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Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Do Love Happy Endings

The call I got had actually been closed by another officer. Unable to locate. The call type, Abandoned Dog. When I got there and talked to the home owner's daughter, it turns out this dog is actually a stray.

So the back story.
Apparently, the homeowner had seen a dog in her backyard about a month ago. Then it disappeared. She thought maybe the gardeners had left the gate open and the dog wandered in and then left again. Then a week ago she saw it again. Same dog wandering in her backyard bushes. Again she thought it was the gardeners leaving the gate open and one of her neighbor's dog was getting in again. But then the next day she saw it again. It was the same dog. Then she realized that there is no way the dog could be getting in and out, she had all new fences and there were no hole. The gardeners said nothing to her, so they hadn't seen it. She called ACR to report this dog in her backyard, for a month.
So I met with the homeowner and her oldest daughter and granddaughter. The daughter said once they realized that the dog had been there so long they immediately fed it chicken and rice. The dog was very fearful and wouldn't let anyone close. It stayed behind the thick hedge the ran the entire fence line around the yard, but it was eating and luckily the homeowner regularly had a bucket of water outside for various purposes.
I had a very difficult time due to the thickness of the hedge trying to even see the dog. But then it stopped and I was able to get a look.
The dog was a golden Retriever mix of some kind. Very golden hair, a female looking face and white on "her" chest. The daughter and I took to calling her a "her" just based on her face. She just looked like a girl.
And she looked so familiar to me. I had seen this dog's face before.
Coaxing didn't work too well. She would jut run along the back of the hedge as we called her and tried to get her to come out. My mind was working over where I had seen her before.
Then it hit me. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before. Craigslist.
I asked the daughter if she had Internet access. I explained to her where I had thought I had seen the dog. Her younger sister still lived with their mom and she had a laptop in her room. So we took a break from trying to get the dog out of the hedge and tried t look for the dog on CL.
The daughter found two possible ads. One was from pretty far off, the other was definitely within a few miles. She called the first one and it wasn't the right dog. And unfortunately the ad and picture wouldn't load.
When we went out to try to get their dog out again she actually growled when we got close. Not a nasty growl, just a I'm really scared so back off growl. I hated having to do it, since I knew she was just terrified, but I got my catch pole. The hedges also made it very difficult to get her out, but I finally got her out. She was definitely freaked out. I sat down on a chair and slowly drew her close to me, talking soft and reassuring her I wasn't going to hurt her.Finally I was able to touch her, then pet her. She began to relax a little but she was still scared. I switched the catch pole for a leash. Her neck hair indicated that she had a collar not long ago. The hedges probably removed it.
Once she was a little calmer. We walked her out to my truck where my microchip reader was. The dog was so happy to be out of the backyard that she practically dragged me to the truck. When I opened the door to grabbed the scanner, she jumped in. She was ready to go!
After finally locating a battery, borrowed from my garage door opener, I scanned her. No chip read. A small sense of defeat. I always want it to be easy. It never is.
I wasn't giving up though, and neither was the home owner's daughter. She was going to go home and get on her home computer that she knew worked well. I was going to hope that the microchip reader at the shelter would pick up a chip, as it often does. Our "Halo" readers suck.
The daughter had wanted to take the dog to her house until the owner could be located. But since she was already in my truck, and the daughter lived quite a distance away, I was going to be taking her with me.
It nagged at me through my next call. Since I was close to home I decided to swing by and use my own home computer and look up the ad.
Sure enough. There was her picture. It was 99.9% her. Her name was Sammy and she had been missing a month! She was micro chipped (did I mention my chip reader sucks?).
I tried calling the first phone number provided. The man on the other end said that if this was regarding the CL ad, the number must have been mis-typed. He didn't have a missing dog.
The second number reached a voice message. I left a message.
I got a call from the home owner's daughter. She had found the ad and did the same thing I did. Wit the same results. But she was sure too that this was the dog. Sammy was just chillin in my truck now.
I stopped by one of my favorite vet hospitals after patrolling around the area where the ad had said the dog had been lost. No signs. But it had been a month. I borrowed the vet's chip scanner, one of the old models. Nope. Nothing. The chip reading would have to wait until we got back to the shelter.
I left a couple more messages. It was frustrating being so close to reuniting this dog who had been gone so long, yet not being able to.
I finally got back to the shelter. I scanned the dog and there it was, the microchip! 460 called the Chip company for me while I did a search in our system. Just as she got the info my phone rang. It was the daughter again. She had finally gotten a hold of the owners. She was so excited. The chip info matched the phone number and name of the person who the daughter had talked to.
I called the owner. He was almost speechless when I spoke to him. I told him that if her could get to the shelter before 6pm, I would be able to give him his dog. Otherwise he would have to wait 2 more days since we would be close the next 2 days. To be honest, if he had said he wouldn't be able to be there until 7, I would ha ve waited. I gave him my cell number and told him to call when he arrived.
At 5:50pm I got the call. they were here. 460 and I loaded Sammy up in the truck and drove out the gate to meet the owners.
Sammy was a completely different dog when she got out of that truck. She was jumping, no, springing! with joy. Wiggling and whining not knowing who to love first, mom, dad or her girl. She bounded from one to the other licking and wiggling, tail wagging furiously with joy. The family was overjoyed as well. Loving on her and talking sweet talk to her.
Mom said they had been coming to the shelter several times a week and on weekends looking for her. Sammy had gotten out during the last windstorm that had done a lot of damage to the area with downed trees and fences. Their fence was a victim of the storm.
Sammy's chocolate lab buddy as home was a depressed mess without her. He would be so happy to see her again too.
And with that we said good-bye. They took their beloved dog home. She will get a vet check-up and new collar and tags the next day. She had lost quite a bit of weight, but she was pretty fat before going missing, according to the owners.
I called the daughter and let her know about how happy Sammy and her family were to be re-united. She was very happy.
Gotta love those happy endings.


