Tag Archives: reunion stories

Champ – Lessons Learned.

On April 30, I pulled up to a house, and I saw a proud new father in his driveway holding his son. I exited my vehicle and introduced myself. A few hours before, I had seen a post on Facebook about a local family dog, Champ, that was missing. As soon as I could, I contacted the owner, Jeff, to learn more about his dog. He told me Champ had gone missing the night before. He was a large, brindle 10 year old male Lab/Boxer mix, with a white chest, red collar, and friendly disposition. I thought to myself, friendly, big, older dog; this should be easy. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

As Jeff held his son, he explained what had happened the night before: he was letting the dogs out before heading to bed. Champ and his brother, Jager, went out. Jeff let the dogs back in, or so he thought. He locked up the house and went to bed. In the morning, he discovered Champ was not in the house, and not outside. Champ was gone!

Champ’s information was immediately put up on the Lost Dogs Illinois Facebook page and other area pages. Soon, Jeff and his wife got the first call of many from people seeing Champ over the next 8 days.   The first few calls had Champ heading 
toward a nearby golf course. Jeff and Jess headed 
out to look, then spent the day driving around 
passing out fliers and talking to people in the 
neighborhood. Many were now on alert and knew
to call them if he was spotted. That evening, with a heavy heart, Jeff and Jess went home without finding Champ.

The following day, I made more fliers, hoping to get them hung. I also put a flier on the back window of my car and encouraged others to do the same. I was getting stopped multiple times by people asking questions and telling me they were watching out for Champ. Jeff and Jess continued to get calls seeing Champ in the area of the golf course and by the red barn. As more people shared the posts of Champ missing, there were more cars in the area. That meant there were more eyes to spot him, but also more cars that could hit him, and people to chase him away. Another full day came and went without Champ home.Untitled

 

Champ was spotted but managed to slip into clever hiding places each time. I received a message around 10:15pm that night that Champ was now spotted a couple miles down at a park. He was just an arm’s length away from someone, but when they said Champ’s name, the dog turned and ran into the darkness of the park. Someone posted the sighting online and people arrived at the park using flashlights. A police officer even used his spotlight to help. However, if Champ was there, he was not going to come out with that number of people searching.  Jeff took the shirt off his back,and put it and some treats under a play area he hoped Champ would go to for rest.

On Saturday morning  Jeff woke early to check on his shirt and treats. No Champ, no change. Thinking that it was the weekend and that Champ would be ready to mingle, Jeff was sure he would go up to someone and would be home that evening. Families would be out in yards. Fathers would be barbecuing dinner, and the smells would lure Champ out of hiding! Jess also created the Find Champ Facebook page. Champ had 771 followers very quickly. The day passed and there were just 2 calls and still no Champ. Jeff and Jess put out another blanket and treats near the cornfields where they thought he may be.

Seeing Jeff and Jess looking a little defeated, I reached out to Susan from Lost Dogs Illinois. She knew Champ was missing, but I needed to fill her in on what we had been doing and ask for suggestions for next steps. She mentioned that Champ may not be seen for the same reason we thought he would be. Because it’s the weekend and a lot of people would be out, he would hide. I also inquired about using a tracking dog, and she said they do not recommend tracking dogs. They do not find dogs. She did suggest a feeding station and trail camera. She also offered, if needed, a large humane trap. After talking with Susan, I shared her suggestions with Jeff and Jess.  They felt that setting up a humane trap would not be an option as Champ was a Houdini, and there was no way he would be kept in a trap if he went in. We set up a feeding station where  he had been spotted on several different days which lead right to an area we would eventually call “Tick Field.”

The next morning we went to the feeding station hoping we would walk up and find Champ resting on his blanket with a full belly of chicken and bacon. My heart sank. The bowl was untouched. I went home and printed a map marking all the sighting locations. I was trying to see if there was any pattern to his movements. For a few days it seemed he was on the golf course during the day and park at night. If this was true, where was he hiding?

Monday was uncomfortable. Silence is usually a blessing, but this time we would have welcomed the phone ringing and it wasn’t. No one was calling – was Champ ok?

