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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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Sunny – A dog lost for 96 days in a Minnesota winter and now home

March 31, 2013 16 comments

IMG_0197For those of you who follow me on my Facebook page or follow the Lost Shelties MN page, you already know the good news. Sunny, the Sheltie lost in Maple Grove, Minnesota, is now safely home in Ohio. After 96 days and 23 miles, he was reunited with his dad on Friday evening. It was a very special moment and one I am sure Sunny’s dad and family won’t forget.

For those of you who don’t know the story, I think you will find this worth reading. It is a good example of how important it is to get the word out… AND just how to do it.

Before I share Sunny’s story from beginning to end (My thanks to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN and Mary McTie for letting me share this!), I would like to thank all of the people who helped in his successful return. I would love to name each and every one of you here, but there were so many of you that I am afraid I would forget someone!

Instead, let me just share some of the things you did to bring Sunny home:

  • Offered support to Sunny’s family and coordinated the handing out of flyers (including updating the flyer map on numerous occasions so we knew where to go next).
  • Updated the missing dog flyers so the latest information could be handed out in neighborhoods and posted in store windows.
  • Placed, checked and moved traps in the frigid cold and deep snow – more times than we even know. (Trust me when I say this is hard work.)
  • Managed the incoming calls with sightings of Sunny and handled inquiries from the general public (both on Facebook and over the phone).
  • Made calls to local shelters, police departments and city managers in cities where Sunny was sighted.
  • Monitored all the places that help lost dogs – AHS website, Lost Dogs – MN, Craigslist, in case Sunny was brought in as a stray.
  • Called radio stations to ask them to ask the public to keep an eye out for Sunny.
  • Handed out flyers over and over and over again – and then did it once again (many times in frigid cold).
  • Contacted local newspapers and online news media outlets to alert them to Sunny’s story and the search for him.
  • Placed ads in newspapers and posted info on Craigslist.
  • Made signs to be placed in areas he was sighted.
  • Kept all of the volunteers motivated week after week after week (you know who you are!).
  • Shared Sunny’s picture and story on Facebook and asked friends to share.
  • Prayed, sent good thoughts and hoped that Sunny would be reunited with his family.
  • Called and reported each and every sighting, no matter when that sighting occurred.

A very special thanks to Patti and her husband for reporting that one final set of sightings that brought Sunny home and to Cindy from Lost Shelties MN who handled so much more than we know with absolute grace and charm.

So, without further ado, here is Sunny’s story as it was shared on the Lost Shelties MN Facebook page in Sunday. It still brings tears to my eyes.

Hi Everyone…This is long…I apologize…but it’s been a long journey for Sunny, his family and the rest of us. This is a story worth telling. Thank you all for EVERYTHING you have done to help this precious boy. A lot of hard work by all…but so very rewarding. Grab some coffee and enjoy. And please share this also, as I’m sure through the 96 days that Sunny was gone, there were a lot of people who have seen your likes & shares. Thank you…from the bottom of my heart.

(First, how Sunny was finally caught.) On March 20th, Sunny’s owner called to tell us he got a call from a lady who had seen Sunny. Her name is Patti and she lives in Vadnais Heights. Patti feeds stray cats and she and her husband have a live feed video camera near the bowls. They started to see a Sheltie come around about 11pm, he had been eating at the bowls at least eight times in the last week and a half. Patti checked Craigslist and was sure that dog was Sunny. We were cautiously optimistic. Almost 23 miles (via Interstate 694) from where Sunny went missing on Christmas Eve. If this was Sunny…he was heading for Ohio!

Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) volunteers brought a live trap over that night. Patti had a huge bowl of cut up hot dogs, another big bowl of chicken, along with cat kibble and a heated bowl for milk. We set up the trap with the chicken and hot dogs inside. We left the kibble and milk outside – usually we don’t want to leave food outside the trap but a big tomcat was watching the whole time and we figured we would probably catch him multiple times if we didn’t leave something out for him.

The first night, Patti’s husband stayed up til 2 a.m. watching the video…no dog! We set up a motion-activated camera. We thought if we at least saw him come around again, then we would put the word out for flyers in the area. But the dog stopped coming by (or at least he did not appear on the love camera or when anyone was watching the live feed). More days passed and no dog. We started thinking it must have been a neighbor dog, who was sometimes let out to stroll late at night. It started to seem like nothing was going to happen here.

