There is no other feeling quite as bad as discovering your dog is missing. You panic as you try to think of the best way to find him, but it’s hard to remember everything at once. What do you do?
1. Call for help! Finding your dog is more likely with all your friends looking. Your local Samoyed Rescue group has been through this before, and has a checklist and lots of contacts all over the northwest. If you grab your cell phone and call us as you are circling your neighborhood for the first time, we can put out the word to your friends immediately. Please don’t wait.
2. Make a quick circuit around your immediate area. Keep the window down and tell everyone you see that you are looking for your dog. If you have more than one dog, take another dog along. Ask friends who are helping to take a dog with them. A lost dog is more likely to come up to a stranger with a dog than one without. NEVER chase a dog who is loose. Get down low and talk softly. If that doesn’t work, run the other way and call and they will usually chase you to play. This may sound silly, but don’t forget to take a leash and food with you when you’re out looking.
3. If you don’t find him fast, go home and print flyers, or ask someone close to you to do it. Don’t be fancy, just put LOST DOG on it in large letters with your phone number and a picture of your dog. Don’t use a show photo; use something that shows a family member and the dog happily together. You don’t want people looking for a show dog they can sell, but for a loved family pet. If you don’t have a picture of your dog, find a picture of a Samoyed. Most people won’t know the difference and you can look for a better picture later.
4. Walk around the neighborhood and knock on doors. Leave a copy of the flyer with everyone who answers the door. Ask them to call friends who live close by and tell them about it. By this time you should have friends helping, so get them to do the same thing. If you see a postal carrier or UPS driver or anybody making deliveries, give them a flyer. Don’t say your dog is microchipped, but let people know he can be easily identified. Often people will see a stray and rationalize that someone didn’t care about him to let him run loose, and they won’t try very hard to look for the owner.
5. GO to all the shelters. Don’t just call. Visit in person or get someone else to do it. File a missing dog report. If your dog is microchipped, call the chipping company and report a lost dog. If you didn’t get around to filling out that information card the vet gave you when he was chipped, call the vet’s office and make sure they have your current phone numbers (the vet is where the chipper will call). If you have a rescue dog, call us instead because we chipped him here.
6. Visit grocery stores, restaurants, butcher shops, and every other place a dog’s stomach will want to investigate. One dog in Seattle who got out more than once always headed for his favorite restaurant. Visit homes in your neighborhood again and talk to people who weren’t home the first time. Keep putting up flyers on power poles (it isn’t legal in some cities but this isn’t a time to be technical about that).
7. Most Samoyeds who escape will run between one and two miles before they get tired. Often they will stop to rest on someone’s porch. Start branching out and enlarging your search area. Make sure you have flyers posted in every direction for at least two miles.
8. Advertising for a lost dog in the newspaper is free, and you can place an ad by phone. Do it immediately. Make sure you post something on Craigslist and the Petfinder classifieds. Go to the police station and file a lost property report. Tell them your insurance company insists you file a report before you can file a claim.
9. Contact every vet. Call groomers and pet supply stores. If you are in an urban area ask retailers if you can put a flyer in their window.
10. Sometimes it takes a while before you find your dog. Keep going to shelters, and check their dead list. It’s easier to know if the worst has happened. Go every day, and don’t depend on the shelter to call you. Don’t depend on the microchip company to call you. You are in charge of this search, so be persistent.
11. Don’t give up! People who find a dog will often keep it because they don’t want to take it to a shelter. After a couple days with a wet and dirty Samoyed they may change their mind or give him to a friend. The friend may take the dog to a shelter outside your area. Check shelters in the next county. Keep looking!
Now, what can you do to make things easier if this ever happens? If it has been a few months since you walked around the yard, now is a good time. Fences need repair, so check to see if boards are broken or nails have come loose. Is the latch on the gate still good enough if a dog jumps up on it to see what is on the other side? Have you put something next to the fence the dog can use to jump over? That once happened to us, when one of our dogs used a compost pile to launch over the top of the fence.
Is your best friend microchipped? If not, call your vet and ask about it. Or call rescue, because we chip all our rescues and we are happy to do other Samoyeds too (your vet may not be in the office when your dog is found and scanned, but if our phone rings at 2 am we answer it).
Take snapshots until you get a good picture of a well-loved and happy Samoyed you can use if something ever happens. Go ahead and make up a flyer. If you make one, you’ll never need it – right?
The best piece of advice we can give: THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO RECOVER A LOST DOG IS MAKE SURE HE IS WEARING A COLLAR AND A TAG WITH YOUR PHONE NUMBER. You can also use a felt pen and write your number on his collar if you don’t like tags. A good quality collar won’t hurt his coat and it’s invaluable if he is lost.
Some of these ideas originally came from the USDA Missing Pets Network at http://missingpet.net/. You can check there for more information. Thanks to Sidney Boardman, director, for the article this is based on.