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Posts Tagged ‘searching for a lost dog.’

Do you know what to do if your pet goes missing?

January 21, 2013 24 comments

IMG_6554Having a lost dog can be a scary thing for any pet owner. Knowing what to do as soon as they go missing is so very important. It can make all the difference in getting your dog back safely to you.

However, it’s not just the dog owner who needs to know what to do when a dog goes missing. Those who want to help in the search need to know what to do as well. Often the most well-meaning dog searcher can hinder a search by what they do and say. Some have even caused a dog to go missing longer because they were trying to “help” and inadvertently ended up hurting the search.

I thought I would put together a list DO’s and DON’Ts for both owners and those who want to help them. Please feel free to share.

Owner of a Lost Dog

DO

  • Tell everyone you know that your dog is missing. Call all local shelters, animal control facilities, vet clinics and local police to let them know.
  • Make a flyer with the most pertinent information – dog’s picture, coloring and weight, where lost, contact information (i.e., phone number). If you have a shy dog, make sure you also add DO NOT CHASE to the flyer.
  • Place flyers at all local vet clinics, animal shelters, stores and local businesses. Also, start canvasing the area your dog was lost and handing the flyers out to people walking their dogs.
  • Leave a flyer in each residence’s newspaper box (It is illegal to place in mailboxes.) or inside their screen door.
  • Place an ad on Craigslist.
  • Ask for help from friends and family. Ask them to help spread the word or pass out flyers.
  • Share information on Facebook and Twitter – If you have a Lost Dogs Facebook group for your state, share there. There are quite a few that have been created, including ones in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Texas, Minnesota and Illinois.
  • Create signs that you can place in strategic locations so drivers can see them as they drive past. Keep the sign simple (e.g., Lost Sheltie and a phone number) so people can read it quickly.
  • Pay attention to where your dog is sighted. Generally, a dog will establish a pattern of places they visit or hang out. Once you have a pattern, set up feeding stations so he/she stays in the area. When you are certain that they have gotten used to feeding at these stations, set up a trap or traps at those locations and move the food inside the trap.
  • Consider utilizing one of the many services out there to help spread the word – like FindToto.com, etc.
  • Send positive thoughts to your dog. Tell them to go into the trap or to seek out a person for help. It may seem silly, but it does work.
  • Place an article of your clothing or your dog’s bedding in a crate or trap near the location they were lost so they are drawn in by the scent. If your dog went missing from your home, place it in your backyard or in an area they could enter it.
  • Carry smelly treats with you that you can toss to your dog if sighted. Make sure you sit down facing away from your dog or sideways to them and sit quietly with your head down. Don’t speak right away. Just toss the treats towards your dog. (Cupcake was lost for 12 days and by the time I found her she was in survival mode. She didn’t recognize me by sight or sound. It was only when I sat down and allowed her to safely approach me that she was able to smell me. That is when she recognized me.)

DON’T

  • Give up hope. Dogs and cats are much more resilient than we think. They can and do find food and shelter. Princessa’s Story is good example of how dogs can survive the cold of winter.
  • Share trap locations with more than a couple of people you trust. The more people who know about the trap locations, the more the risk you will have too many people monitoring the traps and this could scare your dog away. Make a plan for who will know the trap locations and who will check them and when.
  • Drive around assuming you will see your lost dog somewhere. Utilize flyers and get more eyes looking for your dog immediately.

Lost Dog Searchers

DO

  • Offer to hand out flyers and spread the word. (It was a stranger who offered to hand out flyers that led to me getting Cupcake back. Flyers really do work.)
  • Offer encouragement and hope to the owner of the lost pet. One of the reasons a lost pet is not found is because the owner gives up hope. Help to keep that hope going.
  • Share the lost dog’s story and information on Facebook and Twitter. Most people don’t share because they assume that people don’t live in the area and don’t care, but this is not the case. (When my Cupcake was missing people shared across the globe. One of the people to see her story lived in New York. His parents just happened to live a few blocks from me. They became instrumental in my search for Cupcake and her eventual capture.  People know people who live near where the dog was lost. Never assume they don’t. It can make all the difference.)
  • Call in sightings to the owner ASAP.
  • If you see the lost dog, sit down facing away from them or sideways to them and bow your head and toss tasty treats their way. Don’t talk to them, but do call the owner immediately. The objective is to keep them there until the owner can come to get them.
  • Send positive thoughts to the missing dog and encourage them to enter the trap or seek help from a human. Negative thoughts do not help the dog or owner.

