Finding your lost dog

Two hours before writing this, I returned home from searching for my daughter’s lost dog. Her family had moved to a new area recently and the dog has not had time to become familiar with the new area other than his own yard.

As we prepared to find him we realized we did not have some items that would be useful in our search. Here are a few things a pet owner can do to help in finding a lost pet.

Take pictures of your dog- not only the pretty pictures, but also those of the dog when wet or in different style cuts you may keep him in. (do you shave him down or keep him in a shorter cut during the summer months?)

Microchip your pet. Most Veterinarians are equipped to perform this simple procedure.

Tattoo your pet. Not all Vets are prepared for this. You may want to contact The National Dog Registry or Tattoo-a-Pet for guidance. Of course, have I.D. tags with the pets name, your name, address and phone# engraved. Attach these securely to his collar.

Property training- teach him the limits of his yard.

Teach him to come to a whistle, bell or some other familiar sound. Many of these sounds can travel farther than your voice, and after prolonged calling the voice tires or becomes horse.

Take your dog for short walks- at the turn around point tell him “go home”, and go directly home. Do this many times and from different directions. Then begin to let the dog lead you home (at the end of a leash). This can also be handy if a stranger tells him to “go home”.

When you begin your search:

Put up and hand out flyers. Banks, grocery stores, gas stations and parks. Encase your flyers in plastic to protect from wind and rain. USE LARGE LETTERS.

Put an ad in your local newspapers.

Familiar areas may draw your dog- if you live in an area of all brick homes or you frequent a park, he may be near a similar area. Where would you go if you were lost?

Animals are more active in the morning and late afternoon/early evening during the summer. If it’s a hot day check in shaded or low lying areas where it is cooler. In winter, check areas of brighter sunlight or places sheltered from the wind. Use your eyes- look under and around, if your dog is frightened he may be hiding and may not readily recognize you.

Contact the local Veterinarians, pet shelters, animal control and even your mailman. Check with these sources daily. These are busy folks and may easily forget or be unable to get back with you immediately. Also contact your local pet groomers- someone may find your dog and take them to a groomer to remove ticks and fleas or simply to clean the pet.

Use a happy or positive voice as you call for your pet. When calling, (or whistling or bell ringing) stay in one place for 10 or 20 minutes. Dogs can hear loud sounds for a great distance and it may take some time for him to get to you.

If you live in a rural area, try staking an old shirt or other item with your scent on it at ground level, perhaps on a hilltop (so the scent will travel). DO NOT leave food as this will mistakenly attract any animal. When you return, does the item look pawed at or slept on? Refresh this item daily. This may be a long shot, but what do you have to lose by trying?

I’m happy to report that we found the little guy! After three days he had made it a mile and a half away from home! He was lying on a gravel patch next to a lake under a shade tree. (similar to the road in front of his home.) I don’t think he fully recognized me at first but he did seem to recognize my car, as he made a bee-line to hop in to the front seat. Naturally we are very thankful and fortunate. In hindsight, our quest may have been easier and quicker had we prepared by following a few simple guidelines.