Category Archives: Reunions

Bringing Kubo home

Permission to reprint from Sarah V.

We’re getting a bunch of questions about how we found him and how we managed to lure him in and grab him. For the first part: some fantastic volunteers, a very supportive and friendly community, a bunch of luck and a lot of hard work. And toner. So much toner. And paper cuts.

We shared on Facebook the night he went missing. We got some recommendations to post to Lost Dogs Illinois, so we sent them our info. They made a post for us, which many of you saw shared a few times. We could not have done this without Facebook! We also got some help from SIRA (Shiba Inu Rescue Association). Through these various groups, we were connected with our dream team rescue squad, who have a lot of experience finding lost dogs. They told us where and how to flyer. We put the word out on social media and many of our awesome friends offered to help us out. So to did many strangers who are now friends. We also passed out quarter page flyers to every dog walker we came across since they’re out walking the neighborhood and Kubo does like other dogs.

We basically followed sightings, which were mapped by a squad member. We know he went into the White Eagle Golf Club, so we started there. We were kind of scatter shot at first, til the squad stepped in. 🙂 From here on out, they’re a huge part of the “we” in this operation. We got so much wonderful guidance from them!

We did a lot of flyers in ziplocks (to protect from the elements), some large 11 x 17 flyers taped to neon poster board, and quarter page flyers. We also talked to security at White Eagle and they were very helpful and accommodating.

 

From there, we got some sightings in a neighborhood west of White Eagle. We drove around there looking and ultimately ended up flyering. No Kubo present that we could see. We did staked large signs around there, near White Eagle and in some major intersections. We also had friends that helped us get flyers into the windows or on the bulletin boards of local businesses.

Then as my wonderful mother and I were making more posters and driveway drops (sandwich zip bags with a few rocks to weigh them down and quarter page neon flyers in them), I got a call from a woman whose child goes to Calvary Christian School, which is attached to Calvary Church. We’d actually already dropped a few flyers off at the church office, so we grabbed our jumbo box of flyers. We also set up a feeding station (stinky canned food and one of my unlaundered shirts). We found out that the woman had seen him on the access road behind the church. My mom and I drove down it and did some flyering in that neighborhood behind while waiting for Brian to get off work to join us in putting up flyers. Brian came and we hopped in her warm car to strategize about where to put flyers. I happened to look out the window and… there he was at the edge of the parking lot. We got out of the car, which spooked him, and he retreated back into the field. I tried lying down with a scent item (dirty laundry, of which I have quite a bit this week…) and some food. He retreated into his little hideout, so Brian went to go get some super smelly food–fried chicken, canned chicken and liquid smoke.

Kubo reemerged when he was returning and he got spooked and ran south. We (mostly squad, mind you) put up motion cameras and trailed food. We also set up a trap but zip-tied it open with some fried chicken in it so Kubo could get used to it and get some food. We continued to get sighting reports that placed him around the church. We spent the night doing driveway drops in the subdivision nearby, and putting up more neon flyers.

This morning, Brian and I checked the cameras, put out some torn up cooked hot dogs, and set the trap. We figured out where he’d been (where we’d trailed some food and where we’d placed his bed). Brian and I watched the trap for a while, but we noticed a lot of people were pulling over on the access road. These were Good Samaritans trying to do the right thing, but I think they were scaring him more. Brian went into the church where he got a marker to remake a sign warning people away. Someone else pulled up there, so I started booking it over there to ask them to shoo. At that time, I spotted Kubo sitting in the grassy area around the lake.

Now for the lure and grab… It wasn’t planned, but I decided to try. Brian brought me two hot dogs and I crept over on hands and knees, sometimes army crawling, and then sat near the lake. I alternated between sitting and lying down. I texted everyone to tell them to not disturb. I had the hood up on my coat so I could watch him surreptitiously. He started circling and came a bit closer. I stayed down. He barked and growled, but kept getting closer. Finally he was circling me and sniffing me. I gave him a bit of time and then slowly sat up. I gave him a lot of opportunities to sniff me and made no sudden movements. He was dancing around me a bit, so I went into “play” stance. Hands and knees with my arms stretched out in front like dogs do when they want to play. He did the same and grabbed one of the hot dogs and brought it over to me like a stick (silly boy!).

