Tag Archives: sightings

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.

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.

Luring a Shy, Lost Dog Using a Portable Grill

grillingforbryleeUsing a portable grill can be very helpful in catching a shy, scared dog. If you are getting sightings of your dog in a general area, we recommend setting up a feeding station. This can help to keep a lost dog in one area and eventually lead to capture. However, sometimes it is difficult to get a lost dog to find the feeding station. Grilling meats with a portable grill can help!

The smell of bacon or bratwurst cooking on a grill is very strong. Humans can pick up the scent of grilled meats when someone in the neighborhood is grilling out. Which means a hungry dog can also pick up that yummy, tempting scent, but from an even greater distance since dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans.

When you are grilling for a shy, lost dog, you must do it very quietly. You do not want to scare him out of the area. Pick a location near to where your dog’s sightings have been, but make sure it is an area that is people-free and safe for your dog (away from roadways, train tracks and thawing ponds). If your sightings have been consistent and you suspect that your dog is using a regular path of travel, then we recommend grilling near that pathway. This can improve your chances of your dog finding the tempting food. It is also important to get permission from the landowner to grill on their property. Make sure to read and abide by the grilling instructions included with your portable grill. Never leave a grill unattended.

Once you choose the location and receive permission from the owner of the property – you can begin. It is best to only have ONE person grilling to prevent your dog from getting scared away by the sounds of your voices. Remember, for a shy, lost dog – two’s a crowd! Once your grill is set up and the meat is cooking, quietly sit in the area for as long as it takes to cook. When the meat is cooked, you can place it on the ground or in your dog’s dish. If possible, set up a trail camera facing the grilled food, so you will know who has stopped by to eat and when (set the time/date function on the camera).

Don’t be disappointed if your dog does not find the food within 24 hours. Just grill quietly again the next day and leave the area. If your dog is seen eating the grilled food, it is important to continue to keeep yummy, tempting food at this location. He or she will be sure to stop by again for more. Once you know that your dog is coming to this feeding station on a regular basis, you can consider setting up a humane live trap near the food. Please see our articles on humane trapping for details.

Good luck and happy grilling! Remember, your lost dog is depending on YOU to bring him safely home.

Colleen Duero, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin Volunteer

Harnessing the Energy – Part 4

feeding station

Your team of volunteers has worked hard at flyering and posting signs and now you’re getting some sightings! This article will cover what we have found to be the best method for handling these.

The point person should keep a sighting  journal. It is hard to remember all of the details from a phone call. Something that may seem insignificant at first may become very significant as time goes on.  So most importantly, get the name and phone number of the caller, so that you can call back with any extra questions!

Ask the right questions and make detailed notes.

1. Where did you see the dog? Ask them to please be specific. For example: the dog was going north on Ash street toward the Bay City Mall.  On the other side of the street was Walmart.

2. When did you see the dog? What was the weather like? Again, ask for specifics. Example: The dog was seen at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 5th.  It was raining at the time.

3. Can you describe the dog? Was he wearing a collar? What color was the collar? Did he seem okay?

4. What was he doing? Was he trotting, running, darting in and out of traffic, sleeping, playing with other dogs, walking calmly, etc?

5. How was he carrying his body and tail? Was he low to the ground, almost crawling? Was his tail up or down or waggin?

Record all of these details in your journal and then post the sightings to a  map. You can use an old-fashioned paper map or you can use an interactive google or Mapquest map that you can share with your volunteers.   We recommend that you NEVER share this or any sighting information  with the public.

The number one cause of death of lost dogs is that they panic and run into traffic and are killed by a car. When you post sighting locations – you are encouraging reward seekers, wanna be heroes, and overzealous people from rushing to the location and frightening the dog.

Remember, the whole goal now is to let the scared lost dog settle in the area. Then you can implement a plan to catch him (trapping, luring, etc.). But if you are constantly pressuring the dog, he will keep moving, and you will always be behind him. You will have to keep flyering more and more areas and this will be draining on your volunteers. Remember that most of your volunteers have full time jobs, and their own families and dogs to look after. You will need to respect their time and maximize their efforts.

