Don’t Give Up When You’re Missing Your Pup

Today’s post is by Guest Blogger Kate Townsend

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In mid February I lost my dog on a hike in the foothills of the Rockies. She bolted after a deer, broke away from me, and vanished. Our group called for hours and hours, and when dusk settled in we rushed to the library to make lost dog posters. It felt so surreal, I couldn’t believe I was about to leave that park without my dog, I felt guilty, I felt helpless, knowing she could be anywhere.

The weeks that followed were filled with immense anxiety, sadness, and a rollercoaster of emotions. Between calls of sightings that didn’t pan out, driving up every day after work to where we lost her, and searching endlessly for her – time was in exhausting slow motion.

We printed hundreds of posters, put ads here on Craiglist, used the pet alert call system, gathered a search party, and shared it on facebook and via email threads. We tried leaving clothing with our scent on it where we last saw her, tried using a dog trap, tried doing a bacon burn to attract her to us – and we were getting nothing.

We never gave up hope but of course discouragement sets in, how can all this relentless hard work not pay off?

On April 1st I received a phone call from a woman who had been following my dog and I’s saga, and lived near the area she was lost. She had, like us, been searching for weeks in hopes to bring Blitz home. She was walking in her neighborhood when she noticed a small sign that read “Found” and had a picture eerily similar to Blitz’s. She rushed home to look up a photo of Blitz and was convinced it was her. She was so sweet and called me right away in tears of joy – certain she was about to reunite me with my dog. Sure enough, I phoned the number to leave a message of Blitz’s description and they returned my call asking what color collar she had on. I told them and heard the words I’d been waiting a month and a half for: “I think we have your dog.”

I rushed up to the house, rang the doorbell, and sure enough heard Blitz’s bark right before seeing her little head pop up at the door. Nothing short of miracle!! She had been lost in the wilderness for 44 days, defying all odds and making it to a family who brought her back to me. She is now home safe and sound – filled with unimaginable experiences of the outdoors.

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I wanted to share this with those who have lost their pet, to encourage them not to give up. Your pet is out there somewhere, and if you can spread the word enough, they will come back to you.

  • Check all surrounding shelters regularly, online and in person. Lots of dogs slip through the cracks this way because their owner doesn’t realize they are at the shelter.
  • Call and leave descriptions at all surrounding vets, often times people who find dogs will bring them in to get checked for a microchip.
  • Be sure to use social media – it is your friend! Colorado Lost and Found dogs and other animal rescues pages
  • Craiglist is very useful – keep your posts constantly updated and at the forefront, on both the pets and lost and found pages – and make sure to read through the other posts so you don’t miss a post about your dog/cat/etc!
  • Try leaving an article of clothing that was worn for a few days, heavy with your scent, where you last saw the dog, with a bowl of water. Check this spot as much as possible, often times dogs will be attracted back and wait for you at that spot.
  • Create colorful posters, and talk to as many people in the area as you can, keep people thinking about it as much as you are. Canvass the entire area surrounding where your pet escaped.
  • Utilize the FindToto or PetAmberAlert call system – these can be pricey but get the word out very quickly and efficiently
  • Most importantly – DONT GIVE UP HOPE! – be diligent and keep doing everything you can to bring your pet home

Hope this helps reunite some pets to their loving families!

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Thank you so much Kate, for sharing your story and for being such an inspiration to me as I was searching for my puppy!

~ Thankfully Exhausted

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Find Your Lost Dog

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I just recently lost and found my seven month old Golden Retriever puppy. She got out of our yard on a Monday night and was successfully returned on the following Sunday which just happened to be Easter Sunday (yes, God’s timing does exist).

I found a lot of different resources and met new friends along the way so I wanted to share some of my knowledge to hopefully help someone else find their dog. Please keep in mind that I live in Elizabeth, Colorado so some of the organizations might be different in your area.