I broke apart the hot dog and slowly fed it to him. I tried putting a slip leash on a few times but he honestly hates having things go over head and trying to do it spooked him a bit, so I stopped. Kept up with the hot dogs and letting him get close. I eventually managed to grab his tag and get him leashed. I walked him a bit and eventually picked him up. I have barely put him down since.

We kept in pretty consistent contact with the local animal control groups and police departments, shelters and vets.  One of the squad checked NextDoor a lot, too. For some reason, I wasn’t able to.

We took him to the vet this afternoon and he was given a clean bill of health. Poor little dude is just tired and a little rattled now. We are giving him lots of love.

Kubo at home!

Like our precious Kubo, we’re both pretty darn tired. We also have a ton of flyers to take down, so we may be a bit slow to respond. If any of our wonderful squad want to chime in, please do!

Once again, thank you to everyone who had loves, shares, time and advice for us. We’ll never be able to express our gratitude, but if you like cookies… hit me up. 😉

When Every Thing Goes Right – Capture of Leia

When a good friend and someone I have learned much from, Katie C, reached out to me to help with another loose rescue pup name Leia. I said yes. We followed our usual routine and started  a group message with volunteers and the rescue. The rescue was totally engaged in doing whatever was needed and as was the foster family. This in itself helps the whole process in general. Sometimes we use the word “textbook” loosely because when helping with a lost dog anything and everything can happen. But , I do know this. There are some steps that have proven to make the journey easier. Leia went loose on a Saturday and was safely trapped by Tuesday morning

Steps taken:

  1. Flyer. Flyer. Flyer. (This was done immediately for Leia)
  2. Sightings start coming in

    Leia being sighted in a backyard.

  3. Speak with callers and get better details. Leia was seen several times in yards where flyers had been given to homeowners. Guess what? They called.
  4. We established a good area for a feeding station and camera and trap. All the meanwhile still flyering.
  5. Learned and saw for our own eyes Leia in the area and actually engaging the zip tied trap baited with irrestable food. We knew she was comfortable and….
  6. Set and watched the trap.
  7. Safely trapped Leia

Leia checking out the trap!

 

 

 

 

 

Gotcha Leia

 

 

To say this went like clockwork is true. Flyers generated sightings. Sightings told us areas where she was. Homeowners were willing to allow us to use the tools we needed. Finally, patience and observation helped us capture Leia safely.

 

 

Thank you, Rosanne, for sharing Leia’s story.

Just Another Work Day For a LDI Volunteer in Capturing a Lost Dog

Peyton sees his Mom.

Peyton sees his Mom.

As I’m walking out of work late tonight, a scared and hesitant dog dragging a leash comes trotting past my car into the pet safe parking lot.. I was still in the distance and trying not to approach to quickly in fear she would bolt into traffic, feeling cornered. A security guard was able to get close enough slowly and grab her leash. We were cautious and didn’t chase her as much as it was instinctive to do so.. the biggest lesson I learned from volunteering for Lost Dogs Illinois: Do NOT chase a scared dog.

Luckily, she had tags and a working phone number. The owners were out of breath and ran all the way from Terminal 3 once they knew were we were. She started wagging her tail when she saw them running and the poor girl burst into exhaustive tears.

The couple had just landed in Terminal 3 and the father was picking them up with the dog in the car. She got so excited when she saw them, she jumped out of the open window and instinctively went into flight mode not realizing where she was (the loud and busy airport). They chased her all the way to terminal 1. By the time they came around, little Peyton had a whole audience of airport staff and myself were all waiting for the tail wagging reunion.

Whew!

It's my Mom!

It’s my Mom!

Thank you Marta for sharing your story!