March 28th – Patti called to say they caught a raccoon in the trap! Not good, but there’s always the thought that you have to catch something else before you catch the dog.

6:30 a.m. on March 29th – Patti calls to say they have the dog in the trap! What dog…must be a neighbor dog…some other dog that needs our help? Could it possibly be Sunny? Patti and her husband knew not to open the trap but they offered to bring it inside their garage until our volunteer Pat (another MNSR volunteer) could get there.

Pat and her granddaughter arrived, along with Sunny’s owners’ in-laws. The markings looked right, the size looked right, but there was that tiny bit of doubt that it was another Sheltie that looked a lot like Sunny. The dog sort of wagged his tail at the father-in-law. He was matted and full of burrs, but otherwise didn’t look too bad. They sent pictures to Sunny’s owner in Ohio, and he was on the road by mid-morning.

Sunny went to Karen’s for the day. Pat’s granddaughter spent some time picking burrs out of his coat and he was amazingly relaxed. He got a good nap for the rest of the morning.

At noon on Friday, March 29th, Sunny went to MNSR’s vet, he was checked out and overall opinion was that he is in pretty good shape (blood work results will take a day or two), not thin but obviously he was tired.

Sunny had to meet some more MNSR volunteers later in the afternoon, and he was quite calm for that too. He didn’t approach us, but he didn’t hide or cower. Maybe still somewhat in shock and maybe relief that he didn’t have to run anymore.

Friday evening about 7:00 p.m., Sunny’s owner, Dick, arrives at Karen’s. Sunny looked at him, walked over and sniffed him, and then his tail started to wag a little. He never left Dick after that. Dick sat on the step and talked and Sunny looked at him and listened. Dick would say familiar words and his ears would perk up. He relaxed and laid down at his feet for a while.  We could tell that all was well in Sunny’s world again.

Sunny left Karen’s equipped with a Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR collar), a harness and was double leashed! After all that, Dick carried him out to the car anyway. Sunny and Dick are driving back to Ohio Saturday morning and should be back home by evening. (Update: Sunny is now home and his overall blood work was good.)

Thank you to everyone who helped in this 96 day search to get Sunny back home. The flyers, the Craigslist ads, the Maple Grove Patch and the City of Brooklyn Park, the sharing on Facebook, twitter and other social media. Thank you to Patti and her husband for feeding such good food to stray cats and a lost Sheltie from Ohio.

Sunny – you captured our hearts. Safe travels home, Sunny and Dick!

*    *    *    *    *    *

Chronology of the search for Sunny

December 24 – Sunny, a Sheltie visiting with his family from Ohio, goes missing.

December 26th – Volunteers hit the streets of Maple Grove flyering the neighborhoods.

January 5th – Sunny sighting south of 85th, by Fleet Farm. Other Sunny sightings. (Major snowstorm January 4th.)

January 13th – Sunny sighting on the west side of the Coon Rapids Dam. Volunteers look on both sides of the dam, the area is heavily flyered.

January 15th – Three Rivers Park (Coon Rapids) police report seeing Sunny near West River Road and chase him into the park. MNSR live traps are set, something is eating the food out of the traps, but nothing is ever caught.

Mid- January – We get a couple reports of a Sheltie near highway 610 and also in Coon Rapids. (Temps the week of January 21st ranged from -30 to -20 degrees with -30 to -40 degree windchill.)

January 26th – A Sheltie is reported in Ham Lake near Constance and Urbank. Volunteers place signs in the area. The traps at the dam are still being checked.

Early February – We start to get multiple sightings in Blaine. Volunteers flyer the Blaine neighborhoods. People see us posting signs and tell us they got the flyer and are watching.

February 13th – Sighting back in Brooklyn Park at 104th and Douglas Drive. Volunteers are back distributing flyers in that neighborhood.

February 14th – 16th – Multiple reports of a Sheltie near Bunker Hills Golf Course. Volunteers flyer a large area in Blaine and Coon Rapids.

February 18th – A woman in Blaine catches the Sheltie in a garage. He is extremely underweight, tired and scared. He’s not Sunny, but he definitely needed us.

February 24th – A man calls to say he saw a flyer but that he saw the dog laying on the side of northbound highway 169. It was at least 2 weeks after he had the sighting. Karen from MNSR drives and walks the area, looking for the dog. Mary goes out March 2 to take one more look before the next big snowstorm. No sign of a dog.

