Picture this – a stormy day in Georgia. Trees swaying, rain pounding down, thunder rumbling, and an occasional flash of lighting. Culvert overflowing, rainwater flowing across the front of our lawn like a fast-moving stream. My wife sees out near the front of our driveway a white dog first heading one way up our cross street, then the other way a few minutes later. Obviously lost and scared, we’ve come across another lost dog, this time practically at our doorstep. We’ve done this a few times, but do you know what to do if you find a lost dog?
My wife is not one to hesitate. Half a second later, she pulls the car out of the garage and heads down the driveway (it’s a long driveway).
By the time she got to the cross street, the soggy little white dog was walking to meet her.
This lost, drenched dog was walking right down our driveway. And we live in a fairly secluded spot.
This, by the way, lends credence to my theory that our house has been identified on the telebark as the place where lost dogs should go.
My wife got the dog in the car, and I met her in the garage. The poor pup was drenched but ridiculously friendly (and cute!). A young female white husky with beautiful eyes.
Take a look:
We found a lost dog. Now what?
We have a lot of dogs, and we didn’t want to take the chance of a fight and the lost pooch possibly getting hurt, so we set her up with food, water, and a nice warm (and dry!) bed in the garage.
I mentally started making plans to fit her into our already large dog family. Due to our very poor history of finding owners of lost dogs, this is an automatic mindset for me these days.
But, as luck would have it, we found her owners the next day!
Read through to see how that happened.
Find the owner of a lost dog
When we find a lost dog, there are several steps we take every time, and one new one we’ve just learned about:
- Drive the neighborhood, looking for anybody that appears to be looking for a lost dog.
- Track via our FI Smart collars network.
- Scan for a microchip at our Vet.
- Look through the Ring neighborhood entries for lost dogs.
Historically, we’re great at rescuing dogs but not so good at finding homes for them. This time around, the result would be a bit different for us.
Drive the neighborhood
Our first step is to drive around the surrounding neighborhoods to see if anybody is out looking for a lost dog.
We have been successful exactly 0% of the time with this approach, but I always do it first anyway.
So I drove around with the windows down, seeing if anybody was out looking for a lost dog. Trying to hear, over the storm, if anybody was calling for a lost dog (as I’ve done before).
No luck. I later found out why this didn’t work this particular time.
Alert our FI Smart Collar network
Our dogs have FI smart collars, and we’ve developed a bit of a neighborhood network of dog owners, so I put the word out there that we had found a dog.
I got many well-wishers hoping I had luck finding my dog, so I had to re-explain that my dog wasn’t lost, but that I had found one and did anybody else lose one.
This was the first time I’d tried this since we have had the FI collars for only a short time. As you may expect by now, I had no luck, so I’m currently at a 0% success rate with that as well.
Microchip scan with vet
Our next step is to always take the dog to our vet, who will scan for a microchip to determine the owner. This is almost always a free service, but a call ahead of time may be worth it.
As with driving through neighborhoods, we’ve had a 0% success rate with this approach. I think it’s a valid step, but the dogs we find have not been microchipped. Still, I highly recommend this.
But it was Saturday afternoon, so our next vet visit would have to wait a few days.
Our son just happened to visit the next day, and of course, we showed him the lost pooch.
We talked briefly about what we had done to find the owner, and he said, “Oh, let me look at Ring.” It took him about two minutes to find the lost dog’s owner.
I thought he was kidding, and he showed me a picture of a family looking for their lost dog since the day before. She was a white Husky, ran at the sound of thunder, and they even had a picture of her.
The notice said she would not have her collar on, was super friendly, and described those wonderful eyes.
It was her!
My son sent a note to the family, who lived about 5 miles away. That’s why driving through the neighborhoods didn’t help. This poor pup had run about five miles through the storm to end up in our driveway – lost, confused, and terrified.
The family showed up about 10 minutes later, and you could tell this pup missed them as much as they missed her. The reunion was a joy to watch.
We’re now at a 100% success rate using the Ring doorbell network to reunite lost dogs with their owners. :-)
Finding a lost dog – lesson learned
The Ring doorbell seems to be a godsend for this type of thing. We don’t have one, but my son does. He said the messages from the Ring network are a near-constant feed of unusual people knocking on doors (danger announcements) and people with lost pets.
Weirdos at the doors stealing packages by day, lost dogs by night.
As a result of this latest log dog event, we have decided to get a Ring doorbell. Our house is pretty isolated, so it makes sense anyway.
Other ways to find the owner of a lost dog
Finding the owner of a lost dog involves putting yourself in their shoes. If you lost a dog, a beloved family member, what would you do to find it?
Would you post about it on social media?
Reach out to all local veterinarians and groomers?
Post on social media?
Look for flyers to see if anybody has found your pooch?
Reverse engineer these things and then take steps to meet the lost dog owner where they probably are. Here are a couple of other thoughts that may work for you, but we’ve had little luck with:
- Check for an ID tag on the collar if the dog wears one. Tags should have the phone number to the associated vet. If so, bingo! I don’t think we’ve ever found a lost dog with a collar on.
- Put up flyers around your neighborhood. We’re pretty isolated where we live, so maybe that’s why this doesn’t work for us. I can see it working in a more closely-knit area where folks know each other and know each other’s dogs.
- Post on lost dog websites. We’ve done this but with no luck. I think, again, because we are far away from larger areas. In a more well-established area, this may be a great method. There are a few to try. The primary concern is how many people are looking for your neighborhood or area. If there is good traffic, give it a shot!
- Reach out to local vets and animal shelters. Again, no luck here for us, but give it a shot. If I lost a dog, I would contact local professionals to let them know and see if anybody has contacted them with a found dog. So it makes sense.
- Google “veterinarians near me” to understand who to contact. Draw a circle on a map, maybe 5 miles around your house or where the dog was last seen, and start making calls.
- Reach out to local businesses such as groomers, doggie day cares, pet stores, etc.
- Post on social media. I don’t think your friends on the other side of the world will help much, but this may be a great approach depending on your network.
But wait, there’s more…
When the family came to pick up the puppy, they were super excited, as you can imagine. We talked briefly, and in the end, they took the beautiful pup back home; Nya was her name.
About a week later, we got a card of thanks in the mail, a couple of pictures, and a check.
Reading the card and understanding how important this pup was to the family (and her big brother in the picture), made us feel good about the effort we put in to ensure we could reunite her with her family. They even added notes to the back of each picture with names and dates, just like you would for family (of course!).
They sent a very generous check. We’ll use it as a donation in their name to Paws Atlanta (a local no-kill shelter), or maybe it’ll go toward a Ring doorbell. I haven’t decided yet.
What to do if you find a lost dog – recap
We love dogs, so we take this to a different level than others. But if you find one, remember it’s worth driving the neighborhoods to see if some kid is out there crying for a lost puppy. Check with a local vet – they’ll scan the dog for free, and if it is microchipped, you’ve just become a hero. And if you have a Ring doorbell or a smart dog collar, use those networks as well.