The Stars Aligned for Buster, a lost dog…

On Thursday, August 4th, Susan, Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) Director, received an email from Arthur H., City of Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) shelter manager, asking if LDI would help with a dead end chip. Art included the kennel card and the results of CACC’s own search.

kennel_card_may_2016 (1)

Susan posted the search request on the Microchip Hunters group asking for help. The chip was a 900 chip and can be very hard to research.  On a whim Susan decided to Google the microchip. An ad for the basset came up on a website. She tried contacting the website with no results.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 12.52.54 PM

Basset Hound Puppy with matching microchip ID number

On Friday, Susan decided to post an alert to LDI Fans about this found basset hound with a “dead end” chip. Within an hour, we read a comment from Jenn, LDI Fan, had reached a contact on the website. The website contact was calling the breeder. The breeder called back with the pet store phone number. Jenn called the pet store and got the owner’s name.

Jenn contacted Susan with the owner’s name and phone number. Immediately Susan called the owner who just that day arrived home from vacation and did not know  Buster was missing. The relative who was taking care of Buster had not informed her that Buster had gone missing on 8/1. An Oh Oh moment!

Susan called CACC’s Director, Susan R, to inform her that Buster’s family was coming to the shelter to claim their dog. By the time Susan got to the desk, the relative was there claiming the dog and had all necessary paperwork.

Welcome Home Buster!

Welcome Home Buster!

Buster did not need a new home; he needed to go home. Thank you, Art, for contacting LDI to help in the research of the chip. Thank you, Jenn, for becoming part of a community to help Buster get home.

LDI/LDOA does provide a service to help in the search of dead end chips and tags. To learn more……click on this link Microchip Hunters

 

 

LDI Tips, Supporters Help Bring Rosie Home After 11 Days

Rosie snoozing

Rosie snoozing

Susan Hochgraber was so thrilled to see her Belgian Malinois again after 11 days that she almost didn’t mind the “guests” Rosie brought home with her.

Almost.

“Ugh, the emergency vet found 20 ticks on her the day we got her back,” Hochgraber said. “Then 10 more the next day, and our regular vet found eight more after that. Other than the ticks and a few cuts on her paws, though, she was OK.”

Hochgraber, a canine massage therapist from Midlothian, Ill., had barely had time to get to know the dog she rescued January 15, 2016 before Rosie escaped on April 12.

“Rosie had been rescued from the streets. It took a week and a half just to get her comfortable living with me,” Hochgraber said. “We had just finished her third week of obedience training when she escaped.”

Hochgraber had noticed that Rosie was beginning to jump at fences, so she instructed her dog walker to take off Rosie’s leash only after she had gotten the dog into the house. But the dog walker unleashed Rosie in the yard that day.

Rosie promptly jumped Hochgraber’s 4-ft.-high fence into a neighbor’s yard, and then double-jumped the neighbor’s gate fence into the street. She was gone in a flash.

Hochgraber turned to Lost Dogs Illinois,  FindFido’s service, Facebook, friends and neighbors, police departments in surrounding suburbs, and Perfect Pooches, a Chicago-area dog rescue and adoption agency, for advice on getting Rosie back.

“I did everything everyone suggested – flyers, postings, everything,” Hochgraber said. “People reported a lot of sightings, particularly around a park about two blocks from my house, and especially around one of the five ball fields at that park.”

People also reported seeing Rosie along the Metra railroad tracks that run between Midlothian and Robbins. Rosie apparently followed those tracks down to Robbins, where a woman named Charita lives with her family.

“Charita had seen our flyer and called me when she saw Rosie on April 21,” Hochgraber said. “I drove to Robbins, turned a corner and saw Rosie out in a field.”

Hochgraber called out to her dog, which got Rosie’s attention; but when she made a move towards her, the dog bolted in the opposite direction.

Volunteers from Perfect Pooches helped Hochgraber set up humane traps and round-the-clock surveillance in Charita’s backyard and near an abandoned house next to her home. They figured it might be Rosie’s “quiet place,” where she went for the night.

Hochgraber placed Rosie’s blankets in the traps, as well as towels that had the scent of her other dog, a German Shepherd named Buddy. The volunteers baited the traps with some of Rosie’s toys and treats like hot dogs and BBQ chicken from KFC.

