Whole Dog Journal's Blog November 10, 2014

Feeling lost

Posted at 12:03PM - Comments: (12)

I've mentioned a bunch of times that I have helped find homes for a number of foster dogs, and helped friends who were looking for a certain type of dog to find one who fits into their family perfectly. As far as I know, all the dogs I've placed into homes continue to live happily in those homes - with one exception.

A couple of months ago - on the same trip to my local shelter when I picked up my recent litter of foster puppies - I saw the cutest little dog in the adoption ward. He looked like a miniature Border Collie, or a Sheltie-mix, and was perhaps six or seven months old. He had been picked up as a stray and had been in the shelter for about three weeks. He was a little shy with people at first, but once you had him in your lap (he weighed only about 20 pounds) he would give his heart right over to you (and yours to him). So sweet, so sharp, so cute. I took a little video of him dancing for attention in his kennel and sent it to a friend who had been looking for either a Border Collie (she lives on a ranch 20 miles from the closest town in the mountains) or a nice little "couch dog." This dog was like a perfect combination of her separate visions for her next dog or dogs.

She loved the video, and wanted the dog. The next day I picked up the little guy so I could foster him for a week in advance of his neuter surgery, so I could start his training and get to know him well enough to offer phone support for further training. My senior citizen friend has no income besides Social Security, so I paid the adoption fee.  At the end of the week, he knew a few basic cues, how to behave in the house, not to chase the cat or chickens, and that sleeping in crates (with your own private stash of bones and toys) is pretty cool. On a day that I had someone else to feed the litter of foster puppies, I put the little guy in my car and drove the 80 miles or so to my friend's house.

My friend loved the dog, and the dog loved her, and it seemed like he was fitting right in. The ranch cats schooled him ("Chase us, will you? Well, we will chase you right back, you ignorant puppy!"), he learned not to enter the horse pasture unattended (he got chased out of there, too), and while alarmed at first when my friend shouted during football games, he quickly saw that excitement as a fun opportunity to bark and shout, too. My friend joked that she was going to call him "Velcro," because he stayed glued to her side as she went slowly about her chores, feeding the chickens and the horses and checking the water troughs. Until one afternoon when he vanished. 

My friend didn't see him go. She says he was there one minute and the next - poof.

She says she called and called, and drove up and down her dirt road calling. She let all her friends and neighbors (such as they are, miles apart) know she was looking for a little Sheltie-looking dog. He was wearing one of my collars and tags, and he is microchipped. But no one reported seeing him. She decided a couple days later that coyotes must have gotten him.

I was on deadline with the last issue of WDJ while this was happening. If I could have, I would have driven immediately over and spent days walking those dirt roads and calling for him. As it was, four days later, after the issue was sent to the printer, I drove over and put up "lost dog" signs for miles around. There has been no sign of him nor word about him.

I know this happens - obviously, or the shelters wouldn't be full of stray dogs. Heck, he came into the shelter as a stray, picked up by county animal control! But my county is more populous than my friend's; where she lives, the odds of someone seeing him and calling animal control are abysmal. And she's right; out where she lives, the coyotes probably did get him.

Every time I see his picture - I took a bunch while I had him, he was so darn cute - it makes me feel so sad. I can't bear the thought of him running through the woods, lost. Despite all the fun I had fostering (and placing) the puppies, I'm kind of burned out on fostering for a while. I miss that little guy like he was my own dog.

Comments (12)

This is so sad and my heart goes out to all of you involved....but it sounds like YOU are exactly what is needed to help place and train all these sweet puppies....It must be your calling....and you have a very loving heart..please keep helping all those in need....they need you and pray... I am.... Thank you for caring.... We just rescued another pup. We have Mik, 15 1/2 now, Grace, 8 and our new Ddition, scruffy, around 4 or 5..,, our rescue person, Melissa is wonderful...like you her and her hubby love dogs.... Please keep saving them and give them a chance at a good life.. One can't control everything...but we do our best... Just everyone needs to be alert to those who steal or lure dogs away.... We need neighborhood...or farm areas watch.... And make sure neighbor's know your animals.... Have a blessed day...

Posted by: Scruf's mom | November 14, 2014 7:29 AM    Report this comment

Please, if you decide to contact a reputable animal communicator, check out Margrit Coates. She lives in the UK, however, is known worldwide for her services. You can find her by googling Margrit Coates animal healer.
I hope this little guy is found but I, too, know the loss and grief of losing a pet and not being able to find it. Our little "grand puppy" has been missing for almost 5 years now and the 'not knowing' is what hurts the most. Sending Love, Blessings, Prayers and Healing energies to your friend and her lost companion. He is gorgeous.