Tuesday morning was an eventful one. Jeff and Jess started receiving calls at 6am. Champ was spotted walking down a road. Then, he was on a path behind an elementary school. This was the closest Champ had gotten to home. We wondered with the rain from the night before, were all the scents being picked up and he was on his way home? Again, people were posting all over social media and the area had people everywhere. Champ once again outsmarted everyone and slipped by. At this point, Jeff and I were thinking how crazy it is that Champ has been seen by everyone else but us. We had spent every free minute looking for him and hanging fliers and talking to people, and Champ never showed himself to us.  I asked for help to post fliers in this new area. I was going up and down the streets placing Champ’s information by the mailbox flags. I knew we could not place anything inside a mailbox.  I noticed a mail truck coming our way and was happy to see it. In recent days I had been able give other mail carriers a flier that was happily received with well wishes for finding Champ. This was not the case with this time. She ignored my 2 attempts to get her attention and then turned her truck around and started up the other side of the street where I had just been and watched her as she went up to the mailboxes and took the fliers. Shocked, I looked at the other volunteer and said, “She is taking the fliers!” He was just as stunned. He caught up to her truck and asked her why she was taking them since they were about a lost dog. She snapped at him something about postage and drove off. I called the post office to find out that no one is allowed to put anything inside or on a mailbox.!

Wednesday went by without a single call.  Jeff and I began to walk behind the houses into “Tick Field.” We were playing detective, not allowing Champ to be steps ahead of us anymore. This is when Jeff mentioned Champ also ‘army crawls’. I am out here looking for a brindle coated dog that would blend into everything that also army crawled!  We found some fresh dog poop and a toy that had the stuffing newly pulled out (this is something Champ would do).  As we walked, Jeff was pulling ticks off of himself. Jess showed up and had Jager, Champ’s dog buddy, with her. He seemed to walk a path they felt was where Champ walked. When we exhausted our “research” of this area we headed to the car. While walking back to the car, Jess about stepped on a snake.  Thankfully she saw it before, stepped back and we concluded it was just a garter snake.  WHEW!

Thursday was another quiet day with no calls. I had just finished checking the feeding station when Jess called. It was about 8:15pm, and she had just received a call from a couple of girls who were out on their bikes and saw Champ. He was over by the gates by the beach. This was about 2 miles from the last place he was seen on Tuesday. I was close to the street so I headed over. We had not had any calls since Tuesday morning, and there was still a constant flow of cars and people looking – Champ had moved somewhere quieter.  I heard a ruckus in a yard when I pulled into the gates where he was said to have headed. It was really dark by this time, and it made it very difficult to see. I also knew I could not say his name without him running, so I was praying for backup, just in case. That’s when Jeff pulled up. We canvassed the street and yards, not expecting too much. We went down to the gate where he was first spotted before the girls called his name and he ran. There, we met another woman who saw him too. She said he was standing, sniffing around. He was there long enough for her to pull out her phone and bring up his picture, she was 100% sure, it was Champ. The concern about cars was even greater now. As we  stood there, cars sped by. We couldn’t afford other people looking for him to add to the traffic on the roads. Even worse, Champ could run into the road!

Thankfully, we moved fast. One woman had already posted the sighting on FB, but we were able to delete it before anyone saw it. I talked to Jeff, asking him to keep this quiet, just between a small group of us for Champs safety. Let’s let him get comfortable, even if it took another day or two. We called it a night shortly after to allow Champ the space to find a place to rest and be safe for the night.

Friday morning, both Jeff and I did a quick drive around before work. Neither of us saw anything, which was okay though. For the first time I actually felt that Champ was safe.  SUDDENLY, at 2:42pm, I received a text.  This is what I saw: “Look who I have!”  I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was incredibly happy for Jeff and Jess. Champ looked good. Now, what was the story?

Champ

Well, after the Tuesday morning sightings, it seems that Champ headed down toward the beach through the gates. He took up residence under a deck. A  gentleman  had spotted him, but was unaware that Champ had been missing for all these days. While we were on call for sightings, a relationship was building between Champ and this man. In the morning he would give Champ pancakes, and for lunch he would have some chicken. This afternoon, Champ came out for a little love and his new friend was able to get the phone number off Champs tags and call Jeff. As you can imagine, with this news Jeff rushed over to the house. Champ was under the deck. There was only one way in and one way out. Jeff walked to the back and he whistled “his whistle” and Champ came out like a flash to greet his dad. After a few minutes of hugs, kisses, and tears, Jeff thanked the man and headed home with Champ. I was able to stop by their house within the next hour. I was so happy to meet this big boy that led us on an expedition that lasted for 8 days!

Champ’s travels took him to the golf course, through corn fields, by the red barn, the park, on bike paths, digging in backyards, trotting under windows, and traipsing through the woods.  He came through it all with an abundance of ticks and only a small cut on his paw. Other than that, he was tired and a little clingy, but Jeff was just fine with that as long as Champ was home.

Champ3

Here are some of the important things I learned while searching for Champ:

  •  I think the most important thing I learned was that having a ‘core’ group is crucial.
  •  Too many people responding to a sighting pushes a dog further away.
  •  Dogs get to a point when running scared where they won’t answer, no matter how        friendly they are or who is calling them
  •   Keeping some information quiet is best for the safety of the dog.
  •  Set aside your emotions and think of the dogs safety first .

