Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ask Lola : A slobbering advice column written by a dog for eco-minded dogs and their owners

Dear Lola: My neighbors found a lost dog what should they do? Their kids really want to keep the dog, but their parents keep reminding them that she has a home & family who love her. Right now the dog is staying at their home and they have put signs up but have not found the owners. This would be a good topic to discuss since many people don’t know what to do in this situation.

Sincerely, LOST & HOUND

DEAR LOST & HOUND: I want to applaud your neighbors for being the saving grace for a furry friend and opening up their hearts and homes even if it’s momentary. I agree with the parents, although the kids have fallen head over paws for this dog and there will be teary goodbyes and barks. It is important to reunite her with her family, just remind them of how it would feel to lose their pet. As Dorothy from the Land of Oz would say, “There is no place like home”. Unfortunately, unlike Dorothy and Toto there are no ruby red glass slippers to click together. So it is up to all you dog lovers out there and readers to help send them home.

We all know the feeling of losing or misplacing our wallet, a pair of glasses or important papers (which by the way may have been chewed up by the dog). My parents always say if their heads weren’t attached they would lose that too. But imagine the stress of losing a wandering pet. Yes even the dog that chews through your shoe closet will be missed. Every dog owner will agree that regardless of the number of opened toed causalities they would rather live with Spot then live without him. So it is important to remember that at the end of every leash is not just a dog owner but a loving parent.

Just a month ago my parents and I were driving home from a late dinner with family. I noticed what I thought was a white furry cat crossing the street and started barking to say “Hi”. It was a case of mistaken identity because it looked like my neighbor Francis a fancy feline. So my parents stopped and realized it was a dog. The dog was lost and confused and had wandered from home. Being bark-lingual and taking a cue from my friend Cesar Millan I was able to translate for my parents. If you haven’t guest it by now I am huge fan and started a fan club, but that’s another story entirely. So I introduced myself and asked his name, he told me his name was Dudley.

So after a few sniffs we asked him if he needed a ride home but he was new to the area and did not know where he lived. I guessed what had happened was that he saw a squirrel and could not resist a good chase (trust me I know) so through the open gate he swiftly ran. But it wasn’t until he got a mile from the dog house that he realized he was truly lost. So we reassured Dudley that we would sniff high & low and would not stop until we found his home.

I was able to share with him my story of hope about the day I was lost but then reunited with my loving parents. Because I was in a similar situation once involving an open door, family of rabbits and that instinct desire to chase. But luckily a kind woman and her unsung super dogs were there to save the day. When I found my parents we all vowed that we would always stop to help a lost & wandering dog.

Since this is such an important topic to bark about I’ve decided to do my first ever 2 part series. The first half will be about what to do if your pet wanders from home and gets lost. The second part will focus on tips to safely reunite a lost pet with their owner if you find a lost dog or cat. But now on to the topic of the hour, helpful tips for searching for a lost dog, because you never know when you will need to put your sleuth cap on.

1. Don’t Panic- Although this can be a traumatic experience for you and the family it’s important to stay calm.

2. Form a Search & Sniff Party- Get family and friends together to find Spot or Felix the cat in an organized fashion. In the first 2 hours tell your family and friends to search within a 2 mile radius of where your pet was last spotted. It is a good idea to give your search party a recent photo and a detailed description of your pet so they can ask people in the neighborhood if they have seen your dog or cat. Many times a pack of pups may have spotted your dog or cat a short time ago wandering the streets.

3. While you are out searching, bring along your dog's favorite toy (in my case my recyclable bone), or sound a noise that makes him come running. Dogs can hear sounds from very far away and may come if they hear a comforting sound! Shaking a treat bag or something else a dog knows can help.

4. Have someone stay at the home just in case your pet shows up at your doorstep. With the lack of opposable thumbs your dog won’t be making a collect call anytime soon to tell you of his or her where about. So one person should be in charge of making phone calls to your local Humane Society, animal shelters, and rescues, vets, and police departments. Contact your neighbors to be on the lookout. If you're close to a county line, contact similar places in that county, too.

5. Put articles of clothing or a dog's favorite toys outside the house. Dogs are attracted to things that bring them comfort. A scent of you, whom they love can lure them home and will have Lassie come running.

6. Besides getting your dog his or her 15 minutes of fame, TV and radio can aid in the search. If your local TV and radio stations make community announcements, ask them for help.

