There are several things we take for granted on a day-to-day basis. We often take for granted simple things. We take for granted simple things that we are usually able to do or we take for granted our loved ones.
Last Saturday evening I found out my friend Caroline’s dog Lolly went missing that afternoon at about 5pm. Lolly has been such a big part of Caroline’s, mine and my brother’s life over the past 2 years. We never expected that we would lose her. She’s a part of our family. When I found out Lolly had gone missing after an off-leash walk at Crawford Lake Conservation Area which has over 19km of hiking trails, I was really overwhelmed on how it would be possible to find her.
On Saturday night, I started off with a Lolly disappearance Facebook post and asked all of my friends to share it. I then looked up, joined and posted in several lost dog Facebook groups. Shortly after I made my posts, I was overwhelmed with how quickly my posts were being shared.
1. Lost & Found Pets of Milton (13 Shares)
2. Lost & Found Pets of Toronto (24 Shares)
3. Lost & Found Pets of Halton & Peel Regions (398 Shares)
4. Lost & Found Pets of Halton Region (32 Shares)
5. Lost & Found Pets of Ontario (36 Shares)
6. My own personal Facebook post (42 Shares)
I had over 500 shares (in these amazing groups I never knew existed) in just a few hours! I was then reached out to (almost instantaneously), by a local dog finding expert.
Caroline and I were given tips on the best ways to find and secure Lolly from when we would go out with friends to try to find her Sunday morning. After having 11 people scour the Crawford Lake Conservation Area trails for several hours Sunday afternoon, handing out hundreds of flyers, we were discouraged that there was no sign of Lolly. We hadn’t gotten any calls or ledes the entire day. Losing a dog in a huge conservation area surrounded by acres of farmland and open fields, we were lost.
Caroline and I, shared our disappointing news with Denise (the dog finding expert who had been giving us the tips). Denise called Caroline and discussed the details of Lolly’s disappearance. We made a plan for Caroline’s dad and I to go back to Milton to meet Denise the next day.
We met Denise Monday morning. She briefly explained the best way to get Lolly back home. Soon after we met up, we got started on our mission. Denise and I started by handing out flyers in every mailbox in the neighbourhood surrounding the conservation area. Lolly could’ve been anywhere by Monday. Caroline’s dad started by getting posters and flyers printed in colour. We didn’t realize the importance of coloured posters and flyers. Coloured posters and flyers are more attention grabbing and give a more accurate description of a dog’s appearance.
After Denise and I handed out hundreds of flyers, the 3 of us met back at the Crawford Lake Conservation Area parking lot to assemble bristol board posters. After the assembly of our posters we started to hang up a few (to try and get the attention of commuters during afternoon rush-hour) until we received a call Lolly had been spotted.
After an exhausting weekend, someone saw Lolly sprint northbound through their property. The 3 of us were ecstatic, but nervous. We started knocking door to door to neighbouring properties from where she was spotted. We started to receive more calls of more Lolly sightings. As we received more calls, we finally started to figure out the circle she was running in which made it easier to eventually locate her. Once we saw Lolly on someone’s property a few kilometres away from where she disappeared, similar to other sightings, she quickly ran away from us too. We knew though, that she would be back shortly.
At this point it was getting dark and we knew the last bit of daylight was crucial in securing Lolly. The kind owners of the property Lolly kept running back to (where we saw & secured Lolly) were so graciously patient with our mission. As we had predicted, Lolly had come running back as fast as she had ran off. This was the time. The 3 of us knew how important it was to be as calm as possible. Denise got Caroline’s clothes & Lolly’s treats out of her car in order to secure Lolly. Lolly was scoping us out. It was obvious she recognized us and our scent but was very skeptical… and terrified. We laid Caroline’s clothes out in a line that lead to Caroline’s dad holding a bag of treats. Denise and I watched Lolly as she anxiously looked at Caroline’s dad. We were quickly losing daylight and the minutes dragged on and on waiting for Lolly to do something. We waited and waited for what seemed like forever. We didn’t know how she would react.
Suddenly, something inside Lolly ticked and she slowly sniffed Caroline’s clothes and walked up to Caroline’s dad. It was getting darker and it was hard to see whether Caroline’s dad had actually secured Lolly with her leash. As we saw Caroline’s dad walk up closer to us, we saw Lolly on her leash, I burst out crying. Lolly was secured just a few minutes before it got completely dark after a full 48 hours of looking for her. Overwhelmed, tired but mostly excited, I was so thankful and excited to share the news with Caroline, my brother, friends and family.
Securing Lolly and holding her again for the first time after an emotional and exhausting 48 hour search made me feel overwhelmingly grateful. I was so happy to see so many friends, family and strangers rally together through Facebook shares for such an important cause and I was so happy Lolly was safe and coming back home. Losing and finding Lolly was an emotional experience none of us will ever forget.
Another shout out to Denise who made getting Lolly home safe possible!
Here are 5 things to remember if you’ve lost your dog!
1. Join Lost Pet Facebook Groups & Share Online
As I previously mentioned, me joining, posting and sharing information on Lolly and her disappearance is what led us to meet Denise. Denise is the sole reason Lolly is now home safe! There are several groups and locals who are so eager to help reconnect lost dogs and their families. You are bound to find someone in your area who can give you area specific tips when you join these types of groups. You might even find someone who will physically go out with you to look for you dog too!
2. Coloured Posters & Flyers
Don’t underestimate the power of getting the word out through signage. Though this might seem like the old fashion time consuming way (it is very time consuming), it is the best way to get people in the area aware that your dog is missing. Many people aren’t online and wouldn’t hear about your lost dog if it wasn’t for your flyers or posters.
3. Go Door to Door
As well as handing out flyers, going door to door enforces how much finding your dog means to you and how urgent the situation is. Going door to door not only enforces urgency but might give you additional details about a sighting you otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
4. Understand Your Dog is Scared — Be Calm
Your dog is scared. Dogs are used to a lot of affection and being well looked after. After fending for herself for 2 days Lolly was petrified and exhausted. When spreading the word about your dog, let people know that if they see your dog, they shouldn’t: call your dog’s name, chase your dog, make eye contact or sudden movements. While this might seem strange because typically dogs are friendly in ordinary circumstances, just remember this isn’t a regular encounter with your dog.
5. Bring Your Clothing & Your Dog’s Favourite Treats
Though your dog most likely won’t come up to you as soon as they see you (because they’re scared). Sniffing your clothes and smelling their favourite treats after being apart helps dogs to reestablish trust “remember” their owners. Don’t forget dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell and your scent will help them recognize you the most.