Make sure that your volunteers understand that the goal is to allow the dog to settle in an area. They must change their mindset from “searching” to “luring”.  You wouldn’t try to chase and catch a feral cat. You start feeding a cat in one location and then you trap them. You will use this same approach for a scared, missing dog.

After you get off the phone with the caller, immediately gather the necessary supplies and head to the location. The person most bonded to the dog (if it isn’t you) should also go. But you do not want a large group. You will need:

  • smelly treats (think hotdogs, liverwurst, canned cat food)
  • water and bowls
  • slip lead, regular leash and collar
  • flyers
  • trail camera (or fireplace ashes or cornstarch)

When you arrive at the sighting location:

  • Don’t slam the car door!
  • Stay calm – the dog will feel your nervous energy and may take off again. He could be in hiding watching you.
  • If you see the dog (possible but not probable):
  • The person who is most bonded with the dog should sit or lie down by themselves and scatter tasty treats around themselves and WAIT. It may take minutes or hours for the dog to creep slowly towards them. The dog may circle around and approach from behind. Put your phone on silent and don’t talk on it. Everybody else should leave the area.

If you do not see the dog:

Don’t waste time driving around.

Immediately go door to door and flyer – speaking with everyone. Call in more volunteers to help with this.

If no one is home – leave a flyer that you have handwritten on: SEEN! 4 p.m. May 31 at the edge of your property or corner of this block or across from the Walgreens.  Be specific so the home owner knows to keep a look out. Make sure your flyers clearly state the nobody should call or chase the dog. Just call with sightings.

Before leaving the sighting area:

Leave food and water! Anything except dry kibble (which doesn’t have an odor). Again, think smelly, scrumptious food. If you have a trail camera set it up facing the food so that you can see if the dog is approaching and eating when you aren’t there. . If you don’t have a trail camera, sprinkle fireplace ashes or cornstarch around the bowls so that you can examine the area for tracks when you return.

Remember, when the lost dog’s needs are being met:

He will start to let down his guard.

He will start to trust people and return to a domesticated state of mind.

Your chances of safely capturing him are greatly increased.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss a sighting.  Most sightings are legitimate. People describe dogs differently so don’t dismiss a sighting because the description does not match exactly.  Remember, that the public may not know dog breeds or sizes like you do. They may call an American Eskimo Dog a Samoyed.  Or a shepherd mix a husky. Assume that every sighting is legitimate, unless absolutely proven otherwise,  and mark it on the map. Dogs can travel great distances very fast, especially if they have been pursued. They may be using shortcuts that you aren’t aware of. Don’t assume that a sighting is too far away to be your dog. You will be able to use your map to give you clues to your dog’s paths and patterns.

Next, we will discuss common pitfalls and mistakes that are often made when a rescue is searching for one of their foster or newly adopted dogs. We will try to give you some advice to avoid these pitfalls.

See part 5  http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/harnessing-the-energy-part-5-common-pitfalls/

Previous article http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/harnessing-the-energy-part-3/

Harnessing The Energy – Part 3

Two Illinois based rescues joined together to facilitate Ellie, shy foster dog, return. 30 days later Ellie was trapped.

Effectively coordinating your volunteers in the search for a lost dog is what we call “harnessing the energy”.  When everybody is on the same team and pulling in the same direction, great things can happen.  When the efforts are scattered and fragmented, volunteers will get frustrated and the search can end badly.

This article will focus on the steps to help your rescue or shelter’s volunteers work effectively as a team to generate sightings of the missing dog.

First and foremost – please make sure that you have done the Five Things to Do If You Have Lost Your Dog. Putting scent items and food at the spot where the dog went missing from will help keep him in the area – even if he is unfamiliar with the location.

1. Assign one “point person”.  Preferably this is the person that is most bonded with the lost dog (the owner or foster parent) and with the biggest emotional committment to the process. The point person must be a responsible individual with the time required to be able to answer EVERY phone call and go to every sighting location.  The point person must be dedicated to the process for the days, weeks or months that it might require to successfully catch the dog.

2. Use a phone number on the flyer that will be answered promptly. Do not use a shelter phone number that won’t be answered during closed hours. Do not use an automated voice system or answering service. Many people who see your dog won’t call again. They will try ONCE. If you miss the opportunity to speak with them, you may never get another chance and you might miss valuable information about your dog’s location. Do not rely on texting. Callers need to hear your voice and your emotional commitment to the dog. This will encourage them to keep helping you.