Posted by: lemonhead54 | November 11, 2014 9:44 PM    Report this comment

While too late now, do not discount asking somone who does AKC or UKC tracking, if they like to try to find a lost dog. But you need to get them onto a lost dog's track, within 12 hours of a sighting or the pet, being lost.

We have found that if you can scent the trained tracking dog with the lost dog's bedding, or if you've recently groomed him/her & have haircoat trapped in a comb or brush - that will work, esp if you know the approx area the pet dog was lost in, or last seen. (You can place the scent article in a kitchen draw-string trash bag, you can carry) in case you need to re-scent your dog.

We try to put the tracking dog down as near as possible to the right area, and scent them (with the lost animal's item) then wait until they indicate they have found the scent. We then move the tracking line from the collar onto the tracking harness, to indicate they are to start "serious work". Most dogs begin to work, like you've plugged them into a light socket, although it may still be slow going.

Dogs who live in large unfenced areas, do need tracking collars or GPS tags. Anybody with experience in hunting dogs or pack hounds, will tell you that.

My major metropolitian city (population 500,000) recently put up motion activated night cameras on our greenways (to see what sort of animal life they might have roaming the area). Half the cameras were pointed at the greenway paths, half towards the woods. While deer were the largest number of animals seen, the second highest number of animal seen were coyotes. A distant third were cats, which unfortunately tend to be a favorite food.... of coyotes.

Posted by: Betsy | November 11, 2014 4:25 PM    Report this comment

We live next to South Mountain Park in Phoenix, which is the largest municipal park in the US, and there are lots of coyotes - and javelina - that make it their home. My two girls are about 100 lbs. each, so one-on-one with a coyote, my money's on my dogs. However, coyotes have learned to hunt in packs and even singles have been known to lure a big dog away with play behavior - until the pack shows up. Since the park is so vast, it just feels like open desert with a mountain in the middle of it, and it is so very tempting to let the dogs run. But the leash laws apply there, and probably keep a lot of dogs safer for it, mine included. That is one sweet-looking little guy and I hope somehow he is found safe and sound. It happens sometimes, this would be a good time, too.

Posted by: MJC | November 11, 2014 1:23 PM    Report this comment

I've been privileged to share part of my life with 3 female shelties over the years and I dearly love this beautiful breed. The last 2, though, were very prone to taking off at any opportunity and I actually lost the second one (the only dog I've ever lost) in the mountains. Like your friend said, she was there one second and "poof" gone the next. We were hiking and she never left my golden retriever's side - until then. She had just jumped over the log where I was sitting reading a book. I finished the page, closed the book, said "OK, guys, let's go!" and looked around. She was gone, never to be seen again. My golden never indicated a wild animal's presence or anything out of the ordinary. The not knowing is devastating, I know from experience. I can't imagine losing a child! If your beloved pet dies, you grieve and deal with it, but losing one has no closure. I am so sorry for your loss. I agree it may be something in the shelties' genes.

Posted by: sharon Reamer | November 11, 2014 1:03 PM    Report this comment

I also am involved in foster. Bostons are velcro dogs and do not wander. Even so, we always tell the adopters to not allow the dog off leash for at least two weeks, unless in a secure fenced in area. The collie dog, really still a puppy, should have been tied near your friend or have been in a lockdown, such as a barn stall. He could have watched her while being safe. She could have tethered him to her. All of this is water under the bridge, but a sad warning for the rest of us. I live in the country so I know how tempting it is to let the dog loose, but dogs, especially young ones, are too unpredictable. We have coyotes and coy dogs and I've never lost a dog to one. I consider myself lucky since my border collie has spent so many hours outside loose.

You and your friend gave this warm little guy a wonderful life while you had him.

Posted by: Lacewing | November 11, 2014 11:53 AM    Report this comment

I don't know if she has a computer with internet capability, but if so, the solution would be a GPS tracker on the dogs collar, such a the Tagg tracker. None of mine go outdoors without one, and they have free range of thousands of acres of rural woods and fields, full of wildlife. If a coyote got this pup and he had a tracker, she could have pinpointed his location, and possibly saved his life. This apparatus is essential for anyone with a dog running free on unfenced property.

Posted by: cosmic | November 11, 2014 11:38 AM    Report this comment

We live in the city and do have a coyote or two living in the "green space" (or woods) behind our neighborhood. Our yard is fenced and my dogs have challenged a coyote through the fence (still probably five or so feet away), and had it back off and run into the woods. I have repeatedly warned neighbors if they have dogs/cats that run loose, coyotes have been seen in the neighborhood. So far, so good as I have not heard of anyone missing their furry friends.

