A couple of weeks ago, I was driving home, really looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening. As I puttered along the county road, I went around a curve and saw a small black lab standing smack-dab in the middle of the pavement. Cars were coming from the other direction, swerving around him, and he just kinda stood there like he was thinking, “Cars are neato!!” He wore no collar and I could tell immediately that he wasn’t your typical country dog. He just looked a little too much like he was absolutely drunk on freedom.
I pulled over and rolled down my window. Bounding up to my car, he jumped up to say hello. Wiggling and delighted to meet me (which is awesome for my self-esteem, by the way), he was one of the friendliest dogs I have ever met, an absolute love. Well, I couldn’t just leave him in the middle of the road, could I? So, I opened up my car door and he hopped right up onto the back seat and sat down, sweet and pretty as you please.
I went to several houses to inquire if they recognized this dog who was obviously well trained and well cared for. Someone had to know this dog and I knew they would be missing him greatly. When I couldn’t find anyone who recognized him, I decided to take him home, make some calls, and turn to social media for help.
When I got him to my house, I introduced him slowly to Luna and Moose. I put a collar on him in order to keep everybody safe. Moose, being the curmudgeon he is, grumpily tolerated this new intrusion into his life. Luna, on the other hand, loved having this boy around, as she finally had a playmate that could keep up with her! While they played and tussled, I got online and joined a community Facebook group so I could post a picture of the boy. Lots of people shared the post and, through the miracle that is social media, someone actually came forward a few hours later and said they thought the boy was theirs!
“There’s an easy way to tell if you have my dog, K9,” said the woman on the phone.
“Oh, what’s that?” I asked.
“He knows sign language.”
That’s pretty cool, I thought. So, we tested it out. Sure enough, K9 would sit, lay down, and roll over if you held up 1, 2, or 3 fingers. It was very impressive, especially for such a rambunctious little pup!! It was also an eye opener that I need to up my game with Luna’s training. She really IS this dog:
So, like all events that turn a person’s world from “nice, relaxing evening” to some form of chaos, this one left me with a couple of lessons learned, this time in the “Reuniting Dogs with Family” department.
- Use social media. When I found K9, the area shelters were closed, which was probably a blessing. Even though some shelters have excellent communication tools, such as an online Lost & Found directory, our local shelter is understaffed, always low on funds, and has a Web site that seems to be more for decoration than anything. So unless you need them in the middle of one of the days they happen to be open, there is no way to get in touch. I don’t even know that they have the resources to hold found dogs anyway. They probably would’ve taken a Polaroid and sent the dog back home with me. Heck, I can post a picture, and that’s what I did. I joined the local area Facebook group and posted a photo of K9 there. Within about two hours, the owner contacted me.
- If the dog is uncollared, put a collar on him or her if you have one. This helps you keep a safe handle on the little one (literally). Until I knew K9’s real name, I called him Mr. Wiggle Butt and Squirmy McSquirm-a-lot because he was so giddily active. His curiosity was off the charts and only matched by his youthful, puppy energy. My goal: to get this guy back to his home in one piece. This would require being able to hold onto him, especially when it came to introducing him to Moose and Luna C.
- Note, however, that if you put on a collar, be sure to either get a photo of the dog first without the collar, or specify in your description that the collar in the picture is yours. At least three people saw the collar I’d put on K9 and assumed it was his. The owner’s boyfriend in fact even denied knowing K9, saying, “My dog doesn’t have a collar.” (Perhaps now he will get one?).
There’s my story. Animals have such a way of turning our worlds upside down, don’t they? I can’t imagine my life without the little nutters. No matter what, they always seem to fill and expand our hearts. I came away from this experience very tired (that relaxing evening I had planned? HA!), glad for the happy ending, and a little bit in love with K9, who is welcome at my house anytime.