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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Who Let the Dog Out? by Bea Tifton

Sometimes a dull, predictable day takes an interesting turn. It was raining lightly and the dogs were snuffling around before the rain worsened. My senior terrier pug does *not* like walking on wet grass, so he was grumbling a bit. My father’s mini labradoodle began barking excitedly and I caught a flash of red fur just outside the fence. I thought at first it was a cat, but when I walked over there I realized it was a small dog, peering in the chain link fence and trying to make friends. When I ran into the house and out to the side of the yard, the little dog pancaked but didn’t try to run. I scooped him up as the rain began in earnest and put him in the bathroom before running out to the backyard to retrieve my dogs, who were sitting under the covered porch in front of the back door with a collective, “I’d like to see the manager” look on their faces. 

When I went back into the bathroom to check on our guest, I put out some food and water. He drank the water but seemed uninterested in the food, which told me he hadn’t been lost for long. He was damp, of course, but his fur was glossy and he looked well cared for. No collar. I tried to give the people who owned him the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe it had fallen off.

What to do? Throughout the day, I made the rounds of the online lost pet sites like Pawboost and consulted Nextdoor. I took numerous photos of the cutie. He didn’t seem overly concerned, a little nervous but very friendly and affectionate. It was pretty apparent he was a lost pet and not an abandoned one.

My vet checked for a microchip, but there wasn’t one. I left a “Found Dog” post on Nextdoor and waited. If you ever find a pet, Dear Reader, insist on seeing some photos and/or vet records. People can claim a dog that isn’t theirs for a variety of nefarious reasons, from thinking they just want to keep the dog as a pet to the more gruesome goal of selling the pet to a lab or using him as bait for dog fight training.

My little house guest spent the night in the bathroom, and I washed my hands each time I played with him before I left the room. He looked healthy, but I had to protect my own pets (I also thoroughly scrubbed out the bathroom when he was gone).  

The next morning, I had a message with a photo on Nextdoor from his worried owner. I called her and her husband came to pick up little Luke that morning. The dog was ecstatic at reuniting with his person, and the man was clearly relieved and snuggled Luke into his arms. They were new to the neighborhood, but the woman admitted Luke was a little escape artist, but that “he usually came back home.” She was very gracious when I sent her a link to the microchipping site from the city. I hope they tighten up their fence, add a collar and a microchip, and aren’t so unconcerned about their seven pound dog going on walkabout in the future. They were nice people and they clearly loved their pet.

If you have a small child, you probably don’t let the youngster roam the city alone. Dogs have the emotional intelligence of toddlers. And even in the best neighborhoods, people can steal them, cars can hit them, other animals can attack them, or they roam so far they just can’t find their way home. I have small dogs and I go out with them but I know not everyone feels that’s necessary. My pets also have collars with pet id tags engraved with their names and my phone number. I have microchipped all of them. Most cities have animal shelters that will microchip at a reduced price. It’s $20 in my city. Go online and register your pet when they are microchipped, uploading a photo. Dog proof your fences and make sure no one leaves the gate open. Your companions are depending on you to keep them safe.

Photo Credits:
Roman Odintsov "Brown Short Coated Medium Sized Dog on Brown Dirt"
Bilge Seyma Kutukoglu "Puppies Sitting Behind Fence"
Rachel Claire "Crop Man with Puppy in Hands"
Ron Lach "Girl Holding an Open Umbrella While Standing Beside Brown Dog"


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