The first night, Rosie managed to get the food and even lie on a blanket left inside the trap without tripping the door. The next night, she lay down next to the trap.

Is this a trap?

Is this a trap?

The third night, April 23, Rosie lay down inside the trap. stretched out, and tripped the gate door shut. The volunteer on duty waited five minutes to make sure Rosie was inside before calling Hochgraber with the good news.

Rosie almost trapped

Rosie almost trapped

Hochgraber said she plans to replace her 4-ft. fence with a 6-footer. She put a GPS collar with a tracker on Rosie, “and she is always on leash now when she goes out,” Hochgraber said.

“I’m grateful to Lost Dogs Illinois for all the help and support I got,” Hochgraber said. “LDI suggested things I wouldn’t have thought of doing, such as putting flyers up at gas stations and other high-traffic locations. I am also grateful to all the people who came out and helped me search for my baby girl.”

She added that the people who follow the LDI Facebook page were nothing short of “amazing” with all their reports of sightings and notes of encouragement.

“Their support helped me get through 11 days of hell,” Hochgraber said.

by Lydia Rypcinski

Duke is home!

Duke being reunited with his family

Duke being reunited with his family

We are sharing this reunion story because many dogs are not reunited with their owners .  It comes down to timing issues (owners & finders stop searching for each other, or search in different places at different times), and because many people don’t have the slightest idea how to begin a search.   This is exactly what happened.

In a unexpected turn of events, Duke’s owners were found and the family has been reunited! The owners were out of the country and didn’t have international service on their phones. Duke had been in the care of the daughter-in-law when he got loose. Unfortunately, her search efforts were limited and Duke ended up being unclaimed at animal control.

When Duke’s guardians returned from their trip they were devastated. Their baby was missing and they called animal control right away. The wonderful ACO, Dana, took the time to talk to the family and through several conversations, proof of vet records, and a home visit it was determined that this family was very sincere and had been taking wonderful care of their baby before this unfortunate accident.

Today we were able to reunite the family and it was truly heartwarming. They have had Duke since he was a puppy and he had been their baby ever since. His mom sews him clothes and he sleeps in bed with them. The icing on the cake was when they showed us the baby seat they have for him in their car. They opened the driver side door and told him to get in his seat. He jumped in, jumped in the back and hopped right in the baby seat and laid down. My heart melted.

11143235_992592274148840_5822414815685041609_n

This is a story we hear all too frequently. People go away and leave their pets in the care of someone else and end up getting loose. Please do your research about who will be caring for your pet, make sure you give them instructions on how to keep your pup safe, and contact info for who to call in the event of any emergencies.

Today we were able to reunite a dog with a family that missed him and loved him and in return, we had space to rescue a different dog who was at risk for euthanasia at a kill shelter whose owner passed away and doesn’t have a family.

Note from Lost Dogs Illinois:  As Missing Pet Partnership has stated:  More education is needed for owners, and for shelters advising owners on matters of lost pets. Improving TECHNIQUE and TIMING are two keys to improving RTO stats!

We want to thank Colleen from Perfect Pooches Adoption Agency and Dana Deutsch, North Chicago Animal Control Officer, for going the extra mile to get Duke back home to his rightful owners and allowing us to share Duke’s story.

IT ALWAYS TAKES A VILLAGE!!

This amazing reunion story is being shared for a couple of reasons:

  1. There is a need for a centralized lost and found dog database in the US.  Lost Dogs Illinois is already partnered with this FREE service called Helping Lost Pets (HeLP).  It can pull found dogs from any organization’s shelter management software system.  We need the major shelter management software suppliers to connect with HeLP so that all Found Pet Data is visible on one website. Vet Clinics, Police Departments, stray holding facilities shelters, etc. can all use HeLP for FREE.  HeLP is already connected with rescuegroups.org and sheltermanager.com. It is simple!  Just think how many more pets could be reunited!
  2. There needs to be a staff person or a group of volunteers who are trained to research dead end microchips and ID tags. Volunteers could do this right from their own home!
Riley at home.

Riley at home.