Start Searching the Moment You Notice Your Dog Missing

  • Walk the routes that you consistently walk with your pet (mine was spotted many times along our regular walking route) calling out in a nice voice.
  • Take your kids, other dog(s), treats, toys, and a leash in case you find them.
  • Get reinforcements – if you have family or friends in the area ask them to help.
  • Go door to door at your neighbors’ houses. Tell them how important your dog is to you (if they don’t already know) and if you have a recent picture on your cell phone, show them the picture.

If Searching Yields No Results – DON’T GIVE UP!

  • Get on Craigslist and Ebay Classifieds – put ads in both the pet sections and the lost/found sections. If you’re offering a reward include the word “Reward” – I didn’t include the amount. Also, check to see if anyone might have found your dog and posted a found report or maybe, and I hate to even say this but, check the people that are selling dogs that have a similar description to yours. If you contact them, act like you’re an interested buyer – not an accusatory owner.
  • Call all the local authorities: Police, Sheriff, Park Rangers, Veterinarians (Leave messages on their machines if it’s after hours and call back in the morning), and Shelters.
  • Put in reports where you can with a description of your dog and your contact information (Police, Sheriff, Shelters, Veterinarians, Kennels, Etc.)
  • Put it on social media – find local rescue organizations and ask them to share a picture and information. If your dog is a certain breed, check for organizations dedicated to that breed. And ASK PEOPLE TO SHARE OR RETWEET. That’s huge because some people might not even think to share it but if you ask, they might be more willing to do it! Because of people sharing my post, I found out that a local government official received phone calls from Wyoming telling him to look for my dog.
  • Create Posters – I find simpler is better. My poster was relatively simple as you can see:

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  • Put posters everywhere you can – on stop sign posts at local intersections, at coffee shops, pet groomer, pet stores, veterinarians, police departments, sheriff’s offices, grocery stores, post offices, feed stores, gas stations (on each pump if they’ll let you), restaurants, schools, and any other business in your area that will allow it. Keep a record of places you go – you’ll want to make sure to take them all down once you have found your dog.
  • I made mini posters with a small treat bag and two dog treats enclosed to hand out to anyone I saw walking or to neighbors that I talked to.
  • Expect some pushback, expect some naysayers, brush them off and DON’T GIVE UP HOPE.
  • List your dog as lost on some or all of these websites or ones that are more relevant to your individual search area: www.petharbor.com, www.fidofinder.com, www.lostmydoggie.com, www.lostadog.com, www.lostdogsdenver.com, www.petamberalert.com – paying for an amber alert where they call people in your area and send out flyers to various pet-related businesses in the area is well worth your money, in my opinion.
  • Keep posting on craigslist – every. single. day.
  • If there are sightings in the area, go there and hang out or camp out if you can. Have treats, toys, food bowls (to make the sound of their feeding time), and other goodies to lure them in.
  • Leave a crate or a dog door open in case your dog comes home. I left our dog door and gate open almost 24 hours a day (with the other dog secured) just in case she found her way home.
  • Pray – I know it sounds simple but I believe it was THE key factor in us finding our Mayzie, and on Easter Day nonetheless! Praise God!