Finally, I was reminded that we live in such a wonderful community. I have 
 seen again how one dog can bring people together, and now, I have 2 new amazing people in my life ‐ Jeff and Jess, and, of course, Champ and his dog buddies at home. That little boy Jeff was holding when I first stopped over is in for an exciting story when he grows up!

Sidenote:  We want to thank Kerry, Jess and Jeff for sharing their story about Champ. LDI’s mission is to empower our dog loving communities with resources, tools and tips on how to find lost dogs.  The more knowledge that is disseminated;  the more dogs will be returned home safely.

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!!

Coqueta

Coqueta was reunited with her family the next day after her mandatory three day stray hold at Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC).

Miracles and happy endings do exist!!! Thanks to the guidance and help from the two animal welfare organizations, Red Door Shelter and New Leash on Life; Coqueta’s Good Samaritan was able to pull Coqueta from CACC and foster her. A team of volunteers distributed fliers and in one night she was reunited when her owners saw one of the posted fliers.

One of Lost Dogs Illinois’s (LDI) concerns with reducing the stray hold from five days to three days was owners would not have time to find their lost dogs. Coqueta’s story verifies this. Many owners who are looking for their dogs do not find them within three days. More time is needed.

A LDI shout out to this special Good Sam who went the extra mile to find Coqueta’s family! Coqueta didn’t need a new home. She just needed to go back home.

Pebbles and the Good Samaritans who did not give up!

Peebles+after+the+capture+2

Pebbles

On an early January evening, while cooking dinner, one of my dogs started barking like crazy at our front door. I went to see why she was barking, and saw a black & white dog in the driveway across the street. I immediately went out and tried to call her, but she just looked at me, went up the driveway and was gone. I rang my neighbor’s doorbell and told them about her. They informed me that they had been seeing her for a couple of weeks. I called Animal Control because I thought it might be someone’s dog from our neighborhood. When the Animal Control officer arrived they did a “drive-by”, didn’t see her, and left. I checked Lost Dogs Illinois’ website to see if I could find any similar dogs that had been posted as missing in the previous two weeks with no luck.

A couple of days went by without a sighting. That Saturday we decided to walk around the neighborhood to see if we could spot her, and we did! We called Animal Control again. When the officer arrived I gave him a description of the dog. He informed me that they had been looking for the same dog for 6-8 weeks. I went back on the Lost Dogs Illinois website to search for missing dogs back to November or December. That is when I saw Pebbles. She had been missing since November 24th from Carpentersville. I wasn’t sure if that was really the dog I was seeing because we live in Elgin. We are about 10 miles from where she was last spotted. Could this really be Pebbles?

At first we were unsure if we should contact the person who posted her to LDI’s page. We weren’t positive it was Pebbles, because she wouldn’t let us get close enough to get a good look, but the similarities were uncanny. Our thought was “some hope is better than no hope” so we got in contact with Rayann, Pebbles’ foster mom. She informed us that Pebbles had gotten out while on a trial adoption with a family in Carpentersville.

Rayann and another woman came out the next night to help us search for her. We had no luck that night, but told Rayann we would not stop trying and would text her if we spotted Pebbles again. Steve spent countless hours tracking and searching the neighborhood. He was out there in a blizzard, and on many below-zero nights, hoping to find signs of where she was sheltering. He had a few leads, but never truly found her it. Pebbles did lead him on a couple of nice long walks around the neighborhood as she darted in between houses and through yards.

We then set up a feeding station at our house, handed out flyers, and knocked on peoples’ doors to generate sightings. It turned out that a lot of people had seen Pebbles. We installed video cameras at our house so we could watch and record when the dog was coming to eat. The first time we got her on video, I sent it to Rayann, and she confirmed it was in fact Pebbles!

At that point, we weren’t sure how we were going to catch her. That’s when I saw a post on LDI’s Facebook page about a dog that had been missing for a year and was recently caught. I commented on the post saying how it gave us hope about catching Pebbles. Susan Taney and Katie Campbell replied to my comment and from there we started messaging on Facebook.

Susan informed me that she had a trap we could borrow. The next night, Susan drove out to our house and showed us how to set the trap and explained how to lure Pebbles into it. We spent two weeks slowly moving the feeding station into the trap. Then, at 3:59am on February 22nd Pebbles worked up the nerve to go all the way into the trap. She set off the trap but, unfortunately, the trap door bounced and she was able to get out. Our hearts were broken. The next day we started the process of slowly moving the feeding station into the trap again. Pebbles was now so leery of the trap that she wouldn’t go anywhere near it. It was time to devise a new plan.

