Spring has finally arrived, the sun is shining brightly and warmer temperatures see the day. Time to mow the lawn and start getting the garden ready for a beautiful outdoor summer. Alas spring brings lovely smells in the air, it is ever so tempting for dogs’ noses and urges them to wiz off and explore the land outside your garden.
It only takes one second of the leash, one garden gate not well closed and your pet can decide to go for an adventure, unable to resist the temptation to explore. Or maybe, you just welcomed a new pet in your house, balance in the household might change for the other pets and cause a change of attitude! If you’re lucky, you’ll have your loved one back in a few hours, but it can take days too…
It is what happened last Thursday to some friends of mine: their black pug took off together with their shepherd. The shepherd returned after a few hours, their pug didn’t… Knowing it’s a gregarious dog, who might go to anybody who calls him, we’re still hoping this wiggly-but has been picked up by a nearby person, willing to give a lost dog a home… Size matters, people are more inclined to pick up a small dog, looking more vulnerable than a large dog… so we still hope he might be rescued somewhere.
When your dog escaped, keep in mind that dogs have excellent homing instincts and often come back after their adventure!
A beautiful spring day may make your dog travel a lot more miles than on a wintery day! Here in this mountainous area, dogs tend to go very far when they escape!
The first thing to do, is search everywhere of course, keeping in mind that dogs are crepuscular, so most active at dawn and dusk. Get up early before traffic starts up! Start covering your daily walking paths, the surrounding areas, and then draw a circle on the map, making your home the center of it and extend the radius methodically. The longer your dog is missing, the larger the perimeter you’ll have to cover!
Immediately hang an old, recently worn T-shirt (worn all day, the longer the better) at your gate, leave a favourite toy outside spreading the scent of home, put a bowl of water, his basket outside, in case he returns, whilst you’re searching.
Print of a recent picture of your dog, showing people the picture, is better than describing your lost dog! Talk to everybody, spread the news!
Take your other dog with you on the search. Don’t forget to look into bushes and under cars, your dog might be frightened and hiding or just taking a nap in those hiding places. Bring along a treat box (food is a big motivator) and shake it during your search, its favourite squeaky toy, anything, to lure him to you. A whistle gets your dogs attention when being in the woods: blow the whistle. Do not count on your dog to bark when he hears you! Keep on calling its name!
Don’t forget to check newly constructed or abandoned houses, barns, your dog might have gone in, to find shelter.
Welcome him with open arms when he comes running to you, don’t be angry, the dog will think you’re angry because he comes back to you. You were concerned about your dog being lost, the dog wasn’t, most of the times, he’ll be happy to see you after having enjoyed his adventure!
Phone up the local animal protection service, the local vets and local mairies, gendarmes or police and fire brigade, as that is where people bring lost dogs, they’re the first ones to be called (ask them to hang up your flyer, keep it in their cars). Make sure you give them its identity chip number!
Use social media: twitter, facebook, mail to spread the sad news. Repeat daily!
Spread coloured flyers with a coloured, recent picture of your dog, showing its face and distinguishing features, telephone numbers to reach you or your family, somebody that picks up the phone. Hang one on your gate, put one on your car window and ask friends to do the same!
Give them immediately to the postman, the baker that does his daily round, the binmen (as they drive around in the early hours and might see your dog), and they do see a lot of people and hear the latest news. A flyer in their car, as a reminder, might spread the word.
Flyers at the local pub, greengrocer, baker, tobacconist shop, newspaper shop, bus or train stations, laundries, supermarkets, chemist, post office, as that is where loads of people come daily! Don’t forget to then warn petshops, petgroomers, dogtrainers in the region, they see many a dog lover and can spread the news. Ask the merchants to display your flyer in their display window and next to their cash register!
Hang the flyers on telephone poles and trees, near crossroads where cars have to stop and can see it, don’t forget the local restaurants.
Contact the local paper and pay to publish a big enough search flyer.
In rural areas contact the local responsible for the hunters, they might know where animal traps are often set (even if they pretend there are none in the area), go and check those areas, a trapped animal can’t come home even if it wants to!
More than 48 hours…
Don’t lose hope! No news can be good news. Dogs can survive for a long time, even months, or they can be very far away from home, imagine a kind person taking him in his car…
Keep on looking, keep on checking and rechecking, renew flyers. Dogs with microchips or tatoos can always end up somewhere and can later be identified by a local vet.
Don’t get emotionally or physically exhausted or discouraged!
This is the time for prevention too:
Update your computer with recent pictures of all your pets. Make sure they all wear a steel tag, containing telephone numbers with area code, full address, slid onto their collar! Check your fence for possible escape routes.Keep reminding people you’re still looking for your dog!
When you finally have him back, warn all these people and thank them for helping! Remove the flyers!
Banthu Lobo our husky mix (in the main picture) is a real escape artist, don’t be fooled by his lazy appearance, and we got him back several times, often after more than two days worrying…
So is Five, our teckel, but he stays around the property after he dug his way under the fence!
Masters in crime, were the two brothers Yukon and Shadow, our now deceased Belgian Shepherds, no fence too high, no precautions enough, if they wanted to have a free run they went for it! Yukon (the black one) was once caught in a poacher’s snare and it was pure luck and determination of one of our friends that found him tied up in a snare to a tree…
Thumbs up for Hagar’s return