The story about Riley is no exception! It is an amazing story with many facets to it. This shy cocker spaniel got lost from his Mom while visiting friends in Palatine. Somehow he was brought into CACC in Chicago! Riley’s Mom contacted all the local PD’s and shelters from near where he got lost but she never thought to go as far as CACC in her search!!! Riley was lucky enough to have a microchip, however when he and his Mom moved from Pennsylvania she didn’t understand how it worked and she did not update her contact info which was unlucky for Riley. Consequently, CACC, animal control sent a letter to the only address on file, which was no longer valid, an old address in Pennsylvania. Riley was on a 7 day ‘letter hold’ at CACC awaiting a response from his Mom who did not receive the letter that was sent to the wrong address. Meanwhile, a fellow rescuer, Jacyln, noted this handsome dog who clearly had a home and took some photos and shared them with the rescue community. She also noted he looked like another lost dog out of Ohio belonging to, Laura . While she and I worked on that angle we hit a brick wall when the microchips did not match. The letter hold was nearing its end. Riley would be city property on 1/16/16, only available to rescues or perhaps the euthanasia room Another rescuer, Juliette was desperately seeking refuge for Riley and also convinced he was missing his family. Inspired by Juliette, I decided to do a little research on the chip and within an hour I had found Riley’s Mom. The wonders of Google and Facebook messaging had Riley’s Mom, Diane, in contact me within minutes. This was her dog, no doubt! Diane would be at CACC at noon armed with her paperwork and proof this was her Riley. However, another rescue trumped my hold request and they were going to pull him and place him in their rescue! Thankfully, both Juliette and I frantically contacted CACC via emails/phone calls and told them the story. CACC contacted the rescue, Furever Rescue, who graciously backed away and let the owner take her dog home. ( In addition to this, Furever has kindly offered to send a groomer to RIley’s home to care of those mats!)

Diane was the first person in the door at CACC today ready to take her guy home! Riley has kennel cough and was stinky and matted from his ordeal but he has gotten a bath settled in and is done with any more adventures to Chicago says his Mom, Diane. Riley proves that lost dogs can find their way home in spite of the hurdles. Riley’s story tells us lost dogs can be anywhere not just near the place they got lost from and we must look everywhere. Riley reminds me that every rescue must fully explain the importance of the microchip to their adopters as well as to keep them up date and to call them when their dog goes missing Riley’s story is also about the power of networking and sharing lost dogs on Facebook and all of us working together. You never know who will see your post that end of saving a life. Please don’t just “like” a post, please “share” it ! To everyone whose life he touched we are all the richer for it! Riley’s story involved a village to get him back home. Thanks to everyone who brought him home!!!.

Thank you, Maria Therese!

Bella’s Meet and Greet at Bentley’s Corner Barkery in Long Grove

1426230_10207657867500378_4537344765742528939_n

Bella’s meet & greet at Bentley’s Corner Barkery in Long Grove

Bella’s owners were overwhelmed by the whole experience of her being lost and even more by the support of LDI, Bella’s rescue organization, friends and mostly complete strangers that helped them bring their girl home. They wanted to try and pay-it-forward. They became passionate about getting the word out to other dog owners to help them benefit from mistakes that they had made, as well as benefiting from things they had learned that successfully brought their girl home safe and sound.

Once Bella was back home and settled in, they set up a meet & greet at Bentley’s Corner Barkery in Long Grove and invited everyone who supported them during their journey. They asked the rescue they adopted Bella from, Foster2Home, to be their guest and bring some of their adoptable dogs.

Lost Dogs Illinois was invited to attend and pass out information on the proper way to recover a scared dog. LDI did scans to check microchips of any dogs in attendance. It is important to periodically check to see if the microchip is still working and to see if the chip has begun to migrate and make sure it can still easily be found.  Also that the chip is registered to you.

Bently Barker 1.2016.1

LDI Volunteers, Jackie & Maggie, providing free microchip scans.

A good time was had by all and more importantly, more of the community was reached and made aware of the resources available to them if they ever found or lost their dog.