  1. If I had a tail, it would be wagging, along with the rest of me wiggling.... ew bad visual!

    is there a univeral micro chip reader, yet?

    Petfinder has a great article with regards to finding a lost dog, that ebery pet owner should read and act on.

    Tips for Finding a Lost Dog

    PF Contributor, Alan Grosbard
    How to Find Your Lost Dog

    By the time you are reading this article, most likely you have been looking for your lost pet for 24 hours or more. You have walked then driven your neighborhood. You have been to the local animal shelter and registered your pet as missing. You have lost a lot of sleep.

    You are reading because you feel the odds are strong that you will recover your pet. In the vast majority of instances, your instincts will prove true.

    Let's try to help you. Let's briefly go over 3 things:

    (1) why pets run away and where they often go,

    (2) the logical steps to take in assisting recovery and

    (3) things you can tell your friends later if you are among the many who succeed in recovering your lost pet.

    (1) Why and Where do they go?
    (2) Steps to Recovering Your Pet
    (3) How to Avoid Losing Your Pet

  2. I thought I'd post a story of my own.

    I used to rescue coonhounds, before the stress got to be too much. One day I picked up a nice old black-and-tan from a H.S. about 70 miles from my place. She was obviously well-loved; she had a recent surgery scar on one shoulder. She also had a collar with a rabies tag, but the shelter said the number was not in service.

    After having her for one night, it suddenly struck me - the H.S. was in a different area code from me. So I tried the number in my area code, and, bingo. And I hadn't got more than a few words of description out before the receptionist said, "That sounds like Abby!"

    Result: happy reunion. You should have heard Abby sounding off in her big old "bawl mouth" when their car drove up.

    Moral: Never let a coonhound off leash, especially when you're walking in a National Forest. She was found 40 miles from where they were. 40 miles.


  3. Hi Ruthie,
    It's funny you should say that about Hounds, I happen to own a Walker Coonhound! I know exactly what you mean about not letting them off the leash, UNLESS you are hunting and have a training collar and Tracking collar!! I don't even let my Walker out the front door without a leash or holding onto her, or she will shoot across our road and be in the huge field across the road. Then it's HOURS of trying to get her back!! But she is great hunting!!

  4. Sigh... I sold my tracking system a few years ago, when my health went downhill. But I once had a grand TW. Solid and honest; quiet on trail, chop on tree, with a two-bawl loud locate. Once he did that, there WAS a coon in that tree. He was also a good house dog! I miss him.

    I only have one hound today, a rescued Blue Gascon. Talk about a bawl mouth!