3. Change the message on your phone to include a message about the missing dog. If the caller reaches an ordinary voice message, he may hang up and not try again. The caller must know they’ve reached the correct number to report a sighting.

4. Do NOT offer a reward for the missing dog.  In our experience, this is almost always a bad idea. Rewards encourage people to chase the dog, possibly into oncoming traffic. A dog that is being pursued for a reward will not settle and will become more and more elusive and possibly move out of the area altogether. Then you will have to start all over in a new location.  You want sightings of the dog so that you can implement a plan to catch him safely. Rewards are counterproductive to this effort because you will not be able to pay a reward for each sighting.

5. In the early hours of the dog going missing; rescue volunteers may panic and want to rush to a sighting location to “search”.  This is almost always a bad idea. Their energy should be used for quickly flyering the area – going door to door and trying to speak to as many people as possible and leaving a flyer in their hands.  Searching for a shy lost dog will chase the dog out of the area and possibly into the path of traffic.  Or the dog may go into hiding, reducing sightings and prolonging the search. Your goal is to let the shy lost dog settle, without the pressure of being pursued. You will have a much greater chance of catching him.

6. The point person should be organized and ready to distribute maps and flyers to the volunteers.  Use a Rubbermaid tub in a central location to store flyers, maps and supplies. Then anyone with some time to spare can do some flyering without duplicating efforts.

7.  Don’t congregate noisily in an area to flyer. Don’t slam car doors. The dog may be hidden somewhere nearby watching you. Too much activity may frighten him into leaving the area.  Flyer in groups of two for safety, but be quiet and calm.

8. Pace your volunteers. Make sure they understand that this could take weeks or months. Volunteers will be needed to flyer after every sighting, to make and move signs, to update Craigslist, radio, and  newspaper ads and to keep notifying vet clinics, shelters, etc.

9. Try to keep everyone “in the loop” so they feel useful and engaged. Consider using a closed Facebook group for the volunteers to keep everyone informed. Stay positive. Negativity won’t help and will probably prolong the search. Don’t waste any time in assigning blame for how or why the dog went missing. This does nothing to help find the dog and will decrease the morale of the team.

Next, we’ll focus on the best way to respond when you get your sighting calls.

Part 4  http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/harnessing-the-energy-part-4/

Previous Article http://www.lostdogsillinois.org/harnessing-the-energy-part-2/

I Got A Sighting! Now What? Part 5 of a series

Toby is a shy Australian shepherd, spooked by the July 4th fireworks from a house other than his own. He bolted and has not been seen since. He has four of thefive risk factors that will make him an elusive dog to catch. You have enlisted the help of friends and family, not to “search” for Toby; but to help implement the steps of Five Things To Do If You Have Lost Your Dog.

And it worked! You got your first phone call! Time to rush out there with all your friends and bring Toby home! Right? Wrong…. Not so fast. Make sure you read and understand these steps thoroughly BEFORE you get that first sighting call. Because how you handle sightings can mean the difference between a successful recovery, or the failure to capture Toby safely.

Get yourself a small bound notebook to keep all of your sighting information in. This will be your Sighting Journal and you need to have it handy at all times. You never know when you will need to add to your notes or refer back to them. Just like a good police officer takes notes, so does an effective lost dog owner. Keep a printed map of the area with your sighting journal. Even though you may transfer your map information to Google Maps or Mapquest (more on this later) – it is useful to be able to quickly refer to a map when you are on the phone with a sighting.

Make it EASY for people to call you. Answer the phone on the first or second ring. If it has to go to voicemail – change your voice mail message so that the caller knows they have dialed the right number. Dogs lost from shelters, rescues, vet clinics or boarding facilities should not use their regular office line. This is confusing to callers and when the facility is closed, the call will be several hours old before it is received, wasting valuable time. People with sightings will usually only make one attempt to call you – make sure you get that call!

Be prepared to ask the right questions and get the correct information. Many owners get overly excited and in an attempt to rush to the sighting location, they forget to ask important questions. Make sure you get the name and phone number of the caller so that you can call back if you need more details or have forgotten something.