After consulting with Susan and Katie, we decided it would be best to try and get her into our backyard. My husband, Steve, is very handy and extremely talented when it comes to thinking outside the box and putting those ideas into motion. He thought that if we could get her into our backyard and figure out a way to get the gate to close behind her, we could catch her. He rigged up a whole pulley system with ropes and bungee cords tied to our gate, with the other end of the rope tied to a frozen hot dog. Pebbles had a history of taking the food we left out for her and running off with it to eat somewhere else.    If she tried to take the hot dog and run she would set off the trap, and the gate door would close behind her before she could get out. Once again, Pebbles outsmarted us. She came into our back yard several times, but each time decided to lie down and enjoy her hot dogs in peace. Again, it was time to figure out a new plan.

Steve made some adjustments to his design, and decided that he was going to attach a rope to the gate and bring it up to the front porch of our house. We were hopeful that when we saw her on the camera in the backyard, we could go out front and pull the rope to close the gate. We tried this every night for about a week, but Pebbles would never come when we were awake. She somehow knew exactly when we went to bed and would show up about 10 minutes later. We nicknamed her “Santa” because she “knew when we were sleeping and when we were awake”. She would then wander around our yard and peacefully eat her hot dogs.

Finally, on March 17th , Steve decided he was going to stay up late to see if she would come. It was around midnight when he saw her on the camera. Her head popped through the open gate and she looked around. She then came all the way into the yard and started sniffing around. Steve immediately went out our front door and pulled the rope with all his might to shut the gate. The gate was closed and she was now in our back yard! I was awakened when he said “I got her…she’s in the back yard!” I instantly called Rayann to tell her the news. She was so excited that she got dressed and headed out our way. Now we had to try to get the slip lead on her, and it wasn’t going to be easy. Pebbles is extremely fearful of people…even those whom she had been seeing and smelling, and who were feeding her daily.

I messaged Katie and Susan for advice. Katie suggested one of us go out there with food, sit down, and slowly scooch our way toward Pebbles. I armed myself with a bowl of cut up hot dogs and headed to the backyard. I sat down and had Pebbles in my sight, never making direct eye contact with her.   I used yawning and lip licking as calming signals, while pretending to eat the hot dog pieces and gently tossing some to her. Every couple of minutes I would scooch a little closer and she would move away a little more. After about an hour and a half I was able to get her in the corner behind our garage and shed. She let me get close enough that I could softly pet her and tell her it was going to be ok. I pulled the slip lead out of my pocket and gently slid it over her head. She never resisted. She knew her ordeal was over and she was safe. I called Steve to let him know that he and Rayann could come outside. Rayann was so happy to see Pebbles, and Pebbles was happy to see her too! We were all in tears.

Peebles+and+Amy+after+capture+2

Pebbles and Amy

On March 18th at 2:00am, after three months, several failed attempts, a blizzard, below zero temperatures, accidentally trapping a raccoon, and overwhelming concern for her safety, Pebbles was finally safe! Pebbles is now in her forever home with Rayann (who is going to adopt her!) and all of her doggie siblings. She got a bath, a new collar and tags, and is proudly strutting around showing everyone. A very happy ending to a long adventure for everyone!

Pebbles and Rayann

Pebbles and Rayann — Home At Last!

Thank you Amy for sharing your story!   You and  Steve rock as Good Samaritans!

ANNAPOLIS – A HEARTWARMING STORY OF AN AMAZING REUNION AND A REMINDER TO NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!

Annapolis

Annapolis and Gizmo were playing in their yard in Bureau, Illinois in June of 2013 when they both got out through a hole in their fence. Immediately upon discovering they were missing, their owners, Stefanie and David, ran around to the front of the house only to discover Gizmo standing right there in front of them and Annapolis nowhere to be found! It was if he had vanished into thin air!

Stefanie and David registered their lost dog immediately with Lost Dogs Illinois, and then they set out searching for him. They scoured the neighborhood going door to door and hung flyers everywhere they could think of. They contacted every vet clinic, humane society, and shelter in the area, only to be told he had never been found. Any potential sightings only led to dead ends and disappointment. They even went to local adoption events thinking they would somehow locate him. Yet all their hard work never paid off.

However, his owners never gave up hope! They each had a set of websites that they checked daily that included every humane society, shelter, and animal control facility in the area. They checked craigslist, liked every dog-related Facebook page they could imagine, and they followed up on every lead and every sighting, even going places in person to check if it was their beloved Annapolis.