Posted by: AB in AR | November 11, 2014 10:44 AM    Report this comment

I am an animal communicator as well as the rescue coordinator for the Hovawart Club of North America and active in other rescue groups. Lost animals are never our favorite animal communication assignment. They are tricky and not nearly as successful as we would like. Having said that, I did check in with this little guy. It does not feel like he is still with us. He says he was running and ran right out of his body, which is frequently how animals describe a sudden, unexpected death. I suspect it actually was a coyote.

My heart goes out to you and your friend who gave him a home. He shared a lot of love with both of you over a very short period of time. Animals are angels who bring out the angel in us.

Posted by: guardiandoula | November 11, 2014 10:41 AM    Report this comment

Oh dear--I feel so badly for your friend and for the poor dog (wherever he is). I, too, have a probable Sheltie mix, just under 30 pounds, that I have had since Feb of 2007. I adopted her from a foster but she originally came from a shelter where she had been left in the overnight drop box--history unknown. Her age at the time was estimated at about 8-10 months. She was severely underweight and so probably had been loose for some time. She is a sweet, intelligent, loving dog but in all the 7-1/2 plus years that I have had her I have never (despite all positive training) been able to win her total allegiance. If I take her to a dog park she ignores the other dogs and starts checking the perimeter for possible escape points (if someone approaches the gate she rushes there in hopes of escaping). At home she has, on occasion, gotten loose and, though she DOES remain in the vicinity, she is resistant to coming back inside, even for food, water and shelter--I have to basically trick her into being recaptured and she learns fast so I have to use a different method each time (fortunately I live in the country on a dead-end lane quite a distance from any heavily traveled roads--still I worry).
The weird thing is, if I go off and leave her with someone, she seems devastated when I leave and is thrilled when I come back --BUT, if when with me someplace she suddenly finds herself loose, then POOF--she has no problem with leaving ME! She does have a good recall--AS LONG AS she doesn't know yet that she is loose--once she does then she does the equivalent of thumbing her nose at me and she's gone. I keep two collars on her to connect the leash to just in case one breaks---I worry so much that she will get loose somewhere that she and I are unfamiliar with (we go hiking and visiting friends away from our home area) and then she'll be gone forever and, worse, may not luck onto such a nice home next time. She is microchipped and always has her tags on but I still worry.
After reading your blog I have to wonder if there is something in the Sheltie genes that predisposes to this behavior. I'd love to hear of any other issues like this because I still hold out a faint hope for a "cure" for this behavior.

Posted by: PJKutscher | November 11, 2014 10:31 AM    Report this comment

We just adopted our first rescue dog, a puppy. We live on an apple orchard in the boonies- not as remote as your friend, but no visible neighbors, either, and a crappy, narrow country road where people drive too fast. I've never had a dog as an adult, and I'm amazed at how much like a child he feels sometimes. We have a ranch fence along the road, but we've built an impenetrable fence around the back of the house, where the dog plays (always with us) to keep him safe and me sane (my kids are teenagers, I can't afford to worry about one more "child" loose in the world). Our dog is microchipped, and wears tags, but we have coyotes, too. It would be pretty devastating if anything happened to our guy, and my heart goes out to you.

But, for what it's worth, I've come to believe that people like you, and the folks who fostered our puppy, are angels. Like your six puppies, he and 3 siblings were dumped in a high kill shelter. They were rescued and fostered by folks who obviously loved and cared for them. When we came looking for our first dog, they helped us choose a puppy to fit a house with 2 indoor cats and teenagers, and the fit has been terrific (the cats still aren't convinced, but they'll come around). Our now 5-month old puppy has 5 dog cousins whom he loves to play with, and between them all, they can just about tolerate his endless energy; is in dog training on his way to being a good canine citizen (we hope) and has made our family complete, for now. My son thinks the puppy needs another dog, but taking on a puppy is not for sissies (but then, you took on six puppies...), and we're still in the thick of it, so for now we'll remain an only dog family.

In every way that matters, this dog has enriched and improved our lives. We can never repay the people who put the time in to make sure our guy came to us socialized, healthy, neutered and microchipped, but we will always think of them with extreme gratitude, and make sure when we have money to share, their rescue organization gets some of it.

I hope your heart eases, and I'll also hope that by some miracle, the little dog found another angel to help him. Peace.

Posted by: 1dog2kids4cats | November 11, 2014 10:25 AM    Report this comment

Have you tried contacting an animal communicator. I'm sure, with the photo above, they would be able to make a good link and let you both know whether it was the coyotes or in fact, something else. If he's still alive, there is a chance that this person could help you become reunited. There are many, many, many success stories, so please for all your sakes, find a reputable animal communicator and find out the true story behind his disappearance.
Good luck!!

Posted by: Caroliner | November 11, 2014 10:08 AM    Report this comment

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