Friday, July 14, 2006

So, your pet has gone missing....

This happens a lot around July 4, when dogs or cats get freaked by fireworks.
Someone (Margot, thanks!) posted this great article to our yahoogroup on getting a lost pet back. It's worth bookmarking, just in case.

Years ago I was hiking with Bosco and Phoebe, a friend, and her Rottie in the Colorado mountains. The dogs were all off leash, we hiked tons and they were really good about staying with us. But. A herd of mule deer - like maybe 50 of them - spooked on a hillside and ran. The Rottweilers did a short chase and came back. Phoebe the Nottweiler was off over hill and dale chasing them. We called and looked and waited until dark, no Phoebe. She was gone for 5 days and it was a fulltime job looking for her! Flyers everywhere - with vets, posted all over, visiting and leaving a description with shelters, calling highway patrol asking about hit dogs on the highway, going door to door around the park trailhead. Friends and I walked all over the trails, calling her. We tried to follow tracks in the snow, but there were so many coyotes and other hikers, it was impossible.
After several days, I got a call from a park ranger - they'd seen a big dog hanging around the trailhead parking lot but she wouldn't let anyone near. I spent a day hanging out there, but she never showed.
Got her back in a March snowstorm the 5th day...I had Bosco and a backpack with peanut butter sandwiches, dog food and water and figured I'd hike that damn mountain from dawn to nightfall. Snow was falling in big flakes and we were going up the trail and all of a sudden a shadow-dog in the distance in the snow - Phoebe! I called her and she raced at us and actually leapt into my arms (80lbs of dog) and I swear I cried and hugged her so hard...She was skinny as hell and tired, but otherwise fine. She slept for about two days straight when I got her home.

Both my dogs now are microchipped and have collar tags. There's more chase-able wildlife here in MI, so there's only a few places I let them run offleash - never around woods because there's so many deer. They go regularly to a deserted park by the Flint River, far from any large roads or woods to run, because I think it's important to let dogs run and "be dogs" sometimes. Sometimes we drive up to Bluebell Beach state park early in the morning - there's a half-mile long, wide beach for them to run along.
Because I live in a dodgy part of the city, they are never left outside when I'm not home even though I have a 6' privacy fence, with a gate that is latched both inside and out. I know they wouldn't let anyone climb over the fence - and I can't imagine anyone dumb enough to try, with two Rottweilers in the yard! But you never know.
A few years ago there was an article in the paper - apparently a rash of dogs were being stolen when left outside unattended within an invisible fence. Who knows what for - pitbull bait? Breeding stock?
Elvis the cat does go in and out at will - he was a street cat for who knows how long; he would be really miserable if I tried to keep him trapped in the house. Cats tend to keep to fairly small territories, and Elvis is street smart. Luckily I am on a short street - almost impossible to speed - and several blocks from traffic. He stays right around the house, I think - there are two empty treed lots next to me and if I go out and call him he shows up within minutes. I had an indoor-outdoor cat for 14 years in the city (three different addresses) and she died of kidney failure, never got hurt or lost being outside. Dogs, on the other hand, will travel - it's what many breeds do naturally - and they can go quite a distance in a short time.
Now I'm going to take big bad Cooper for a little early morning travel around the hood. Daphne, the smaller, stupider Rottweiler slipped her kneecap and goes to the vet in a couple of hours so he can massage it back into place (I hope) and give her some better drugs than the aspirin and Benadryl I've given her for pain. She'll be out of commission for at least a week.
Hug your dogs!


Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

Our shelter is notorious for not checking for microchips... I don't know how they get away with it. I'm not sure how any of our pets would get lost, as our backyard is double-gated (the dogs are in an inner-section with a gate, and then there's a second "no man's land" section with another gate), and our cats aren't allowed out. Still, I worry that if they are lost, we can't count on animal control to help reunite us. The dogs wear collars with their phone numbers embroidered on them, but the cats are always pulling off their collars when they scratch.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Carina said...

Hi Leigh-Ann...well, there are two different microchips requiring different readers, which can muddy the waters a bit! I actually considered getting my dogs tattooed at one point, with my social security # on the inner thigh, or something. Decided not to, though.
One of the managers at the local shelter is a Rottweiler rescue person and I know she takes extra care with Rotties, which is good to know. Mostly I'm just very careful; unless the fence blows down without my noticing, they can't get out. I'm extremely careful on walks - with no mountains to hike, there's not too many places they go offleash and both places they do regularly are pretty safe.

8:05 AM  
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