Think of this as an interview, ask questions and listen. Ask the following:

  1. Where did you see my dog? Ask them to be specific. For example: the dog was going north on Ash Street towards the Bay City Mall. On the other side of the street was Walmart.
  2. When did you see my dog? Again, ask them to be specific.  The dog was seen at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 7th.
  3. What was the weather like when you saw my dog?
  4. Can you describe my dog?
  5. What was he doing? Was he trotting, running, darting in and out, sleeping, playing with other dogs, walking, etc?
  6. Was he wearing a collar? What color is the collar? Did he seem okay?
  7. How was he carrying his body and tail? Was he low to the ground – almost like crawling? Was his tail up or down? Was it wagging?
  8. Thank the caller and ask if it is okay if you call them back if you think of something else.

After each sighting – post it on the map. These sightings will help determine where to continue to pass out flyers and post signs; set up a feeding station and trail camera; and possibly set a trap.

You NEVER want to disclose a sighting location publicly – on a Facebook page, in a blog, or to the media. Keep the location confidential because wanna-be heroes, reward seekers, and curious people can derail your plans very fast. Then you will be picking up and starting all over again. It is very frustrating and easier to avoid problems by keeping the details confidential.

Next, you want to visit the location. But again, preparation is everything. Make sure you take everything with you that you need including:

  1. Your sighting journal
  2. Your cell phone (set to vibrate only)
  3. A stack of flyers
  4. Smelly food (small cans or containers of pop-top cat or dog food work great) Do not use dry kibble. It doesn’t have enough odor.
  5. Water jug and a small bowl for water
  6. Familiar scented articles (your dirty sock)
  7. Smelly dog treats that you can put in your pocket
  8. A leash and collar
  9. A trail camera and supplies if you have one already (more on this in a future article)

When you arrive at the location, don’t slam the car door! Stay calm, if your dog feels your nervous energy, he may take off again. Make sure that if you have a helper with you, they also understand how important this is. It is your job as the owner, to keep control of the situation and to keep your emotions in check.

Never have a large group convene at a sighting location. You may need friends to help you deliver more flyers shortly – but have everyone meet at a coffee shop or other location, away from the sighting.

IF you see your dog – possible, but not probable: sit or lay down on the ground by yourself and scatter tasty treats around you and WAIT quietly.  It may take minutes or hours for the dog to creep towards you. You have to be patient. Any sudden moves will very likely send him fleeing again.

If you don’t see your dog – (very likely), don’t waste time driving around looking for him. Open a small can of cat or dog food and put it in a safe location away from the road. In hot weather, also put a bowl of water nearby. Then immediately begin to go door to door and flyer – speaking with everyone. If one person saw your dog, it is very likely that somebody else did also, and you may get some more information. Don’t just put these flyers in the newspaper boxes. Knock on every door and talk to someone.

If no one is home – leave a flyer at the door that you have written on: SEEN! 10 a.m. July 7th “right across the street” or “corner of this block” or “edge of your property”.  This will give the homeowner the sense of urgency that your dog is very close. Or course, your flyers have already been printed with the words, “Do Not Chase or Call” on it, right? And you aren’t offering a reward, right? Both of these steps are very important for the shy dog or the dog that has been lost from a stressful situation because the LAST thing you want people to do is to chase your dog out of the area in their attempt to catch them.

Before you leave a sighting location, check back on the food and water you have left. Has it been touched? If not, you are going to set up a feeding station: a fancy name for a blob of smelly food on the ground and a bowl of water. Try to replenish this twice a day.  If your dog has been in the area once, it is very likely he will return and you want to encourage him to stay in one area. Leave just a small quantity, it should be enough to keep the dog from leaving the area, but don’t overfeed him! You want him to visit the feeding station regularly.

Pat yourself on the back and go home and write more notes. Transfer your sighting to an online map and rest. You have done a good job with your first sighting and now you have a point of reference to start from.

Next, we will talk about monitoring your feeding station effectively.  Part 6

Our tips, ideas and articles are based on information gathered from over thousands of successful lost dog recoveries. Any advice or suggestions made by Lost Dogs of Wisconsin/Lost Dogs Illinois is not paid-for professional advice and should be taken at owner’s discretion.