“People Told Us She Had Gone Off to Die”

unnamed

Nala resting at home!

When Nala went missing from her Schaumburg, Ill., home in late November 2015, well-meaning people told her family that the 13-year-old Golden Retriever had likely just “gone off to die.”

“We had had her from the time she was eight weeks old, and I didn’t want to hear that,” said Jean Cullen, the family matriarch.

The Cullens had installed an invisible fence around their property so Nala could have the run of the yard. However, the fence had deteriorated over the years, and Nala eventually figured out where the gaps were.

“We would let her out, and she would visit our next-door neighbor and our neighbor two doors down, looking for treats,” Jean said. “She would always come back within 15 or 20 minutes, when she heard us call her name.”

On November 30, though, Nala didn’t come back when called. The neighbors said they hadn’t seen her.

The family put up posters and looked for Nala under bushes and in neighbors’ sheds and garages, all to no avail. Jean also posted a lost-dog alert on Lost Dogs Illinois, on the recommendation of a co-worker.

Although she and her husband both had to leave town on business trips, the Cullens’ teenage son continued to search while they were gone.

He called them Dec. 6 to say Nala had been found – alive – in a basement window well of their neighbors’ house, two doors down.

A window well is a semi-circular area, several feet deep, dug out around an underground basement window that allows light to come in. The family that owned the house said they never heard Nala bark or make any other noise the entire time she was in the well, despite the fact they are in the basement quite often.

It wasn’t until they moved their boxes of Christmas decorations piled in front of the window that they saw her, staring back at them.

“Her groomer said Nala is such a mild-mannered dog, she probably thought she had done something wrong and didn’t want to call attention to it by barking,” Jean said.

It had rained during the week Nala was gone, and she likely drank the inch or two of rainwater that accumulated in the well. Still, “She lost eight pounds and couldn’t stand,” Jean said.

“She had no broken bones, just some scratches and was really weak.”

Nala was back to her usual weight (52 lbs.) within a week of her homecoming. The Cullens now have a long tie-out post in the backyard for her, wanting to take no more chances.

“Her wandering days are over,” Jean said. “It’s the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through, and I am so grateful to the Lost Dogs Illinois volunteers for contacting us several times to give us support and hope.

“I was afraid that, after a week, she had been stolen or was dead,” Jean continued. “The volunteers eased our pain; they were so concerned for us and for her.”

Jean says she has learned an important lesson from this experience.

“Never give up, and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone to find your pet,” she said.

“Who would have thought we’d find Nala at the bottom of a window well?”

Losing Their Way

Thank you Lydia Rypcinski, free lance writer.

 

Losing and Finding Jimmy – Reaching out to Lost Dogs of America/Lost Dogs Illinois

Jimmy

Jimmy

Two weeks ago, Lost Dogs Illinois received an email from a woman located in Seattle, Washington who needed help in capturing her shy, scared and confused dog named Jimmy.  We exchanged emails several times giving advice and suggestions.  We asked her to share her story.  Welcome Home Jimmy!

LOSING JIMMY

At the end of July 2015, I got two little dogs who had been rescued from a puppy mill:  Ladybug, a rat terrier breeder (who was due to be euthanized by the breeder because she was too old to have any more litters); and Jimmy, a one-year-old toy fox terrier (TFT).  I have had a lot of dogs, but they have all been big, bouncy, confident dogs (mostly mixed breeds).  Having small dogs was a new experience for me but, by Thanksgiving, I felt like both dogs were really integrated into our family.

The night before the holiday, I took both dogs with me to visit a family member who lived in an apartment about five miles away from my home.  I couldn’t find a leash for Ladybug in the house, but knew there was one in my car.  At the last minute, however, I wound up riding with someone else and forgot to get the leash.  I was a little concerned, but Ladybug always stays close to me when she is off leash (which is only when we are going from the front door to the car or vice versa), and even if she goes sniffing around the driveway, she always comes immediately when I call.  So I figured it would be okay.  Let’s call this “Big Mistake #1.”  ALWAYS HAVE PROPER RESTRAINTS ON YOUR DOG WHENEVER YOU TRAVEL ANYWHERE.

