Not all lost animals wind up at the shelter. Sometimes they go through amazing adventures before making their way home again.
Vicky Pasenko, a long-time volunteer at C.A.R.E. Evanston Animal Shelter, happened to take a lost-dog report so unusual that she stayed in touch with the owner throughout the ordeal, giving advice and support. Afterward, Vicky visited the owner and shared this report with C.A.R.E.
SCHATZI, LOST THEN FOUND
By Vicky Pasenko, C.A.R.E. Volunteer
There was nothing about the morning of Wednesday, April 11, to indicate to Edith what a nightmare the day would become. She’d been out running some errands with her daughter.When she returned home, her friend from down the hall said she’d been trying to reach her. Edith’s friend wanted to take a walk, and she wanted to take Schatzi with her. The request was not unusual: the friend liked to bring along Schatzi, Edith’s 5-year-old Lhasa Apso, as her walking companion. So off they went.
The nightmare began when a policeman knocked on Edith’s door late that afternoon. Edith was informed that her friend had died of a heart attack. This tragic loss hit hard. Then she realized that Schatzi was missing. The officer said he would return the dog to her the next day, but morning came and went. Edith went to the closest police station only to learn that no one had any idea where Schatzi had gone.
Through her own inquiries of people in the neighborhood, Edith began to piece together the story that an unidentified couple had taken Schatzi with them. One man who often walks his dogs in the park had even chatted with them, but he hadn’t recognized Schatzi and didn’t think to ask for their names.
With no information to go on, Edith began plastering the area with missing dog fliers. She and her friends and family visited or called local shelters and veterinarians. They contacted rescue workers who had been on the scene. Edith walked in the park every day, hoping she would see someone walking Schatzi. Days turned into weeks and still no word. Would she ever see him again?
Finally, on Thursday, May 3—about three weeks after Schatzi had disappeared—the phone rang. A woman said, “I think we have your dog.” Edith was almost afraid to believe it was true. Since Edith doesn’t have a car the caller said her husband would drop the dog off. When the car pulled up and the dog was really Schatzi, it was a dream come true for both of them. Schatzi pulled Edith back to the elevator and then ran to his own front door. Once inside he did puppy zooms around the apartment until he was exhausted.
It was a happy ending for Edith and Schatzi. Edith graciously agreed to share her story so that the things she learned from this terrible experience might help someone else.
FOR PEOPLE WHO’VE LOST A DOG:
Make sure your dog wears a tag with your phone number. The number must be current, and legible, and the dog must wear it at all times. Schatzi wasn’t wearing his tag that day because like many people, Edith didn’t like the clinking noise the tags make. She now knows that you can purchase plastic coverings to silence the tags.
Microchip your dog for identification in case the collar or tag is lost. This will allow a shelter or a vet to identify you as the dog owner and help trace the dog back to you.
Get the word out about your lost dog in every way possible – i.e. Facebook, Lost Dog Illinois, Craigslist, local shelters, police stations, veterinary offices. Leave no stone unturned.
If your dog is lost, put up fliers immediately, and everywhere. Ultimately it was a flier that brought Schatzi home. Although the family who had him did not live in the immediate area, apparently the husband came back to that area for some reason and saw a flier.
Don’t give up hope. We hear stories of dogs that come home after weeks (like Schatzi) or sometimes after months. Keep looking and keep others interested in looking as well.
FOR THOSE WHO FIND A DOG:
Think “lost” not “stray.” Don’t assume the dog is homeless and no one is looking for it. Even if the dog is thin or dirty, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a loving owner out there trying to find the dog.
Check the dog for identification tags or rabies tags and use those to trace the owner. Take the dog to a vet or local shelter and have them check for a microchip.
Make it easier for the dog owner to find you. Post “found dog” fliers in the area where the dog is found. Post a “found dog” notice on Lost Dogs Illinois and on Craigslist. Contact local shelters and give them information regarding the dog you found in case the owner calls.
Don’t assume that you will provide a better home for the dog than the person who lost it. I recently had someone tell me that if the people who lost the dog cared about it it wouldn’t have been walking around without a collar. Dogs escape from their owners all the time and most of the time the owner is a loving, caring, responsible person and the dog just managed to get away. It happens.
The people who returned Schatzi to Edith did not share any information with her, and she was so anxious and grateful to get him back that she didn’t push. We have no idea of their motivation in taking him home with them or what they assumed about who owned him, but he is home and that is what really matters.
After a good bath, some treats and lots of love, Schatzi is as good as new. And he now wears his ID tags every single day.