #3: Little Lady Lost – The Latest

Post #4: Thanksgiving Gratitude Despite Little Lady Still Being Lost

Post #5: Little Lady Lost – Chasing the Wrong Things

Post #6 (This Post): A Sunbeam of Hope? The Latest on Little Lady Lost

Post #7: Little Lady Lost – The Saturday Update

Post #8: Little Lady Lost – Latest Update & Do’s and Don’ts

Post #9: Little Lady Lost – A sense of peace

Post #10: Little Lady Lost – HOME AT LAST!

Post #11: Little Lady Lost and How She Made It Home Again

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