We got to the apartment without any mishaps and spent a couple of hours visiting and making appetizers for the next day.  The dogs seemed happy scrounging for scraps under the kitchen table.  I was feeling a little lazy and the apartment was a second-floor walkup, so I asked my hostess if she would take the two dogs for a pee break.  Big Mistake #2.  NEVER ASSUME THAT YOUR DOG WILL BE COMFORTABLE WITH ANYONE, EVEN SOMEONE THEY ALREADY KNOW.

I asked if we shouldn’t put the harness on Jimmy, instead of just a collar, but my hostess thought it would be okay.  Big Mistake #3.  A FRIGHTENED DOG CAN GET ALMOST ALWAYS GET OUT OF A COLLAR.  MAKE SURE YOUR DOG IS SECURE.

As they were leaving, it was clear that the dogs didn’t want to go with my hostess.  They were obviously distressed, but after a few seconds, she seemed to have them under control, so I was relieved and let them go.  Big Mistake #4.  LISTEN TO YOUR DOG – IF HE DOESN’T WANT TO GO WITH SOMEONE, DON’T MAKE HIM!  (I now realize that my dogs were thinking – “they are trying to take me away from my human,” so of course they were scared.)

After a few minutes, we thought we heard my hostess shouting outside.  One of the other guests went down to the street, but didn’t see anything and came back up.  We waited for them all to come back, but they didn’t.  At some point we realized that our hostess had left her cell phone in the apartment (can we say Big Mistake #5?).  IF YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE, KEEP IT WITH YOU WHENEVER YOU ARE WITH YOUR DOG OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOUSE OR YARD – YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED HELP (ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE NOT IN YOUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD).

After about 45 minutes, our hostess appeared, breathless and upset.  She said she had lost both of the dogs and we should come look for them.  As we arrived at the front door, Ladybug appeared.  Our hostess took her upstairs and the rest of us went looking.  Needless to say, we couldn’t find Jimmy anywhere, although a couple of people reported seeing him running.  We gave up and went back to the apartment.  Jimmy was lost.

FINDING JIMMY

We spent the next three days looking for Jimmy.  There are plenty of resources that can tell you how to conduct a successful search, but please let me summarize our actions and tell you what worked the best.

  • Wednesday night, we put a posting up on craigslist (we got two reported sightings from this posting)
  • I also started posting Jimmy’s picture on Facebook and Twitter and people started re-posting the notice
  • Thursday morning we printed off some posters with Jimmy’s picture and posted them on telephone poles and in a 24-hour vet clinic in the area (we got two sightings from posters)
  • Friday I went to the neighborhood and sat in my car and called Jimmy from two locations – this was wasted effort
  • There is a lot of foot traffic in this neighborhood, so Saturday morning, we ran off some quarter-sheet flyers so we could give them to people
  • We also set up a public Facebook page to coordinate information and invited lots and lots of people to “like” the page (according to FB metrics, this page reached more than 350 people; although it didn’t make a lot of difference in finding Jimmy, I started getting hundreds of messages every day from people who wanted to show their support – that made a big difference in keeping me going and not just sitting around being depressed and guilty about losing my dog)
  • Saturday, we got a call for a sighting in an area about six blocks away from where Jimmy was lost – we focused on handing out flyers to people in the street and putting them on parked cars
  • Saturday night, I went back to the area and just sat in my car for about five hours – mostly so I could just be in the area and again this was wasted time and energy
  • Sunday we went back to handing out flyers and found out that the Saturday sighting had pointed us in the wrong direction – we had focused on the blocks east of the sighting when we should have gone west – we went back and started passing out flyers
  • Almost immediately, I got a call from someone who said Jimmy had been hanging out in yards on her block (on both sides of the street) – we went to visit the person and learned that he had been hanging around since Saturday – Jimmy was found!

