7 Valuable Lessons from an Almost Lost Pet
Jasmine Went Missing
I learned a valuable lesson from an "almost" lost dog last night. Albeit a sleepless, tense night.
My little 6 year old Chihuahua, Jasmine (Jazzy), went missing at 9:30 last night. I had been working on the website a little later than usual and got up to let the dogs out at about 9:30. Jazzy and Bailey could hear the wind whipping around and so they didn’t budge off of the bed when I called. I could have sworn that I hand carried them downstairs to go out in the fenced backyard. Exhausted from a long day, I let them back in and locked the door. Bird lights in the bird room were shut off and all my pets were all snug in their beds - almost.
Contact lenses out and my coke-bottle glasses on, I did a quick head-count before snuggling under the sheets. Jazzy was missing!
I looked in every nook and cranny in the house but she was nowhere to be found. My old standby of getting out a bag of treats didn't work either. A friend came over to drive the neighborhood to help look for her. My worst fear was a fox! Our search caravan looked until 11:30 before giving up and coming home to plan my search strategy.
In my upset, I wanted to make a poster and submit a “lost dog” report I couldn’t find her microchip number. Worse yet, I couldn’t find a current picture! I even have professional pictures of my little pup! Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much last night. Every little sound stirred me. I kept thinking I could hear her crying but each time I got up to check, she wasn't waiting at the front door.
This morning I awoke early and started my search. Very nervous since a storm is moving in, I created "Lost Dog" posters, posted to Craig’s List "Lost Pets" and Facebook "Colorado Springs Lost Pets, FindToto.com and then I prepared to hang the posters about the neighborhood - hoping to get them hung before the neighborhood kids started walking to school. Since I was shaking a little bit, I couldn’t get the staples loaded in my staple gun. I came back inside to sit at the counter and load the gun without shooting a staple through my finger…
Just then, I heard some scratching. It was coming from the bird room. Going in to make sure that Peachy wasn’t chewing the woodwork again, I realized that something was in the closet. Jez. What else could go wrong???
You guessed it! Jazzy came running out. What a relief. She was as stressed out as I had been. Poor dog has slept all day.
"Take Aways" For Finding Lost Birds
On hind sight, I have prepared a list of what to do before and if your pet escapes. This is also very handy information to keep should you need to prepare an Bird Recovery Kit.
- Microchip your pet and make sure that Microchip registration is current at least on an annual basis.
Have All Intel Handy: Create a template and a file or use a smart phone app such as Pets+ on each pet in your home that contains the following information:
- Take a new photo annually. Try to include photo's of any identifying marks or colorations. For instance, Timmy, our Timneh African Grey has splotchy red feathers on his neck area, while Sierra has a leg band.
- Update Microchip registration information annually.
- Create a" Lost Pet Template" with current photo and information on an annual basis. That way, it is almost ready to go when time is of the essence if your bird should fly off or your dog or cat go missing.
- Don't Forget the Power of Social: Update current online and social assistance resources annually, i.e. Craig's List, Local Facebook groups, Research based pet recovery groups such as FindToto.com for dogs
- Create a Local Contact List: Include Veterinarians, within a 5-10 mile radius, your local shelters, groomers, bird clubs or any other potential animal lovers who can help you quickly in a time of crisis.
- Create a list of friends and family to call "just in case" : A ground crew search party will be very helpful. These folks can start hanging up your pre-made poster, do a foot and car search, contact and call neighbors.
- Don't Give Up: While a recovery effort may be tiring, you can count on it that your pet is MORE stressed out than you are.
- Consistently work on Coming when Called for Dogs and Recall for Birds: For birds in particular Good Bird DVD's and Clicker Training for Birds are excellent resources. Get a book on how to Clicker Train your particular pet and do it consistently! Make sure that your pet knows to come to you when called.
Prepare your file and train your bird for recall today.
Do you have any lost or recovered pet recovery stories? Share with us in a comment.
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- Diane Burroughs, LCSW