by Kathryn R. Gubista
Imagine your best friend of over three years suddenly leaving one day, unannounced, and never being seen again. You find yourself utterly heartbroken and devastated. You are confused because you have spent every single day in the company of your best friend, but now she is gone. To make matters worse, you cannot contact her and she cannot contact you. You cannot call her cell phone or send an email. What is most tragic is that your friend did not mean to leave your life. She dreams of being home by your side, but she cannot do it on her own. She cannot ask anyone for help. She is truly lost and needs help.
This unfortunate scenario can become a living nightmare for some unfortunate pet owners. There are countless reasons why dogs are lost, typically caused by some unpredicted mishap. For instance, loud noises, like thunder, terrorize dogs and make them run for the hills during storms or fireworks. However, dogs do not run away only out of fear. Many dogs love to run because it is fun. A dog’s natural canine instinct is to run and chase squirrels, bunnies and other little, unsuspecting creatures. Dogs will take off in hot pursuit after their “prey toys.” It is all fun and games to them, until they are lost and have no clue how to get back home.
Then there are dogs who are consummate wanderers. No yard can hold them. Their playground is the world, and they are up for an adventure. Lolly (short for Lollypop) is an example of the consummate wanderer. Lolly is a strong, athletic, 3 1/2 year mix of Australian Shepherd, Blue Tick Heeler and/or Coonhound. Her favorite pastime of jumping the fence to roam the neighborhood developed into a real problem this summer. Her silly mischief turned into heartbreak on Memorial Day Monday, 25 May, 2015, when she jumped the fence of her North Asheville yard and disappeared. Friends and family attempted to find her, but she was nowhere.
Days turned into weeks and Lolly’s family gave up hope. They packed up and moved across North Carolina to settle in Raleigh. However, on 22 July, over 8 weeks after Lolly’s departure, her family received a call from a shelter in Winston-Salem, 150 miles east of Asheville. Lolly was wandering the area without any tags and without a human. Luckily, the shelter scanned for a microchip and notified her family. Her journey, covering 150 miles over 2 months, is unknown. However, this journey would not have had a “happy ending” if not for the tiny microchip embedded in her skin.
Having a microchip implanted in your pet can help your lost dog find his or her way home. Microchips are painless for both dogs and human pocketbooks, and can help you avoid the pain of losing your best friend forever. Shelters nationwide report a greater return-to-owner rate when animals are microchipped versus when not. However, it is critical to register the microchip in the national database to be of any real value. Please microchip your pets – for the love of dog!
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD offers concierge training from The Dog’s Perspective through Lucky Dog Training LLC and has over 30 years of training experience in obedience, tracking, agility, sheepherding, dock diving and fieldwork. Kathryn is an evolutionary biologist and teaches a diversity of biology courses in higher education settings.
Photo Caption: Lolly in Summer 2015