RECOVERING JIMMY

Around the time we tracked Jimmy down to one small area, someone sent me the article on Shy and Elusive Dogs.  I sent an email using the links on the website (lostdogsofamerica.org) and received a response from the Director of Lost Dogs Illinois.  I finally understood that calling Jimmy was not going to make him come running.  Jimmy was viewing humans – all humans – as predators, so we needed to let people know that they shouldn’t try to call him or coax him or catch him.

The neighbor who had first contacted me said that Jimmy had mostly been seen in three yards on the other side of the street.  She suggested that we set up a feeding station for him in the middle house and I went and met the homeowner.  He had seen Jimmy coming in and out of his yard and had already put out food.  By Sunday evening, the food and water were in the yard, tucked away under a bush.

Monday morning I dropped off some food from home and a well-scented blanket.  During the day, our volunteer advisers from Lost Dogs of America sent me text for people in the neighborhood and I created this flyer.  After work, I went and handed it out to each house on the block and talked with as many people as I could.  I stopped off in the yard with the feeding station and saw that the homeowner had also put out a small dog carrier and put the blanket inside of it.

poster with instructions-revised-1

Thank you Lost Dogs of Wisconsin. This letter has been used in several lost dog recoveries both in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Tuesday, I got a call from the homeowner.  He had seen Jimmy quite a few times and it looked like someone had slept in the carrier.  He also said that there were little paw prints all over his porch and that Jimmy had popped on the welcome mat.  He took this as a sign that Jimmy was feeling a little more secure in that yard.  I also got a call from the neighbor across the street, who was going every day to put wet food on the ground near the feeding station.  We all agreed to just keep up the feedings.  I also contacted our City Animal Control department, which is able to set humane traps to catch elusive dogs.  The trapping officer only works Wednesday through Saturday, so I left a message for her to contact me.

Wednesday there were more sightings in the three yards.  One person said Jimmy had actually gone up onto her deck for a little while.  I was glad to hear that he seemed to be staying put, but I was also really missing my pup and kept thinking about him getting hit by a car.  It was a hard night.

Thursday morning, I decided that I needed to try to make contact, so that at least Jimmy would know that I hadn’t abandoned him.  I took the day off and got to the yard with the food around 9 a.m.  I bundled up in another funky blanket and lay down on the porch.  I had only been there a few minutes when Jimmy appeared.  I ignored him and he paused when he saw me on the porch, but went on to grab some food and left.

I stayed buried in the blanket and peeked out.  He kept coming back every few minutes.  I decided to cover my head too so I wouldn’t be tempted to make eye contact.  After about ten minutes I heard a little whine and when I peeked out, Jimmy was very cautiously approaching me.  He was obviously frightened, so I didn’t do anything except lift the blanket in a little bit.  He snuck in and kept sniffling.  By the time he was all the way under the blanket, he knew it was me.

I let Jimmy lick my face for a few minutes and then made him put on the harness I had ready.  That’s pretty much the whole story.  He was a little skinny, but checked out okay when I took him to the vet.  I feel extremely lucky, knowing how many lost dogs never make it home.  You can believe I will be putting all the lessons I learned into effect and remembering all of my Big Mistakes.  Thankfully, while we were looking for Jimmy, someone sent me the article from the Lost Dogs of America website about shy and elusive dogs, or I don’t think we would have successfully recovered my dog.

So Jimmy’s owner sent this last tip to me:  We have never used this before – but whatever it takes……..About scent marking for a stray dog:  It’s standard advice to scent mark in the area where the dog has been seen, especially if you have set up a feeding station.  I’ve see suggestions to use a dirty piece of clothing or a blanket from home.  Personally, as I tend to think like a dog, I believe that urine is the best scent marker.  Just pee into a disposable cup and then transfer the urine to a little dropper or squirt bottle – the kind that eye drops or nose spray come in is perfect (then put the filled dropper bottle inside a Ziploc bag in case of leaking).  It only takes a few drops in different locations in the area where the dog has been sighted — try to renew the markings once a day.  Just make sure that the drops form into a “trail” leading back to the yard where the dog is being fed.  You may think that the dog doesn’t know what your urine smells like, but you’re wrong.  Your dog’s nose will tell him that you have been there.