DON’T

  • Add to a lost pet owner’s fears by talking about the chance their dog could be killed by coyotes or cars or cold weather. They already know this and your sharing this information is not helpful.
  • Try to catch the lost dog yourself. Most dogs go into survival mode and will run away from all people, including their owner, because they are afraid. I wrote about this a couple of months ago. Please read it – Why your lost dog may not run back to you.
  • Chase the lost dog. You only risk scaring them further away from the location. We want them to STAY in the area.
  • Ask the owner to call you when the dog is found. (I had many a well-meaning person contact me to find out if Cupcake had been found. When informed she had not, most of them asked that I call them back after she was found. I am sorry, but the last thing on a lost pet owner’s mind is keeping you informed on the status of the missing dog. They are too busy looking for their lost dog.)
  • Assume that the owner hasn’t tried everything to get their lost dog back or make derogatory remarks about how they lost their dog. Under the right circumstances, every single one of us could face this situation with our own dogs. To assume your dog could never get lost goes against all the statistics that say otherwise.
  • Assume that you will be the one to find the lost dog. Offer to help where you can, but  realize that what really finds lost dogs is not someone chasing the dog down. What works is getting flyers and signs out there so more eyes are watching for the dog and an call the owner as soon as there is a sighting.
  • Go looking for the traps after they have been placed. The owner’s scent should be the one that is near the trap not yours. You could inadvertently scare a dog away from the trap by hanging out near it or traipsing around in the area surrounding it and end up leaving your scent behind instead of the owner’s.

Losing a dog is such a heartbreaking and terrifying experience, but knowing what to do can make all the difference. Those who help them need to know what to do too. I hope this helps.

Lost Dogs trap locations

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Little Lady Lost and How She Made It Home Again

December 2, 2011 61 comments

Lost dog flier

I apologize up front for the length of this post, but What happened Wednesday night was nothing short of amazing. It was a miracle. And, I don’t ever want to forget it, especially knowing what happened on Monday.

Monday had been my first day back to work since Lady had disappeared. It was a strange feeling to be back. I had a hard time getting back into the groove, but by mid-afternoon I was focused and getting work done. That’s when it happened. I got this absolutely sick feeling in my stomach. I don’t know how to explain it except to say it was as if I had just received the very worst news and was doubled over with emotional pain. I almost started to cry and was feeling panicky. It was this awful feeling deep down in the pit of my stomach. I called Estelle from Minnesota Sheltie Rescue immediately and asked her if everything was okay because I felt something bad had happened. She reassured that all was well, but I couldn’t shake the feeling.

I decided to go for a walk to try and calm myself down. Suddenly, as I stood there, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. It infused my whole being. And then, I heard the words “Everything is going to be okay.” At the time I didn’t know what it meant, but for the first time in many days, I felt totally at peace. In my mind’s eye, I saw an image of Lady. She was barking and wagging her tail excitedly like she does when she knows we are going on a walk, or to the dog park. She seemed so happy. I thought to myself, “She’s gone. Lady is gone.” I was so certain that the sick feeling I had felt was the moment she had died, and yet, the image of her wagging her tail and happily barking made me less sad that I thought I would be. I heard the words, “I’m free! I’m free!” and I thought “Okay. She’s gone, but she’s not sad about it. How can I be sad if she’s not?” It was a very strange experience. One I cannot explain. I returned to work that day totally at peace. Sad, but comforted by the fact that Lady had seemed so happy. (I later learned that I was not the only one who had experienced that sick feeling at the same time. Perhaps Lady had been in danger and escaped it? I guess I’ll never know.)

That’s why I was surprised (and very much relieved) when we had two sightings the very next morning as I was on my way to work. I was so excited. She was less than a mile from home! I don’t know how I knew it then, but somehow I knew it was just a matter of time before she would be home.

Lady resting at home with her toy

On Wednesday I went to work knowing the Lady was alive. I tried to stay focused on work until I received a call around 2:30 PM. I answered my phone immediately knowing it could be a call about Lady. The man on the phone said “I’ve seen your dog.” My heart skipped a beat. “Where?” I asked? He told me he had seen her on the corner of Eagandale Boulevard and Lone Oak Road. My heart dropped. I was sure he had to be mistaken. That was several miles from where she had last been seen on Tuesday. “Are you sure?” I asked him. He said “Yes. I am sure it was your dog. I just ran to Rainbow to look at the flier and now I’m on my way back to see if she is still there.” Then he said, “There she is. She’s running down West Service Road now. I’m following her.” Oh my God I thought. I told him I was going to call people to come meet him there. I was shaking. We were so close!

I remember calling Meaghan from Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) and then Cindy, a volunteer who had been helping since Lady was first lost, and then Estelle, also from Minnesota Sheltie Rescue. I was in a panic. I wanted to be there. I tried to give each of them directions to the man’s location but for some reason I couldn’t get Google Maps to work. Augh! Seriously? Why now?

I remember calling the man back to be absolutely certain that the dog he saw was in fact Lady. He said she looks just like a Minature Collie and I knew. It was her. He told me that he had her cornered in a fenced lot and that he was going to get out of the car. I asked him please to sit down if he got out and let her approach him. I told him she was afraid of people. He said, “I’m sitting down.” “God bless him!” I thought.

To be honest, I don’t remember much after that except throwing things in my bag, rushing out of work and hopping the first train home. What I know now is that as I was heading home, people had already started calling one another and many had already started arriving at Lady’s location. Deb from Springer Rescue, Estelle from MNSR, Cindy, and Stephen, another volunteer who had become involved in the search for Lady. They were all there.

