Three hours into our search, George sat on a rock and cried. “I’m so scared for Sierra,” he posted on Facebook.
It was a sunny summer day, so I took the girls for a walk — our usual route — before I planned to head into the shop. But one of the neighbor’s dogs, who is usually on a runner, was loose and heading straight for Sierra. Before I knew what was happening, my quick-as-lightening Whookie somehow managed to wriggle out of her harness and bolt up the hill. I grabbed her collar, but I wasn’t quick enough. She was gone.
I was left with 2 conflicting and equally important priorities: Get Luna Mae home safely and find Sierra. The man whose dog caused the chaos was off chasing *his* dog (and, I hoped, mine), so when a neighbor drove past and offered me and Luna a ride, I took it.
American Humane reports that 1 in 3 pets will become lost or stolen at some point during their lives. While many are found relatively unharmed and unscathed, many more — sadly — are not. We were lucky. Incredibly, unbelievably lucky.
With Luna (and Vesper) safe at home, I trudged back up our street with a bag full of treats and fear in my voice. I screamed her name and knocked on doors. Cell service is spotty in our neck of the literal woods, so it took a few attempts to text to George — and to post to Houndstooth’s social media that we’d be opening late (if at all). I was lucky to find a few people at home and able to help (we live in a rural area, so there aren’t a lot of neighbors to ask). They briefly took over the “search” aspect so I could print up flyers and make some calls.
I genuinely hope this never happens to you. Or, perhaps, that it never again happens to you. Almost a year later, the day still haunts me. But if you do find yourself in a position similar to ours:
- If your pet is microchipped, make sure you know what information is on it, and that it’s current.
- If your pet isn’t microchipped, they probably should be.
- While you’re at it, make sure all of your pet’s ID tags have current information.
- Contact any and all veterinarians nearby (in case your pet is dropped off by a good samaritan), your local dog warden/ animal control officer, and your town office. The more people who know, the more people can help.
- Post everywhere you can think of. We posted to…
- The Front Porch Forum
- The rescue group where we adopted Sierra (for advice and because you never know who might live nearby)
- Other local rescue groups (again, for advice and because you never know who’s around)
- The Lost & Found Animals of Vermont Facebook group
- Our personal social media channels
- Poster everywhere you legally can. Make sure you use a clear, large photo of your pet and limit the amount of text on the poster. Essential details only.
And I know this may seem a little “out there” for some of you, but one of the best pieces of advice I got was from a friend who suggested I take a moment and visualize Sierra walking up our driveway. I’m not saying this is why or how she finally found her way home, but it certainly helps to put some positive energy out into the universe. More importantly, for me at least: As soon as I did just that, I heard George’s voice outside. I was responding to a query on Facebook; he was walking up our driveway to grab more flyers.
“What are you doing,” he cooed. “You wanna go see Mama?” I looked up and — within a matter of seconds — saw Sierra, pounding at the slider as she does when she wants back in.
She was safe. A little scratched up, and we had to pull a handful of ticks off her. But she was safe.
April 23 is “Lost Dog Awareness Day.” Take a few moments today to make sure you know what information is on your pet’s microchip (or to call your vet and schedule an appointment) — and to put your emergency plan together. If your lucky, you’ll never need it. But it’s better to be prepared.