Then on December 23, 2014 Stefanie was perusing the local shelter pages when she came across a post for a male chiweenie who was up for adoption. He was listed under another name, but she was almost 100% positive this was Annapolis. Once they got a hold of the shelter, Stefanie and David made the hour-long drive to the Henry County Humane Society to see if this was their dog. When they got out of their car, a volunteer was just taking the dog out for a walk. As soon as they saw the dog, they immediately knew this was Annapolis! He came running up to them with his tail wagging as if he knew he had finally been reunited with his owners.

Now that they had finally found him, they wanted to know how he had ended up at the humane society. They were told that the local police had found Annapolis running loose in an industrial area and that no one ever claimed him. He was surrendered to the local no-kill shelter in Henry County and was being prepped for adoption when Stefanie happened upon him on that Tuesday just before Christmas.

Annapolis finally arrived home on January 7th, 2015. He settled in right back into his old routine. It was if he never left!!!!

Stefanie wanted to share a few words of wisdom with those still looking for their lost pets:

“I would of never thought to microchip my pets, I have a fenced in yard and live in a small town, everyone knows everyone and their pets. But now I know you can never be to safe! My dogs now are chipped, collared, and never left unattended in my yard.

When losing a pet you never want to give up hope. Yes it might get hard to believe your pet will be reunited after a month even more after 6 months and after a year your hope might slim but always keep looking never give up, We would of never  found Annapolis if we would of just gave up.”

WELCOME HOME ANNAPOLIS!

Written by Amanda T., LDI volunteer

LadyBird, this is Haven1. Come in LadyBird.


Here at HoundSong we believe in an open door. We have long proselytized the open sharing of what happens from day to day in our rescue. An easy thing when all is good and the stories we share are like handing out warm chocolate chip cookies. Not so easy a thing when we “screw the pooch”. Grab a coffee; kick up your feet, here comes the story of most ridiculous gaffe ever made in the search for lost dog.

ladybirdOn Wednesday, Febuary 5th 2014 LadyBird the Beagle went “missing” from her foster home. LadyBird is an odd cookie. Others have called her a puppy-mill dog. This is somewhat of a misnomer. She was a breeder dog, but not from a puppy mill environment. She does suffer some of the same malady’s common to puppy mill dogs. She is a timid, antisocial, brooding, sort of gal who is not particularly interested in interaction of any sort. She is a “duck and cover” gal. She can hide in plain sight…like a Ninja. LadyBird, the Beagle Ninja.
(…and thinking about it now, if she were a Black Ops Specialist, she even has a cool code name. Haven1, this is LadyBird.
This is Haven1, go ahead LadyBird
I have eyes on the package, are we ROE clear?
Red light! I say again, Red Light!  We are not ROE clear. Hold at Epsilon 1. Cover and observe.
Copy Haven1, hold and cover. Observe but do not engage. LadyBird out.)

LadyBird’s ninja like skills is why, at first, her foster mom did not panic when she seemed to be missing. It is not uncommon to go most of a day and not see, or only have a fleeting glimpse of, LadyBird. In what has become a practiced routine, her foster mom set about a search patrol of all LadyBird’s usual hidey holes. Behind the couch, under the computer desk, behind the toilet, under the bed. One by one these locations were searched and cleared. One by one these locations were empty. After about 4 hours since the last LadyBird sighting, frantic destruction of the entire house began. At 8 hours and a search of the house, yard, and neighborhood, it seemed LadyBird had gone off mission…
LadyBird had gone rogue.

We have been rescuing hounds for 18 years. In those 18 years, the wanderlust of the hound has afforded us a particular set of skills. We have searched for A LOT of dogs. Add to these the dogs for whom we have used the skilled nose of our Bluetick Coonhound, Ranger, to track and locate for other people, and we have spent more hours stooped over muddy prints in the rain and baiting feed stations than I care to count. My point being, we are not amateurs. We know how to get it done. Or so we thought…

posterpicWe spent the next week following our lost dog SOP(Standard Operating Procedure).
Phone calls to authorities – Check.
Fliers and posters – Check.
Boots on the ground (in snow up to our asses) and eyes on task – Check.
…and so on and so forth right down the list.
We followed the procedure, as we had SUCCESSFULLY done a hundred times. My wife, in her usual obsessive manner, drove off an entire oil change up and down every street and alley with her wide, panicked eyes peering into every shadow as though this could be the moment we found her. We tripped and tracked behind every print in the snow as though our hopeful steps would surely lead us to old LadyBird. We did, as we had always done on every search. Only this time nothing happened. Not even a sighting.
In 18 years we have never had that happen. We always had at least a sighting.