Glad to be back home

I remember Stephen calling me and saying “Mel – I can see her.” I don’t know how to describe what that moment was like. Finally! I tried to hold it together as I told him that I was almost there, but the tears had already started. After all the sightings, false sightings and almost sightings, finally she was somewhere we could finally catch her. The drive to the location was sheer agony. What if I were too late? What if she bolted and got hit by a car? And then I remembered the peace I had felt on Monday, and how I had heard the words that everything would be okay, and I stopped panicking and let it all go. I knew that what was about to happen as not in my hands. I was not in control anymore.

I arrived to find several cars parked in a business driveway. I saw Estelle off in the distance near a large fenced area in the back. She waved me towards her. I parked my car and walked to the back of the building. It appeared to be some sort of docking area in the back, like a place where trucks could be loaded up with goods and sent out for delivery. The lot was huge and completely empty, except for Lady, who was sniffing around and pacing. People were blocking the exits on either side of the lot. “It’s her!” I whispered to Estelle. We watched as Lady headed towards the exit at the opposite end of the lot only to stop as Cindy or Stephen or Brad (the man I had spoken to on the phone) stood up. She would stare for a second and then trot back over towards Estelle and I. She was desperately looking for an escape route. I called out to her and even called her by name a couple of times. Each time she stopped as if she recognized my voice, but then she would start trotting off again. She was so scared. All we could do was watch helplessly as Lady trotted back and forth in fear. We didn’t have enough people to block the exits so I could go in and get her.

As each of us took turns keeping her from escaping, Estelle and I took turns calling people – friends, family, volunteers. Everyone was called in hopes they could come. Meaghan put out an all hands on deck alert via email and soon people began to arrive in from everywhere It was truly amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. Emily, from Ruff Start Rescue, drove her car up near Estelle and I and blocked the exit while more volunteers took positions to the front and side of it. Finally, I entered the lot.

Darn burrs. Thankfully fur grows back.

I crossed the lot and sat down on a curb near a concrete barrier and waited. Lady watched from the other end of the lot and then trotted over near Estelle. She stared for a long time at the exit, now blocked by a car and more people. I could just see the wheels in her head turning. She’s going to make a break for it I thought. She was so desperate to get away.

After a few moments, she turned and passed within a few feet of me. I kept my body turned to the side and my head down so as to appear less threatening to her. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she started to walk by and then stopped. Her nose lifted to the air and she sniffed. She looked at me as I called out her name softly and asked her if she wanted to go home and see Daisy and Jasper. She stared at me. I could see she knew who I was talking about. She moved a few steps forward and sniffed. Then a couple of more. And then, a few more. She was just within reach! I reached out my hand and let her sniff it. Slowly, the look of recognition came into her eyes and she sighed. It was if she was saying “It’s you. It’s you. Oh thank God it’s you.” I could see the look of relief in her eyes and watched as she circled me and walked up on the curb and came next to me. I reached out my hand and stoked her face as I said her name softly. She seemed to just relax after that. I said “Let’s get your harness on” and she stood and waited as I put it on her, and with nearly frozen fingers, attached her leash. She knew. She was going home. I let out a sob, but choked it back so as not to scare her. We started to walk, but I couldn’t stand the thought of her not being in my arms and picked her up and started to sob quietly as I carried her towards Estelle and the other women standing guard.

I remember hearing a cheer and clapping. What a long journey all of us had been on, none more so than Lady. Tears were flowing everywhere. The day I had waited for had finally come – 12 days after I lost Lady, she was finally home.

A lot of what happened after that was a blur. I remember putting Lady in my car and hugging my friends Karen and Kym and so many of the MNSR staff and volunteers I had come to know so well over the past 12 days. So many kind people who had helped bring Lady home. I also remember waiting for the man who had first spotted Lady and who had called me to tell me he had seen my dog. I gave him a huge hug and thanked him. His name is Brad Wright and in my book, he’s a hero. What a man! He had sat there for over 2 hours, waiting for people to get in place so I could go in and get Lady. He never complained. He never left. He didn’t just drive by. He stepped in and chose to help. God bless him.

Lady spent one night at the emergency vet for dehydration and was clipped to remove the many burrs that had matted her coat. She’s in bad shape visually, but in fairly good shape physically. She even seems to have adjusted to life back at home pretty quickly. She was playing with her brother Jasper tonight. Who’d have thunk it? Certainly not me.

My many, many thanks to each and every person who helped in the search for Lady. You worked tirelessly to make this happen. If not for you, she would not be home now, but facing another winter storm out in the cold somewhere all by herself. And to Brad Wright, thank you. You may not consider yourself a hero, but I do.

Lady and Brad

If you want to see more of Brad and Lady, click here. It’s the story WCCO did on her and her hero.


Welcome to the Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop. I encourage you to check out some of the other awesome pet bloggers out there. Much thanks to our most generous and interesting hosts, Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers, and Confessions of the Plume!

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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: Little Lady Lost – A sense of peace

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

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

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