Lost Dog

Photo: Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Occasionally, while I am out for a walk, I will hear someone yelling for their dog (and sometimes for their child). Or I will come across a “Dog Lost” poster stapled to a telephone pole. Sometimes there is a reward offered.  I feel my heart break for the person who has lost their pet.  When there are children involved, it is even sadder.

This article will address prevention as well as action to be taken if your dog is lost.

Let’s begin at the beginning.

PICKING YOUR DOGS NAME

The first thing you want to think about when you get a dog is how his name sounds to him and to other people.   You don’t want to be out on the street yelling “Porkface, Porkface where are you?”  As for me, I am glad my little dog named Mr. Bean has never got away on me.  It would be dreadfully embarrassing to be on the street or in a park yelling for Mr. Bean.

On the other hand, although you don’t want to saddle your dog with an awful name, you might want something original that your dog will instantly realize is his name.

ENSURE PEOPLE RECOGNIZE YOUR DOG

Walk your dog around your neighborhood often so people get to recognize that he is your dog.  That way if he gets away and someone captures him, they will know where to bring him.  Or, if they see him running loose, they can alert you.  Even better, you might want to get him a tag with your phone number on it.

KEEP YOUR DOG INSIDE DURING NOISY OCCASSIONS

Dogs are most likely to run away if they are scared.  Thunder and fireworks are particularly upsetting for some dogs.  Keep an eye on your dog during loud events or in boisterous crowds as dogs have been known to get off their leash and start running without direction because they are afraid of loud noises.  A dog can even be set off by a vehicle backfiring.

Even a leashed dog can slip out of your hand and be frightened by the leash snapping up and down behind him on the ground. Keep alert and keep a good grip.

IF YOUR DOG WON’T BE MATED, NEUTER HIM (OR HER)

Another reason for them to go on the loose is love.  When a bitch goes in heat, every unneutered male dog within 1000 acres will know. 

My father was appalled by the idea of neutering his male dog.  He was an old-fashioned man, and he claimed it was an unnatural act. Besides, Dad was convinced that he had escaped-proofed the yard.  The dog managed to get out anyway, and after an intensive week-long search, dad finally located him in a railway yard hiding behind an abandoned piece of farm equipment.  The dog was with his one true love. (And all this time, Dad thought the dog loved him.)  The dog was dirty and scrawny and had lost so much weight that my father hardly recognized him.  His best friend would not come to him no matter how much my dad begged him.  He growled when my father approached him.    When he was finally able to rescue his dog, my father promptly had the dog neutered.  

And how many puppies did that stray give birth to?  Did she even survive the ordeal? The minute Dad’s dog was removed from the scene, another male dog took his place and he too became protective, vicious and dangerous.

When a dog wants out of a yard, he will dig his way out, climb his way out, or jump his way out.  When I was a child, we had a dog who was a Houdini at getting himself out of his collar. 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR DOG GOES MISSING

So, someone spotted your dog running around on the loose, looking determined but confused and they called the dog catcher.  Now what?

You are probably in a panic.  The kids are crying because their dog is gone.  Your mate is in no mood to be empathetic.

First you need to calm down.  If you make a plan and look in control everyone in the household will have much more confidence in you.  Immediately call all the shelters in your area and let them know that if they see him, he is not a stray, he has a home and a loving family.

 You should be prepared with a good description that includes the height and weight of your dog and any distinctive markings. 

If your dog has a tattoo, know what it is. (Most often a number and some letters.)

Does your dog have an implanted microchip?

Next, visit the shelters in person.    If you can’t go to the shelters, see if they will take an email from you or if they have a Facebook page where you can post a Lost Dog ad. Include a picture.

In fact, make sure you have a clear picture of your dog and take it with you everywhere — make copies.

Post, post, post.  On the internet, on telephone poles, in the newspaper, on the supermarket memo board. 

Be prepared emotionally to take calls about dogs that look nothing like yours.  Even if your dog is a pure poodle, people will call you about everything from a collie to a beagle.  This will be very hard on your kids so be prepared to shield them from disappointment that may repeat itself.  Also, some people like to see others suffer and they may cruelly suggest that you dog has been picked up for use in experiments at a lab or it has been taken down by a wolf.  Yes, dogs of value are sometimes stolen off porches to be resold (check the want ads) and dogs in the country are occasionally picked off by coyotes, but I don’t think that these are common occurrences.  I think it is much more likely that the dog is scared and hiding.

The next thing you will need to do is start a search yourself.  Look for places where your dog might hide like old sheds and abandoned cars.  The dog may not want to come out if it has been alone a while and become fearful.  Bring favourite treats.  (Ham is a great one.  I don’t know a dog that dislikes it.)

SPRING YOUR DOG FROM JAIL

If your dog ends up at a shelter, they won’t just hand him to you.  Bring evidence that he is yours like a picture, the record of his adoption (which will include details like breed and tattoo or microchip).  You will likely have to take out your wallet to pay for things like a fine or boarding so be prepared. 

