We see lost dogs pretty often. It’s not surprising – there are about 40 of us and we’re out on the streets and in parks. A wayward dog stands out to us. Sometimes they have tags. Sometimes they don’t. Some of the dogs are absolutely ecstatic to be on an exciting adventure. But some are rather panicked.
The last lost dog we came across made us think – maybe we could offer some advice in what to do if your dog is ever lost. Let’s hope it never happens; if it does – to you or a friend – here’s a little cheat sheet we’ll call Lost and Found.
Lost and Found Cheat Sheet:
1. Call the Humane Society
People are most likely to report lost pets here. They may also simply bring them straight in.
2. Call Animal Services
In Toronto, the number is 416-338- PAWS (7297).
Get friends and family to help immediately. Call us if you like! Make sure your friends are armed with these things:
a) Cell phones and your number. Make one number the command post and be sure you’ve got a fully charged phone; if this is an issue, choose someone who can stay near a landline to be in charge of “central command”.
b) A photo of your dog and a description. Describe the dog tip to tail. Many photos won’t show the whole dog and will miss obvious things like – no tail.
c) An idea of what your dog is like. Where he might go. What he likes and doesn’t like.
d) A route to cover. Don’t have multiple people covering the same ground if it means you’re missing possible ground.
e) A report of where and when he was last seen and whether he was wearing a collar or tag as well as what colour they are.
f) Squeaky toys (if he responds to those)
g) Treats (if he’s food motivated)
i) Posters and tape or a stapler.
j) An extra leash if possible. If they find your dog, they’ll need a way to secure her, especially if they’re on foot.
4. Think about why?
A dog that’s scared, a dog who saw an opportunity for adventure, a dog who’s lost himself. They’ll act differently. A scared dog will hide. An adventurous dog will go somewhere fun; maybe somewhere familiar.
5. Think about how
Your dog’s character may play a part in how best to recover him or her. Rover may have run off because he’s scared or maybe confused. He may not consider himself lost. His nose may have led him on a trail for which the rest of his body just came along the ride.
Is your dog food obsessed? Have anyone in your search party armed with treats. You know the way a food-motivated dog will respond to the rattle of treats in a tin or a bag. Also, consider that he may be rifling around in something tempting. Is it garbage day? Check the sides of houses in the neighbourhood where compost may be waiting to be discovered.
Timid dog? Call out cheerfully and softly. Obviously you’ll need to be heard. But be careful not to sound angry or upset. Yelling won’t encourage a fearful dog to appear. Scared of loud noises? If your dog ran off during a thunderstorm or a fireworks display, he’s frightened. There’s a good chance he’s hiding under something that would afford him some “protection” from the menacing noises. It may be as close to home as under your deck. Have your searchers check under cars or hedges – anything that might be a doggy safe haven.
A love sponge? If she’s a gregarious, people-lover there’s a good chance she’ll wander up to people for pats. Be sure to ask everyone you pass. They may have seen her and not realized she’s lost.
6. Call your vet
Call other vets in the neighbourhood. Not only may they have a network that could help, but if your dog is microchipped, they’ll be on the lookout to scan your pup if someone brings him in. Microchipping is a wonderful invention - few canines ever remember their address or phone number.
7. The Internet
Post on Craigslist or Kijiji. Look for lost pets groups. HelpingLostPets.com, , Facebook Groups and Pet Harbor. There are so many resources now. The key is to post quickly and cast the net as wide as you can.
This should include your dog’s name, a photo, a description, a phone number to call, and the date she was lost. It doesn’t hurt to mention that he’s from a family who misses him.
9. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Social media can be of immense help. Put it out there and ask for shares. Do it as quickly as possible. It helped Bob Odenkirk recover a dog when a dog whizzed by him at the open gate of a dog park.
10. Think creatively
We know a great Yukon veterinarian whose staff was taking a patient dog when disaster struck. The dog wasn’t tethered and he escaped. In a big city, this is bad news. In the Yukon where there are only 33,000 people in the entire territory and more trees and open land than the mind can really imagine, it’s horrific. They thought fast, though. They hired a helicopter. Within half an hour, the pilot spotted the dog. It cost $440 for the hour, but they got him back safe and sound. We’re not suggesting you have the number for your local whirly bird on hand, but it does show that some quick and creative thinking can go a long way.
11. Someone’s found your dog, but he won’t come when he’s called
A stressed dog may not be great with recall. Exercise patience. Get into a low position – crouch. Call gently. Ask for a sit. We’ve found that because it’s one of the very first things dogs learn as puppies, this is the one command a dog is most likely to listen to even when everything else won’t work. “Sit” is just ingrained. When the dog sits, ask for a stay. As long as you have that sit, you’ve got time. Don’t rush it – you don’t want to start the chase all over again. It’s not a bad idea here to wait calmly and call for backup. This is where you as the owner being present could make all the difference.
12. Found. Daisy’s back in your arms
Thank everyone involved, of course. But be sure to take down all the posters you’ve put up. You don’t want people calling a week later, nor do you want to have worried and concerned neighbours on the lookout – they’ll take less notice the next time they see a lost dog sign if they feel such posters are never current. Be sure at this point that she’s got a tag with up-to- date contact info, a collar that fits and possibly even a microchip. If there are holes in the fence or some recall training that needs to be done, now’s the time. An ounce of prevention . . . you know how that goes . . .