By Janet McAfee
Your pet is missing! Maybe your dog or cat dodged out the front door of an unfamiliar home with a pet sitter. Maybe a gardener left a gate open, or maybe Fido dug under a fence during the many days of Fireworks 2020. Maybe a dog napper grabbed your pet while you dodged into Starbucks for a quick cup of coffee. Sadly, dog theft is up during the pandemic when a thief can “flip” your beloved pet for $100 in quick cash.
Do not give up. Dogs and cats that are microchipped have shown up years later in shelters thousands of miles away. Sammy’s story provides ideas for pet owners in case their beloved pup or kitty gets lost. This can happen to the most conscientious and careful pet owner. If your pet does not have an engraved ID tag with your cell phone, get one now at Petco or PetSmart.
Social media is one of the best tools at your disposal for finding lost animals. The website www.NextDoor.com can send a photo and information about your pet to thousands in your surrounding community. Most communities have a Facebook page dedicated to help find missing pets. A REWARD listed on flyers will get more attention, including that of someone who may be holding your pet. Notify your microchip company of your pet’s status, make flyers to hand out and post, mobilize search parties and go door to door. Talk to people in the locale where your pet went missing. Bring your dog’s canine companion to help search. Pebbles, the brown dog pictured here, is a hero dog that helped find buddy Sammy.
Here is the story of Sammy, a small dog who recently defied the odds after going missing in a remote mountain area for 5 days. Animal lover Lyn Thornton best describes her incredible efforts to find her dog on her personal Facebook page. While you might not have to climb up a steep ravine to find your pet, we learn from the success stories. Knowing your dog and your neighborhood determines what you do to find him. Sammy was a frightened pup when adopted from a Riverside County shelter, and Lyn knew she was unlikely to approach strangers, particularly when in flight mode. Lyn offers more good advice to searchers, “Don’t chase a dog on the run. Try to get them to come to you.”
Lyn tells Sammy’s story with the heading “LONG POST ALERT”.
“So last Thursday, while at our home in the mountains, a worker left the door open after being told not to even open it. Sammy was frightened by them, bolted out the door, and up the street to the Sheep Creek Wash. I ran up there in time to see her run down into the wide wash, cross over to the other side, and disappear into the forest. I was distraught! I knew we were in trouble. It was early morning so I sprang into action, contacted my people to try to help bring her home.
Lisa Fein Blodgett did all the work from home base; compiling posters, getting contact numbers, brainstorming, and crying with me. This isn’t our first ‘Rodeo’ so we knew what to do. I called the Pet Psychic (Cherie Vergini). Also the Animal Tracker, Mike Noon. Together these three kept me semi-sane so I could tackle this job at hand and bring her home. I knew I was pretty much on my own otherwise. Mike gave me instructions how to set my scent at strategic places to try to lure her into staying in the same spot. The Pet Psychic was giving me locations of visions Sammy was sending her.
Over the next few days I would continue working with them, spending hours sitting in certain spots, talking to my other dog Pebbles animatedly in hopes Sammy would hear us. It also made me very hoarse. The sleepless nights were worse cuz all I could do is stay home and pray she didn’t get eaten by a predator, coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes! Every Wrightwood full timer had to remind me how dangerous that was for not only Sammy, but for me as well. Most told me not to expect to find her. My buddy, Valerie Griego, helped me spread awareness by hanging flyers in town and up strategic streets.
On Sunday morning I hiked around the streets near the wash and ran into a lady at the very top who told me on Saturday morning she spotted a little black dog run up into the ravine above the wash. It’s steep up there and she thought it was really odd since she looked well cared for and was wearing a pretty purple collar with a heart shaped name tag. She tried but couldn’t catch her. That was our break! With her direction and the advice of the Pet Tracker, Pebbles and I hiked up the ravine and sat for a couple of hours. I swapped out my shirt and left it secured with rocks in that spot. Also a wash cloth my dogs had been sleeping with.
Early the following morning I got a call from the Pet Psychic who told me she was getting a vision from Sammy…..She was drinking from a stream….She had been frightened by a big white dog and ran back into the bushes. (I later learned that big white dog was a lady’s dog that lives near the wash. They were on their morning walk!!) I was exhausted, but I got up there as quick as I could. Pebbles and I hiked way back up into the ravine. Sometimes I had to carry Pebbles as it was so steep. With the psychic’s direction I found the spot she thought she had seen Sammy drinking. Ironically it was just upstream from where I had left my shirt the day before. Pebbles seemed to be still looking everywhere, all of a sudden she tried to dart off my lap after something. Pebbles was looking at something at the steep top of the ravine.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sammy! She was way up above us! I started giving Pebbles treats and soon Sammy started crying. I didn’t look at her. I knew she couldn’t make it down from where she was because it was so steep. I got up to walk downhill, downstream, to see if I could find a better place for her to make it down to us. I was hoping she would follow. In the process I fell on the rocks and really messed up my knee. After getting up I found a place to sit with Pebbles. Within 60 seconds of us sitting down Sammy made her way down the side of the ravine and came running up into my lap!
I was overjoyed, however in my rush to leave I forgot to pick up the extra leash off the table. I had to remove Pebbles leash and put it on Sammy. Poor Pebbles had to walk out with me, off leash while I carried Sammy. Once out of the ravine I stopped to take a couple pictures, hanging onto Sammy with all my might. We all three got into the car and drove home. It was a joyful reunion with the other dogs.
Besides being starved and dirty Sammy seemed pretty much unscathed. She’s limping, her rear leg is sensitive and one of her paw pads was ripped off. I think my knee is something a good steroid injection can fix. The scrapes, cuts bruises, and bug bites are healing! And oh…between the sweating and worry I managed to drop 8 lbs!
So there were many lessons I learned here. But the two most important are I will never jeopardize my pets’ safety to accommodate a worker who is coming into my home. And….I will ALWAYS have a good pair of running shoes at the mountain house from now on. It seems that slip on Sketchers tennis shoes are not ideal to hike or run in! Tonight our WHOLE family is together again! I chose not to post anything about this on Facebook while it was going on. I simply could not focus on anything other than the situation at hand. I thank from the bottom of my heart all of the people who helped make this horrible experience turn out so well.”