Google Maps – A Useful Tool for an Elusive Dog

You’ve lost your shy dog and you’ve done a good job delivering flyers and posting intersection signs. Now your sightings are coming in but you’re having a hard time keeping track. The sightings seem to be all over the place. It couldn’t possibly be your dog, in so many places, in such a short amount of time. Or could it?

Lost dogs in survival mode require three things. They require food and water, hiding places, and avoidance of predators (people).  If you use maps and satellite photos to assess food sources, hiding places and safe, secluded routes of travel; you may start to see a pattern emerge. Using an online mapping service is an invaluable tool to help you record and evaluate your sightings.

Google Maps is a free web mapping service that can help you plot your sightings and give you  clues to your dog’s whereabouts. Be aware though, that Google maps and satellite images are not updated in real time, they could be several months or years old. New construction may not appear on the maps and photos. Buildings and landscapes change and you will have to take that into consideration. Photos are taken during different seasons. Summer photos will appear very different from photos taken in the same area in the autumn after the leaves have fallen.

Different areas of the country have satellite photos taken at different resolutions. Generally, the more populated the area – the better the photo, and the closer that you will be able to zoom in and see detail. Many urban and suburban areas also now have Street View – a setting that lets you see buildings and landmark features as if you were standing on the ground in front of them.

This blog isn’t a tutorial on how to use Google maps. There is plenty of information on-line. Instead, we want to give you some specific tips on how to determine where your dog may be. The best way to learn how to use Google Maps is to dive in and try it. Enter the address where your dog went missing from. Practice changing from map to satellite (aerial photo) view, and zooming in and out.

Practice adding place markers for the following. Use different colors and symbols for:

  • Locations where your dog went missing from
  • Every sighting with a time and date
  • Areas flyered
  • Sign locations
  • Potential food sources
  • Potential hiding places
  • Potential routes that your dog is traveling

Switch to satellite view. Objects viewed from the air appear different from the ground.  Practice somewhere  you are familiar with. What do these things look like from the air?

Common landmarks:

A golf course:

A cemetery:

 

A shopping mall:

 

A mobile home park:

 

Vertical  landmarks from the ground may not be easily apparent on a satellite photo.  Watch for the shadows made by the objects. Vertical landmarks include:

  • Water towers
  • Power lines
  • Church steeples
  • Cell phone towers
  • Tall buildings
  • Doppler radar sites

 

A water tower in satellite imagery. It looks like a golf ball, but notice the shadow that it casts

Look for possible hiding places that lost dogs commonly use:

  • abandoned farms and homes
  • cemeteries
  • golf courses
  • parks near populated areas
  • industrial areas
  • run down neighborhoods
  • quiet suburban neighborhoods especially if they adjoin parks and trails

Look for possible routes of travel that lost dogs commonly use:

  • bike and hiking trails
  • fence lines and the edge of fields
  • logging roads
  • power lines
  • pipelines and cut lines
  • railroad tracks

Be aware that narrow roads, trails,  and power lines may “disappear” in summer photos because of tree foliage. Railroad tracks are usually very apparent in photos because of the width of clearing around the track bed. Trees do not usually overhang train tracks.

Look for possiblefood sources:

  • restaurants and hotels
  • farms (cat food, corn and spilled grain)
  • convenience stores and grocery stores
  • campgrounds, picnic grounds, rest stops and parks
  • golf courses with food services
  • food processing plants
  • feed mills

Keep your Google map updated and share it via email link with the friends, family and volunteers that are helping you. Lost dogs will often fall into an habitual pattern, visiting the same food sources and using the same hiding places and routes of travel. Flyer these areas heavily to get more sightings. Place intersection signs strategically so that passersby will also be on the lookout for your dog.

You may realize that sightings that seemed impossible at first, really are possible when you view them from the air. Driving routes are often much longer than the routes that lost dogs will take. Using shortcuts, they can travel what appears to be a long distance in a short amount of time.

Advances in technology are giving us more and more tools in the toolbox of lost dog recovery. Using Google Maps can save you valuable time when recovering your lost dog.

A tutorial showing how to create a Google map and drop markers to help you organize an effective search for a dog created by Retrievers Volunteer Lost Dog Team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQRfKf2gb4k