Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing Lucy’s story.
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing Lucy’s story.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last year we were honored to present a free webinar for ASPCA Pro that included a lot of helpful information for shelters and owners for dogs that go missing after the fireworks on the 4th of July. Please feel free to share this link.
“In preparation for July 4, experts from Lost Dogs Illinois and Lost Dogs of Wisconsin will give you practical advice to offer support, resources, and tips to worried families searching for their lost dogs. Teaching people how to find their lost pets and avoid common mistakes can avoid heartbreak for many people and animals.
This free, 60-minute webinar will benefit staff and volunteers from any animal welfare agency.”
Click this link to view the webinar slides and access the webinar recording: http://www.aspcapro.org/webinar/2014-06-18/fireworks-rto
Lost Dogs of America and HelpingLostPets.com are pleased to be presenting at the upcoming 2015 Best Friends National Conference in Atlanta July 16-19.
Our joint presentation “The Way Back Home: Reuniting Pets with Their People” will provide proven strategies to assist shelters and volunteer groups to increase their Return to Owner rates (RTO).
For more information about the conference and register, please visit:http://conference.bestfriends.org
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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.
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!
Thank you Amy for sharing your story! You and Steve rock as Good Samaritans!
The idea of using a tracking dog to find a lost dog is very compelling, but most people who pursue this option do not have a good understanding of how a tracking (or trailing) dog works. In some cases a tracking dog CAN provide useful information for locating a lost dog such as confirming sightings or establishing a direction of travel. However, very few lost dogs are actually found and captured during the search (i.e. a “walk-up find”), which is what most people are hoping for when they hire a tracking dog team.
What many people do not consider is that there are actually some cases when you should NOT try to use a tracking dog to find a lost dog. In these situations a tracking dog is not only a waste of money, but they can actually be detrimental to finding and catching the lost dog. The situations where you should not use a tracking dog to find a lost dog include most cases where there are multiple sightings of the lost dog in a general area, and the dog is running in fear from everyone. This most often occurs with newly adopted dogs and skittish lost dogs. However, even an otherwise friendly dog can enter what is known as “survival mode” (where they run from all people including those that they know) if they are lost in a frightening situation (such as a car crash) or if they are on the run for several days, especially if people attempt to chase or capture them. Sometimes these lost dogs will run for several miles (1-5 is common and 10 or more miles is not unheard of), but in most cases the lost dog will eventually settle down in a place where they feel safe. Generally this safe place is somewhere with food, water, shelter, and (very importantly) where people are not attempting to approach or catch them. In some cases the lost dog will actually circle around and come back to close to where they went missing.
If you you get multiple sighting (even 2-3) of the lost dog in a general area (hopefully less than 1 mile apart), then the lost dog has likely found a safe place to hide out. The last thing that you want to do in this situation is chase the dog out of his newly found haven. If you use a tracking dog, they may help you find out where your dog has been taking shelter and getting food, but in the process you may scare your dog out of the safe place. Likewise, it is a very bad idea to have human search teams go into this area and look for the lost dog, especially if it is a wooded area. Even if they see the dog, they are most likely going to scare him out of the area. In either of these situations, the lost dog may feel pressured to leave the area and find a new safe place, perhaps miles away.
In these types of cases, it is very important to leave the dog alone and encourage others to report sightings, but not to approach or attempt to catch the dog. Most of these dogs are ultimately caught using lure and capture techniques such as feeding stations, calming signals, surveillance cameras and/or humane traps.
Thank you Danielle of Lost Pet Research and Recovery for giving us permission to use her article.
Baby, it’s Cold Outside – Keep Your Dog Safe
With the weather becoming blustery, dog owners might consider the following safety tips:
Bundle up and enjoy!