By the 5th day we were deeply worried.
On the 6th day, at 10:30PM, LadyBird was found pattering around in the backyard of her foster home as though she had never left.

…and she hadn’t.
She was in the backyard the whole time.

This is what we saw.

I want you to keep in mind we had searched everywhere in the house and yard for LadyBird. We had gone as far as poking snow drifts with a broom handle like we were searching for an avalanche victim.

The foyer to LadyBird's underground bunker

 

LadyBird had made herself an “underground” bunker with a hidden secret entrance that would make the designers of NORAD jealous.

 

Oh look, a hallway.

Peeking into the common use room.

 

She divided her bunker into three areas. A entry, a common area, and sleeping quarters, all joined by a short hallway at 90 degrees to the previous “room”.

 

The sleeping quarters.

 

Here, back far enough where not even the most harsh weather and strongest winds could not reach her, is the sleeping quarters. We found her choker collar here. So cozy a room had she made for herself, while it was about 10 degrees outside, the collar was warm to the touch.

 

Opening holes to the common area and sleeping quarters.

 

What was left after we nuked her bunker.

 

So…
You can laugh at us if you like.
Feel free to call us stupid. You can even accuse us of being irresponsible or remark how unbelievable it is that we left her there…in some of the worst weather “the region” has seen in years…to shiver and suffer in the cold.
Truth is, we have no excuses.
It seems unfathomable that we did not find her hiding, in the snow, under decorative grasses, just 35 feet from the backdoor of her foster home. It seems unfathomable and inexcusable. However, our mistakes are not the moral of this story.

The moral of this story is multifaceted.
1. When searching for a lost dog, never rely on what you “know”. Our experience blinded us. We had searched the yard for LadyBird. Not seeing any tracks or visible sign of her presence (and having poked to death the snow drifts with a broom handle)we wrote it off a possibility. We went about our search thinking like people, rather than like a dog. We approached this search as we had approached a hundred others, seeing it through the eyes of all our previous searches…when we should have tried to approach it using LadyBird’s eyes.
2. Double Check and Triple check. Even if you have searched an area, search it again. Even if your dogs is not hiding under a bush in your own yard, he/she may return near home from time to time.
3. Do not give up. In severe weather (or severe experiences like tornado’s or floods)people have a tendency to assume “Fluffy could just not have lived through that.”  In temperatures as low as -30 degrees, inches upon inches of snow stacking up all over the area, and without a single sighting of her, we were just a day or two from assuming the worst for LadyBird. Nagging in a dark corner of our minds was the thought that LadyBird had been hit by a plow and was buried somewhere under one of the mountainous piles of snow along the roadway.  We were very close to calling it hopeless….for you and I it would have been hopeless. For our animals though…well…when it comes to staying alive they are just smarter.

We post this in the hope that others may learn from our mistake.
Never assume…always look with unfettered eyes…and always know that, in terms of survival, you are not smarter than your dog.

Thank you Darin Lee of RodDar Houndsong Rescue for your honest account of LadyBird’s adventure.

http://www.houndsong.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Houndsong

-Good Ol’ Mugsy

-From the day he was born, Mugsy, a Golden Retriever mix, was a special dog. Nine years ago Elizabeth and Kevin Gerrard adopted his mom only to find out the next day that she was pregnant. Several weeks later Sandy gave birth to seven puppies and all but one were given to good homes. Little Mugsy suffered grand mal seizures and required special care, so Elizabeth and Kevin kept him. Now that Mugsy is a senior, he is taking medications for epilepsy and hypothyroidism and requires frequent visits to his vet.

Mugsy, taking it easy

This is one of the reasons that the Gerrards were so scared when, in April, Mugsy escaped through their storm door. Besides being on medications, they live in an area of  Bloomington, IL near several busy roads and his inability to move quickly would put him in added danger. They immediately searched their neighborhood’s streets and alleys on foot and by car. To their surprise, they realized he must have gotten further than they thought possible. There’s a chance he was hiding really well, as dogs who are frightened often do.

Next, they called Animal Control to give a description of Mugsy; should anyone have found him and turned him in, they would have the Gerrard’s phone number.  They listed his photo and information online, using sites like Craigslist, WJBC’s Pet Hotline , neighborhood association Facebook pages and Lost Dogs Illinois. On our site, they found our Lost Dog Search Action Plan and found the fan interaction very helpful. Our fans are so supportive!

Per a thorough search plan, the Gerrards contacted the Humane Society of Central Illinois as well as all of the vets and animal hospitals in their area. They made posters and hung them everywhere they could think of: stores, gas stations, golf clubhouses, restaurants, apartment complexes, and office buildings. Elizabeth and Kevin drove around for five-to-seven hours every single day searching for their beloved Mugsy.