Some Tips That I Received

  • If you see your dog and it seems afraid of you, that’s normal, get down on your hands and knees and act like there’s something very interesting on the ground or even lay on the ground. Your dog may get curious and come over.
  • People have a tendency to take a pet to their favorite shelter – not necessarily the closest shelter so check EVERYWHERE.
  • Dogs typically don’t wander more than 5 miles from home, especially if they’re alone. A puppy is even less likely to go that far. And dogs rarely run in straight lines.
  • Keep your veterinary records, pictures, and anything/everything you have to prove that it is, in fact, your dog with you at all times. Shelters will require this and any normal citizen will require some proof – as I would expect them to!
  • Make your vehicle your command center – keep posters, tape, push pins, dog toys, a phone charger, dog treats, a leash and collar, etc. in your car. You never know when you might need them.
  • If there has been a sighting, you may want to take a blanket or dog bed that the dog is familiar with (scented like home) and leave it in the area. Dogs’ primary sense is their sense of smell, so they may gravitate towards it and then you might find them there the next morning.
  • If your dog is on a feeding schedule, going looking at that time of day is the best because they’re hungry. Searching while they’re probably sleeping or resting (at night or when it’s very hot outside) will likely not yield results.
  • If your dog is gone long, make new posters with a different title like “Still Missing” or “Still Lost”.
  • I put my second round of posters on card stock, inside plastic sleeves with the tops taped so they would withstand weather and wouldn’t curl around sign posts.
  • Post an ad in the paper.
  • Talk to everyone you can about your missing dog. The more eyes that are searching the better.
  • Don’t give up hope. I spoke with a woman who lost her dog for 45 days before she was returned.

Prevention is the Way To Go

  • Get your dog microchipped. This not only helps if someone finds your dog but it can help prevent theft as well as ruling out other dogs you may see on shelter pages that look similar to yours, but you’re not sure. I drove an hour in each direction of my house to follow up on possible dogs to find out they weren’t my Mayzie.
  • Get a GPS tracker like the Tagg Tracker. Mine just came in the mail!
  • Always make sure your dogs are up to date on their vaccinations.
  • Give your dog things to do – they need a job to keep their minds busy whether it be training for some time before you go to work, playing fetch, or even leaving puzzle toys for them to use.
  • Understand your dog’s abilities. I had no idea my dogs were capable of escaping my yard. Now, I’m very aware.
  • Take lots of pictures. I take hundreds of pictures every day and I still had a hard time finding one that looked like my Mayzie. Instagram changes the color of pets. Don’t use an Instagramed picture on posters unless it really does look like your pet.

I hope this helps!

~ Thankfully Exhausted

Missing (And Finding) Mayzie

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As she sits at my feet meticulously licking her newly washed golden coat, I wonder if she knows the heartache and longing that her explorative outbreak caused. After jumping out of the yard, something she had never done even though she had spent hours and days in the same yard, we spent almost 143 hours searching and worrying. People I barely knew along with my friends and family were thinking, praying, and searching. Believers and non-believers were hoping for a miracle and what better day than Easter, the day of the biggest miracle in history?

A group of the people I had never met other than via email, telephone calls, and social media arranged a search party for today, Easter Day, at 4:00 p.m. My hopes were dwindling after I had shouted “Mayzie” almost a million times over the course of the past six days, but I was so excited that there would be so many of us, maybe we would actually find her. At 3:45 p.m. as I was about to walk out the door, my phone rang. An unknown number. The skip in my heart was less noticeable than it had been days before, but it existed nonetheless.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hi, are you the one that’s missing the dog?” A question I had heard so many times this week from unknown numbers.

“Yes, that’s me.”

“I have her.” He replied a bit winded.

“You have my dog? Are you sure it’s her?” My hopes starting to rise as I almost dropped the phone.

“Uh… yeah,” He said.

“Where!?!” I couldn’t control my excitement at this point. My keys were already in my hand and I was out the door, my kids left with my parents and my sister and her fiancé frantically trying to keep up.

He told me he found her down by the river and he caught her. He would meet me at the local church next to the elementary school.

Two minutes later I was waiting in an empty parking lot, looking for a truck or car or something to drive up. My sister and her fiancé had finally pulled in beside me as I was getting the reward money together for these people.

Then Brandon said, “There they are.”

And sure enough, two men were walking toward us from behind the church, one of them with a dog in his arms.

It was her!

Tears rolled down my cheeks as my slightly thinner, but all around healthy looking puppy wiggled back into my arms as she had so many times before.

They told me that they had found her down by the creek and even though she growled at them when they approached, they had seen the many lost dog signs hanging around town and decided they were going to catch her.

Though I tried to give them the reward money, they refused to take it over an over again.