Finally, here are a few websites that have some excellent ideas.

https://petfbi.org/i-lost-a-pet/lost-dog-action-plan/

https://www.petfinder.com/cats/lost-and-found-cats/lost-pet/

WHEN DOGS ATTACK

Fall is on the way and the cold weather is coming. So, every time there’s sun and warmth, I take the opportunity to gather the last of the season and walk around my neighborhood.  Last week as I passed a car parked in a driveway, and a dog came running out from behind the car and lunged at me.  Luckily, he was tied up.  But it reminded me of the time my husband was walking our Sheltie, and a woman opened the front door of her house, and out jumped a big black dog who immediately dashed down the stairs to the sidewalk and attacked my dog.   The woman had intended to tie the dog but had lost her grip. She was apologetic and my dog left with just the lost of his fur, but we became alert after that.

And what did the owner of that dog who scared the daylights out of me have to say about his dog lunging out at me.  He yelled at him not to do that.  Mmm….I doubt the dog will listen.  I now walk on the other side of the street. That is the easiest way to avoid a dog with a bad attitude. However, here are some other possible solutions.

  • Loud horn such as those used at hockey and baseball games.  (Air Horn – available at Uline)
  • Citronella spray – available at Pet Stores like Pet Smart.
  • Pick up your dog – but if at all possible don’t keep the dog in your arms as you may be attacked also.  Toss your dog out of site or in a safe place like over in someone’s fenced yard or even in a dumpster.   (Please only do this if you have the time as the attacking dog will likely jump on you to get to your dog.)
  • Carry a walking stick and use it.
  • Better yet, carry dog food with you and toss it to the dog to distract it.
  • Yell at the attacking dog at the top of your lungs.  I did this once and half the neighborhood came out to see what the heck was going on…and the dog stopped in his track. My dog didn’t even look at me. You’d think he heard me yell like that every day!

I wouldn’t be afraid of walking by this sleepy head.

The above photo is courtesy of Lauren Kay at Unsplash.

Bravery or Discipline

This picture is everywhere on line. I happen to grab this copy from Pinterest but I am certain I have seen it elsewhere. What do you see when you look at this photo?

Most credit the cat for his bravery but what I saw was discipline. Those dogs are obviously trained to ignore distractions. Unfortunately I have a feeling one of those dogs may not graduate out of the Academy. Yet he has a young face. Maybe a newbie? Can you spot that dog?

Is the cat brave or the dogs disciplined? Maybe both? Or maybe the cat knows the dogs will stay put.

Hearing Aid

A dog trained to support a person with a hearing disability or deafness will alert the owner to sounds such as alarms, doorbells or door knocks, timers, approaching cars or people, babies crying or the owner’s name being said.  The dog is trained so that it performs a different action for different sounds.  For instance, when someone is at the door the dog could be trained to poke the owner with its nose, then lead her or him to the door.  However, if the phone rings, the dog would perform a different action like use its paw to tap the owner then lead him or her to the phone.

Trained hearing dogs are not easy to get.  Hearing dogs are usually bred to take on this job, and it takes several years of training.  A dog will generally be between 2 and 3 years old before it is ready to assist a person.  Sadly, 80% of dogs will fail the training.  It takes a dog with a special personality and intelligence to graduate.  Once the owner (called handler) acquires a dog, this person must constantly keep up the training or the dog could lose its skills and require retraining.

Not just anyone with a hearing disability or deafness will qualify for a dog.  First, the person must be able to participate in training so that he or she can handle the dog and continue the training.  The person must be able to prove that the dog’s needs will be taken care of including physical needs such as feeding, safe housing, grooming, exercising, and vetenary care.

By the way, others should avoid distracting a service dog by petting it or whistling at it or trying to get its attention in any other manner.  People walking their dog should never approach a person with a hearing dog as the two dogs will want to “meet and greet” and the hearing dog must stay on the job and alert at all times.

The best breeds for hearing dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles and Cocker Spaniels.  Candidates for this job must have a calm temperament yet be confident.

This wonderful photo is thanks to Drew Hays at Unsplash (https://unsplash.com/@drew_hays)

If you would like to learn more about Hearing dogs:

Hearing dogs 101 by Tara Mitrovic. https://www.chha.ca/hearing-dogs-101/

You Listen for Me – Paws with a Cause https://www.pawswithacause.org/what-we-do/assistance-dogs/hearing-dogs/#qualifications

Canine Companions Perform Important Functions for Hearing Impaired People – the American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/hearing-dogs/

Any press is good press

Well, with some dogs it’s more like any attention is good attention. My dog Sinatra would do anything to please me, including pose for ridiculous photos such as the one taken here by my husband.

Dog at the wheel

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Do dogs enjoy taking photos

When my husband retired he bought his first DSLR Camera.  We were all subjected to his “inspiration” but our dogs were especially so.  After a while they refused to look at him when he pointed the camera at them.  I really think they had got bored with the whole thing.

Let me take a sheltie