We have a wandering jackal in this house. It’s my dog, BT, who acts sweet and nice and pretends that if you let him in the front yard he’ll stay around the door and come right back but then when your back is turned he’ll take off. It’s happened not once but twice in the last 6 weeks.
The first time, I was in despair. “We’ll never find him,” I thought quietly. Another dog we’d had was lost four years ago in the same neighborhood and we never found out anything about her whereabouts. How could I ever get this dog back?
We went to the shelters and there was a flier there for “lost pet dog tracking service.” It seemed that they would use a tracking dog to find out where your dog went. We considered for a couple of hours – the trail was getting cold – and then called the lady up.
It was impressive, the woman came out with the dog, a rangy red bloodhound, in a tracking harness, set him on the scent, and he put his nose down and began to follow a looping path just like a real wandering jackal would make down the street. In the end all the woman could tell us was that the scent ended at the intersection of Bilglade and Granbury and that meant the dog had been picked up in a car at that point. Although that was good for something – we knew he wasn’t shivering on the street somewhere – it didn’t explain where the dog was.
But BT was recovered, somehow. We put up signs and checked the shelters, as the dog-tracking lady had advised, and my husband found him in the Humane Society Shelter three days after his escape. The bloodhound lady had told us that if you do everything you can – check the shelters, put up posters, and hire the bloodhound – the recovery rate for lost dogs is about 85%. I wish I’d known that four years ago.
Dean had the dog microchipped at the Humane Society. We bought him a new collar and hung the microchip tag on it. And then, last Friday, the dog got out again.
I felt bad – but this time I didn’t go to the shelters. I figured if they had the dog they’d scan him and call us. And, in fact, we did get a call in the afternoon. The dog had been located about six blocks away, on the same route he’d been using the previous time. The man who found him got the Petfinder tag and called the number, and they referred him to us. I was so grateful. I gave the kids a lecture about letting the dog in the front yard, of course. But I also realized that finding your lost dog didn’t have to be a hopeless case.
These are the steps to preventing a lost dog:
- Have the dog microchipped
- Have the dog wear a collar with the microchip company tog and a name tag with your phone number.
- Don’t ever let the dog outside of a fenced enclosure.
If the dog is lost:
- Go to the shelters.
- Put up signs in the area where the dog was lost. Put “Reward” and “Needs medication.” If people think the dog needs medication, they won’t want to keep it. All dogs need heartworm medication, so you’re not fibbing.
- Hire a dog tracking bloodhound if you can find one. It gives you a sense of having tried everything and you might be led right to the door of a neighbor who was planning to “adopt” your dog.
- If at first you don’t succeed, go back to the shelters again. Dean found BT on the second visit. Dogs have been found at shelters as long as a year after disappearing.
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