During this past long holiday weekend, three non-local dogs have been seen running loose in this neighborhood. Being visitors, they were not familiar with their surroundings. Two were found by their owners within a few hours, but the third is still circling. Thankfully, we have now had some rain so he is finding a little water. Several neighbors have tried to get close enough to check his identification tags, but he is very skittish. He was dragging a leash but that might now be gone. I have been trying to get a photo of him. He/she is white or cream colored with dark markings or spots. He or she has short hair and is tall and lean.
We have not had any fireworks up here to frighten these dogs, but we have had lots of thunder. Dogs frequently will escape when frightened but if they are in familiar territory, they will do their best to find their way home. Imagine how frightening it would be for a dog to find himself running loose with no familiar landmarks or smells. And then there is more crashing thunder and he is getting very hungry.
It is terrible to think about your pet out there lost and hungry. And if you must head home and leave him behind, that is the worst. Be sure your pet has proper identification during your summer travels. Tape a cell phone number or the number of a friend or relative who knows how to reach you on the dog's tags. For added protection, get him microchipped. However, if your dog is timid, someone may not be able to get close enough to read the tags.
When traveling, it is best to keep your pet in a crate when you have to leave him alone. He will be safe in his own space with his own bedding and a toy or two. He may be unhappy or frightened, but he will be far less likely to panic. At least he will be in a secure place, a place that is comfortable for him. No matter where you go, the dog can have his familiar place and his own bedding. If a storm is threatening, place a lightweight covering over the crate.
There is a woman in Connecticut who specializes in finding lost pets. Her theory is that you should not take your pets on vacation, because it is too stressful for them. If you're like me, you want to take them along, but extra precautions will keep them safe. Some circumstances might suggest leaving the dog at a local kennel.
This pet finder says that if your pet does get lost, stay calm and come up with a good plan to find him. Always report a lost or found dog to the nearest humane society. Drive around calling his name and stop every car or pedestrian you pass to ask if they have seen your dog. Have a photo of him and show it to everyone. Print up fliers with a photo, but few words and post them everywhere, particularly at the post office, stores and restaurants where people gather. Provide tear-off tabs with your phone number.
While traveling, be sure your pet's ID tags are on securely. There should be a rabies tag, his license, a tag with a contact phone number, and a tag if he has been microchipped.
We have domesticated our pets to the point where they are totally dependent on us. They no longer have the skills required to hunt for food and find water and shelter. Some dogs can survive for a while. But predators are out there and when a pet is scared and weak from hunger and lack of water, he could be easy prey.
We remember Lassie who found her way home. But with interstates and large cities, it is not an easy task. Let's keep them safe with us.
Don't forget to keep those water bowls clean and full during this hot weather. And watch for stickers and fox tails. My Higgins suddenly had a large swelling below his ear. Dr. Gonzales pulled a fox tail out from deep within the ear canal. If your dog or cat is shaking his head, scratching or limping, check between the pads of the feet and look in the ears. But if there is swelling or infection, visit your veterinarian right away.
A few columns ago, I mentioned a dog that was at the Payson Humane Society needing a ride to Wyoming where his owner now lived. The owner could not afford to come for him. Some kind person did call and the dog and owner are now happily reunited. It is always nice to have a happy ending.
Speaking of happy endings, my two highway rescue pups are thriving, loving and as cute as can be. They are hoping for a loving home and family of their own. Call (928) 476-2239 to see these adorable girls.
-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.