It wasn’t until a very long 22 days later that they received the call they’d been waiting for. It could have been very good or very bad news. (Sometimes senior dogs and those with health problems can’t make it on the streets for such a long period. Finding food is difficult, being off of medications is dangerous, and a lack of agility navigating busy intersections and highways can unfortunately be fatal.) The caller was an animal control officer who told them he received a report of a dog wandering around near Laesch Dairy, located in a rural area about 20 miles from their home. The officer drove to pick up the dog and  he matched Mugsy’s description!

When Elizabeth picked Mugsy up from the animal control facility, they say he was “very happy to see her,” but, he didn’t look very good; it was clear he’d had a rough time in the wild. He had burrs in his hair, one of his eyes was red and swollen, and he was visibly skinnier. Elizabeth immediately took Mugsy to the vet- which they say he didn’t mind at all as he was accustomed to going there- where they removed his burrs, gave him prescription eye drops, and weighed him. He lost 10 pounds total, which wasn’t actually the worst thing in the world; he had been slightly overweight.

Once home, the Gerrards describe his behavior as “very clingy.” He obviously missed his family while gone and was afraid to leave their side.  He couldn’t seem to get enough water, but they kept him on his medication regimen and they say he’s “starting to be his old self again.” Now Mugsy is well on his way to rehabilitation and the Gerrards have put safeguards in place such as installing a gate at the end of their front porch as an extra layer of security in case he makes his way out again. Also, they’ve ordered a GPS device which will allow the couple to track him on their computer and phone if he somehow gets lost again. It seems the Gerrards are doing everything in their power to ensure Mugsy spends the rest of his years by their side, right where he belongs.

Brinkles, and the Power of Facebook Fans

Stephanie was at work when her husband called. “I lost our daughter,” he said in a panic. Mark was referring to their lab mix, Brinkles, who’d been in their family seven years- since she was a puppy. “I had to calm him down and reassure him that Brinkles was okay and that we would find her,” said Stephanie.

The beautiful Brinkles

Mark was calling from Montrose Dog Beach on Chicago’s North Side. Brinkles and their other dog, Charlie loved playing at the beach. Chicago Park District’s first legal off-leash beach, it is very popular and quite busy- especially in the mornings. Stephanie and Mark took them there weekly in the summer and at least monthly in the colder months.

That particular day, Charlie had escaped to the neighboring beach, restricted to people only (The dog beach is gated and fenced on two sides- the lake being the third. But there are ways for sneaky dogs to get out.) Mark chased after Charlie, assuming Brinkles was at his side.

Meanwhile, a woman named Eileen saw Brinkles hanging out near the gate, looking for a way out. She asked around to see if she belonged to anybody. The dog beach has a rule about dog owners remaining with and watching their dogs at all times, so she thought Brinkles may have been abandoned. Out of concern for her well-being, Eileen took her home to keep safe while she made efforts online to find an owner.

After wrangling Charlie, Mark came back to the beach area, getting ready to take the dogs home, when he noticed Brinkles was missing. He too talked to people nearby and they told him about a woman who left with the dog but they didn’t know her name or how to reach her. That’s when Mark called Stephanie and set a plan in motion to get her back as quickly as possible.

Mark raced to Stephanie’s work and they immediately went to the city pound- Chicago Animal Care and Control. On the way there, Stephanie used her phone to post an ad on Craigslist– a common place for lost and found dog ads. When they had no luck at the pound, they turned back home to brainstorm more methods of finding Brinkles. Stephanie got on the computer and had a message waiting from someone who saw her Craigslist ad. They didn’t have any information about their dog, but told her about Lost Dogs Illinois.

It had been three hours since Brinkles went missing when Stephanie filled out the Lost Dog Report on LDI and we posted it on our wall. Our fan network responded with a quickness; one of them referred her to the Montrose Dog Beach’s Facebook page. Sure enough, there was a picture of Brinkles that had been posted by Eileen. Stephanie and Mark were ecstatic.

The day after she went missing, Brinkles was home safe and sound with her parents and brother Charlie. Stephanie remembers, “She was thrilled to be home and went straight to her food bowl to chow down.” After that, the family cuddled on the couch all day.

If it weren’t for the network of kind strangers who went out of their way- Eileen, an unknown Good Samaritan on Craigslist, and a very clever LDI fan- who knows where Brinkles would be now. “Thank God for nice people,” says Stephanie. And to the LDI Facebook community, she has a special message: “Thank you all for your help in getting our girl home…you all are amazing!”

Rocky’s Story – His Family Never Gave Up!