I was then able to take Mayzie to where the search party was gathering and tell them the good news which was greeted with many gasps, smiles, hugs, and tears. When my kids joined us they threw themselves at Mayzie and with tears in their eyes they hugged and hugged her neck while she wagged her tail and licked their faces.

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I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the help and support I received. I am so thrilled that our baby is back home. And now she’s forever on house arrest… Just kidding.

Tomorrow we will be off the to vet to get microchips and checkups while we wait for the Tagg GPS trackers to come in the mail.

When my brain is back to normal, I will detail all of the things I did to find her and hopefully they will help someone else. Good people, small community, prayer, and ultimately God brought my baby home on such a miraculous day. Thank you.

~ Thankfully Exhausted

Special Thanks To:

  • GOD
  • Jake and Kyle (Who Found Her)
  • My Dad
  • My Mom
  • My Sister
  • My Brother-In-Law
  • Whitne
  • Sabrina
  • Lisa
  • Denice
  • Carolyn
  • Sue
  • Shayne
  • Suzanne
  • JoAnne
  • KaDee
  • Erin
  • Jenny
  • Geniene
  • Amanda
  • Joelle
  • Andrea
  • Mike
  • Carin
  • The lady who called (Kate, I think) that had found her dog after it had been gone 45 days.
  • The lady who called that found her dog after consistently putting up posters in Elizabeth.
  • The man who called to tell me he saw her running by the elementary school.
  • The woman who called on her way to pick up pizza for dinner when she saw Mayzie.
  • The woman who gave me hope after sitting on a corner for hours when she told me that she saw Mayzie just the night before in that very place.
  • The man who called to yell at me for putting up a poster in his HOA. (Yes, thanks to him too because he saw the poster and could have had an impact that I’m unaware of.)
  • The man who got angry when I came to his door and slammed it on me only to find me a bit later down the street and apologize for his behavior. (Same reasoning as above.)
  • All The Businesses In Elizabeth & Kiowa that Put Up My Posters and Helped Spread The Word
  • The Elizabeth Police and Elbert County Sheriff’s Office
  • The Local Veterinarians & Pet Businesses
  • More Facebook Pages Than I Can List or Even Know About
  • More Friends Than I Can List
  • The Random Strangers That Called To Give Me Sighting Reports and Encouragement
  • The Prayer Warriors
  • My Boss
  • My Co-Workers
  • And Anyone Else I Forgot (I’m Sorry, I’m Very Tired)

I couldn’t have done this without you! Much love and thanks!

Mayzie's already back at her old tricks of stealing my shoes!

Mayzie’s already back at her old tricks of stealing my shoes!

Surviving April Fools Day in 7 Easy Steps

April Fools Day is a day that I simultaneously look forward to and dread every year. Not only is it the anniversary of my divorce (no joke) but it’s also a day that gullible suckers like me get fooled. So I figured I’d give all you gullible suckers out there a few ways to avoid being tricked this April Fools Day: 

  1. Don’t eat, drink, or consume anything anyone gives you. Make your own food, coffee, etc. 
  2. Don’t shower – trust me on this one, I’ve seen too many people with purple/pink/green hair. 
  3. Avoid radio talk shows – last year I was convinced our beloved Peyton Manning had been traded from Denver. 
  4. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they’re pregnant, getting married, getting divorced, etc. Shocking life events will still be shocking tomorrow and if they’re true, that person should seriously rethink their timing.  
  5. Avoid Facebook. Yes, I know Facebook addicts this is hard for you but seriously if you don’t want to be tricked…
  6. When walking down the street make eye contact with passersby, point at them, and say loudly, “I’m no fool!”
  7. Be careful when interacting with your children – mine think an April Fools Prank is equivalent to a head butt, licking my face, etc. 

Or you can always just join in on the fun, laugh along with them and be the gullible sucker that keeps April Fools Day fun and entertaining. I think that’s the one I’ll go with.

Good Luck!

~ Thankfully Exhausted