March 11 – Another report of a sighting at 93rd and Noble in Brooklyn Park. Volunteers flyer the area.

March 19th – A sighting in Andover. A live trap is set in the backyard. (Major snowstorm March 18th.)

March 20th – A sighting in Vadnais Heights. A live trap is set next to the house.

March 27th – A report about a dead animal in Blaine. Started thinking the Vadnais Heights dog wasn’t Sunny.

March 28th – A racoon is caught in the Vadnais Heights trap.

March 29th – A dog is in the Vadnais Heights trap. A happy ending to a 96 day search for a lost Sheltie from Ohio.

Two more updates: Rumor has it that Sunny’s story may be featured on the John Williams radio show on WCCO on Monday between 3-6 p.m. and he is once again featured on the Maple Grove Patch (the first time was when he was still missing).

Sunny’s Path:

Cindy from Lost Shelties MN says hello to Sunny

Cindy from Lost Shelties MN says hello to Sunny

Sunny smiles at dad. He is clearly very happy to see him.

Sunny smiles at dad. He is clearly very happy to see him.

Sunny and Dad before the head home.

Sunny and Dad before the head home.

The Search for Cappy – Lost Sheltie in Lake Elmo, MN

August 29, 2012 21 comments

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

I had another post planned for today, but a more urgent matter came along this Wednesday night.

We have another LOST SHELTIE from Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. His name is CAPPY and he went missing Wednesday (August 29th) night. He is a very small (only 12 lbs.) and shy little guy and is in need of our help. Cappy went missing in Lake Elmo, Minnesota near Manning Trail and County 15 (Manning) in Lake Elmo, which is in Washington County.

Please share, especially if you know someone in Minnesota. Share with them and ask them to share as well. You can keep updated on the search for Cappy on Minnesota Sheltie Rescue’s Facebook page or on Lost Shelties of MN.

If you tweet, please retweet: Lost #Sheltie in #LakeElmo #Minnesota. Name: Cappy. Blue merle. Afraid of people. Tweet @melzpetpals if you see him. bit.ly/PPgbMp

If you are on Facebook, please ask your friends to share with their Minnesota friends a picture of Cappy or refer them to this blog post so they can see his picture.

If you go out to help hand out flyers or look for Cappy, please DO NOT CHASE. SIT DOWN and CALL one of the numbers listed below. Remember, Shelties are skittish dogs and will go into survival mode quickly. This means they will not approach a stranger and may not even approach their owner at first. Chasing or calling to them will not bring them to you. If you see Cappy, please call the numbers listed.

Here is the most current information we have on Cappy:

Date Lost: 08-29-2012
Dog’s Name: Cappy
Breed of Dog: Sheltie
Gender: Male
…Neutered / Spayed: Neutered
City where lost: Lake Elmo
Closest Intersection: Manning Trail and County 15 (Manning)
Zip Code: 55042
County: Washington
Color or Markings: Blue merle with a white and tan face
Dog’s Age: 8
Dog’s Weight: 12 lbs.
Dog’s Demeanor: Shy/Timid
Dog was: Wearing tags, Wearing Collar
Any information on how lost, description etc. Cappy is a rescue sheltie we’ve had for about 8 months. He was restless today and shot out the front door before we could block him — he ran down our cul de sac and we quickly lost sight of him.
Contact’s Name: Kris Killian
If seen, sit down and call 651-777-3428 or 612-804-9204 with exact location, direction the dog headed and description of dog.

Wednesday Winner: SarahBeth Photography

May 13, 2010 2 comments

In addition to being a lover of animals I happen to have a passion for photography. There are a few photographers whose work I absolutely love!

One of them is SaraBeth Photography in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sarah Ernhart is simply amazing. She gets shots of people’s pets that make you ask, “How’d she do that?” I would love to know!

I highly recommend you check out her many photos here. By the way, that cute little guy on the right? That’s Ozy, my Boston Terrier client. Isn’t he adorable? She caught his personality perfectly! Click on the html link below him and take a look at the amazing pics.

And, check out her blog – one of the most touching ones I have ever read is here.

If you are Ohhhing and Ahhhhing after looking at her photos, then you know why she just HAD to be this week’s Wednesday Winner.

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