7. Notify the local pounds and shelters your dog is lost and give a proper description. Better yet, stop down with a recent photo for them to hang or hold on to. Because their sole mission is to find dogs loving home, they are always excited when they can help reunite you with your furry loved one. Also, if a kind stranger does find a dog and brings it there, the staff will know to reach you. NOTE: If they do call with a dog that matches, make sure to VISIT YOURSELF. Their description and yours can easily vary.

8. Check all the pounds in the area. Dogs are sometimes brought in as strays.

9. Dogs tend to wander where they go frequently or are familiar with, perhaps in a neighbor’s backyard or at the nearest dog park. Be sure to put extra flyers around that park, or notify the owners of that dog park to keep a lookout. If you ask they may let you post pictures of your dog around the park for other pups to see.

10. Even after it’s too late to search anymore don’t give up. Create an ad with a recent picture of your dog. If you don't have a photo, and your dog is a purebred, use a picture from a book. Describe the dog so an average person or pooch walking the streets would recognize him if he saw him. Include identifying information about him like his collar, dog tags, birth marks, identifying features like scars or unusual colorations, or microchip ID number.

11. Be specific: "LOST: (Dog's Name) a brown dog with white face and paws, SPAYED female; got loose from yard on Dec. 1, 2005 (Location where lost) near the post office in Our Town, PA around 4 p.m. Wearing a pink collar with rabies tag and license. Is on anti-seizure medication. Family pet. REWARD. Call …

12. Check the "found" ads in they newspaper each day your pet is lost.

13. BEWARE OF FALSE ALARMS: Never respond to a found pet claim alone. Take a friend and ask to meet in a public place such as the park.

14. Day 2: Intensify the search. Start ads posting on bulletin boards and in high visibility areas like gas stations and grocery stores in your neighborhood. Tape flyers to phone poles. Ask friends and family members to distribute flyers door-to-door.

15. After 2 days: Extend your search. Go a little farther by vehicle or bike and start spreading the word to your local mailmen, UPS and Fed Ex drivers, joggers, runners, bikers and anyone else walking around the search areas.

16. Call area shelters and give them a detailed description of your pet. Drop off or fax a copy of your ad. Expand the radius of your search area by several miles - call shelters even beyond the area you think your dog could have reached.

17. Start visiting the animal shelters and rescue leagues to look for your pet every other day. Just keep in mind that if a dog goes lost for a few weeks their appearance can change from clean cut to disheveled, dirty & matted. Don’t worry with a little primping & pampering your dog will be back to his or her old self, winning best in show.

18. Don’t give up your search. Thanks to your persistence and the kindness of strangers pets that have been lost for months have been reunited with their families.

If you are still not a believer in happy endings here is a wonderful and joyful article about a miracle, faith and hope. Written in the New Post the article talks about Rocco, a lost beagle that squeezed himself under the backyard gate and disappeared from his home in Queens and returns safely 5 yrs later. He was found 850 miles from where he lived in Georgia. One could say that the strong love of his best-friend, 5-year-old Natalie, brought him home. She refused to give up believing and searching. The combination of faith, kindness of sweet Georgia Peach, southern hospitality & a micro-chip embed in Rocco’s back makes for a happy ending. After being brought in by a nice stranger as a stray to a local animal shelter in Georgia his family was contacted immediately. Click link to read full story and watch reunion video below:

So I hope all you loyal readers and barkers tune in next week for the conclusion of my 2 part series. But let me guess, right now you are probably on the edge of your seat wondering what happened to Dudley. Well being a dog who loves the element of surprise and suspense my snout is sealed for now. You will just have to wait to read the column next week, where I will reveal Dudley’s fate. Will he be reunited? You will just have to stay tune to the series finale!

All you reunited lost pups & felines out there please bark over an email about your stories of a lost pet and the day you were reunited. Your encouraging stories of home will inspire those searching for a lost pet and help those going to similar circumstance. I would love to hear from you and our loyal readers would too.

No matter how far one travels or wanders home is truly where the heart is!

Barkingly yours,

Lola the eco-dog

If you haven't guessed it already my column is not just about saving the planet but is also a about helping the community of dog lovers. If you have a question or need advice from Lola the eco- dog on ways you & your dog can go green or wants some advice or encouragement just Twitter her or email her at . Lola the eco-dog is here to help! If you love Lola’s column read it every Thursday or better yet subscribe to her blog.

1 comment:

Dogs Trust said...

I loved this column so much I ended up linking to it and mentioning some of the great ideas on the editor's blog at DoggySnaps:

I hope you don't mind! I also added some of Dogs Trust's tips for finding and reporting a lost dog, though these are much more UK-centric as that's where we're based.

Good work, Lola (and owners, of course!)!