–March 26, 2012 is a date Jill Grover and her family will never forget. What started as a typical Thursday morning turned into a nightmare when Jill let her dogs Rocky- a bright white German Shepherd mix- and Zuess- a Husky- into the fenced yard of their Springfield home. About 5 minutes later she had a bad feeling when they didn’t come clawing at the door like they usually do. “I knew something was not right,” remembers Jill.
Jill looked around the yard and, to her horror, both dogs were missing. Careful to always keep the gates shut, their escape was a mystery. (Jill’s husband, Fred later figured out that when their neighbors put up a new fence, they neglected to tell the Grovers that theirs had been broken in the process. The dogs must have escaped through the hole.)

Immediately, Jill, Fred, and their daughter, Alexis frantically searched the neighborhood. One-year-old Rocky was shy and skittish, they didn’t imagine him getting very far. Zuess, the more outgoing of the two, would be more likely to approach people. Sure enough, about two hours into the neighborhood search, Jill and Alexis saw Zuess running happily alongside a garbage truck trying to get the garbage collectors’ attention. Relieved and optimistic, they ran to the spot where the driver said he spotted both dogs before Zuess began chasing them. Unfortunately, Rocky wasn’t still there.

The family continued the search for Rocky, giving out their phone numbers and a description of the dog to neighbors. “We talked to everyone that would listen,” said Jill. That night she posted ads on Lost Dogs Illinois and Craigslist. The family printed flyers and hung them miles away: at golf courses, at parks, and walls of buildings. They went to the local pound and checked back every single day after that.

Right away, they started getting phone calls, and so began a wild goose chase. Someone called from 4 miles away, but when Jill raced there she couldn’t find Rocky. The Grovers followed up on every tip, each time ending in defeat. Jill said if they weren’t at work, they were searching for their missing family member.

One week turned into three and the family was exhausted. One particularly devastating night, Jill received a phone call at 10:30 pm from someone who said they saw Rocky on the interstate. Terrified and dreading the worst, they raced to the location and drove up and down the surrounding roads, still, no sign of Rocky. Yet somehow the Grovers still didn’t give up hope.

After so many unsuccessful tips, Jill thought to reach out to the local media. She wrote an email to Springfield’s State Journal-Register telling her harrowing tale of the search for Rocky. Like most newspapers, the SJ-R told Jill they couldn’t publish her story as an article. The sad truth is that there are so many missing dogs, the task of running such stories would be overwhelming (which is why Lost Dogs Illinois is here!). They did, however, post a notice  in their Pet Zone section, notifying readers that they could use the Pet Zone Facebook page as a place to advertise lost and found dogs.

Things started to gain momentum one Friday when Fred received a call from a woman named Meg who said she had seen Rocky in the woods on her property, five miles from the Grovers’ home. She said that every morning a big white dog came out to play with her dog. Meg saw Rocky’s picture on Lost Dogs Illinois and then on Pet Zone, and called the phone number listed. She texted them pictures she took of Rocky on his morning visits. Finally seeing a picture of Rocky alive and well, the Grovers were elated.

As soon as Jill got off work, she raced to Meg’s home. She searched the three-and-a-half acres to no avail. Fred came out later with Zuess to use him as a lure, but that didn’t work. Fred decided they weren’t going to capture Rocky without a cage. They went home and rigged one with boards and wire that would trigger and trap Rocky if he walked in. At dusk, they went back to the woods to set it up, baiting the trap with toys and a blanket from home as well as food. It started to rain, and before they turned to leave, Jill saw Rocky in the distance. She knew this method was going to work.

Saturday morning Jill and Fred drove back to the woods to check the trap, and sadly, Rocky wasn’t in it. It had been almost four weeks since losing him and this was the closest they’d been, so there was no way they would stop trying. They checked in on the trap periodically all weekend. Finally, at 8am Sunday morning Meg called to deliver the news they had been so desperately waiting for. They caught Rocky in the cage. “Like a crazy person, I drive out there and sure enough, there was my Rocky!” remembers Jill. “[He] was soaked to the bone, dirty, and a mess, but very happy to see his mommy.”

The Grovers immediately took the much skinnier dog to the family vet. He had lost 20 lbs, had sores on his paws and was covered in ticks; all expected from a month in the wild. He is now on medications and his progress will continue to be followed by the vet. With time and much-needed attention from his family, they expect a full recovery. Rocky is finally reunited with his brother Zuess and bathed back to his bright white coat.

All throughout the month-long emotional rollercoaster, the Grovers never ever stopped trying to find Rocky. The long days and nights were worth it and their hard work paid off. Jill is very happy to report, “We are a happy family again!”