Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?WORTHINGTON — This is a very bad question: Where, oh where, has my little dog gone? I have heard this from many dog owners over the past 20 years. We had more than a few dogs dropped off at Round Lake Kennels over the years that were owned by out-of-area residents who lost their dogs while in our area hunting.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — This is a very bad question: Where, oh where, has my little dog gone? I have heard this from many dog owners over the past 20 years. We had more than a few dogs dropped off at Round Lake Kennels over the years that were owned by out-of-area residents who lost their dogs while in our area hunting.
If the dog had a tag and the owner could be identified and contacted we would board the dog at the normal rate until they could come back the following weekend to pick them up. I cannot imagine traveling 180 miles from the city to southwest Minnesota and then leaving for home without my dog.
We had one guy who indicated that he lost his dog two weeks earlier and it had been found by someone else in the Heron Lake area. How can this happen?
Many dogs are left in the kennel for the off-season of 9 months and then are taken to the field with little or no control by the owner.
What should you do if you are hunting and lose your dog? It shouldn’t happen in the first place, but there are a few things that you can do if it does happen. The first thing is to train your dog not to chase deer or rabbits. More dogs have gone over hill and over dale and out of site, never to be seen again, and it all started from chasing other mammals.
The second thing is to teach your dog to come on the whistle. A toot, toot, toot in rapid succession will have all of my dogs on a dead run toward me. Why is this important? A dog can hear a whistle from a much longer distance than they can your voice. If the dog cannot hear you calling to them, they will have a much better chance that they can hear your whistle blown at full volume.
If you lose your dog and feel the need to leave the spot where you lost it to begin the search, leave a vehicle in the original spot if you can. Many times the dog will find its way back to the truck and, if the truck is there, they will be waiting for you when you get back to it. If you only have one auto, try to leave one person in the original spot. The person acts the same as the truck and the dog will gravitate back to that person.
If you are all alone and are leaving the site, then at least leave a coat or blanket or other object that has your scent on it. I have heard stories where the dog owner gave up looking for the night and went back in the morning and found the dog laying on the jacket that had been left behind. I have never lost a dog even for a short time, but all of my dog collars have a tag on them identifying the name of the dog and its owner. My phone number and the word REWARD is also included.
The offer of reward I hope will keep the finder from running off with my dog in hopes of a big cash award. I would pay a substantial amount if my dog was lost and then returned. Many hunters will take off the dog’s regular collar when they put on a beeper or training collar. I never do this. Most of the hunting collars have no ID.
What else can you, as a dog owner, do to ensure you have the best chance of getting your dog back if it were to ever get lost? I just did this on two of my young dogs earlier this week. I had a microchip imbedded under their skin on the back of their neck. The dog has no idea that the chip exists. This little chip has the manufacturer’s company data and a client ID number on it. That number is associated with all of my contact data and that of two other alternate contacts if I am unreachable.
I paid a fee to a company called Home Again that retains this data. The one-time fee is $18. The vet gets $45 to implant them. My personal friend, Ross Dirks of Dickinson County Animal Hospital, did this work on my crew. This data can be retrieved by running a scanner over the dog. The scanner identifies the microchip number and the company that manufactured it. A call is made to that company and they then make the calls to as many of the listed contacts as necessary to locate the owner, who in turn retrieves the lost animal. You can change the owner and contact data with the company if the dog is ever sold or transferred to another owner.
Normally every location that implants the chips will have a scanner. In addition to almost all vets, most animal shelters and humane societies now have these scanners as well. If the dog ends up in the hands of the dog catcher, they can at least check to see if it has a chip and make an effort to find the owner. For $60, why wouldn’t every owner implant a chip? I have said many times that the way an owner treats their dog is in direct correlation to the monetary value they place on the animal.
Livestock producers pay very close attention to every animal when each is worth $1,000 or more. How much attention do you pay to your dog’s value? A well-trained hunting Labrador can easily fetch $3,500 to $5,000 or more. None of my dogs are for sale, and regardless of what their dollar value is, their true value to me is much, much higher.
The key to avoiding heartbreak is to not lose the dog in the first place. Then, do all that you can do to help you get the dog back in case it does get lost.
I got a call from Home Again about a dog named Josie about three years ago. This was a dog I trained and sold over 10 years ago. She had ended up in a shelter and her ownership came all the way back to me. I could have claimed her, but she was in Oregon. I gave them the name of the buyer I had sold her to and Home Again made the next step in contacting them. I wonder if she ever made it home again.
Chips last forever and any dog I own will be laid to rest with one of these identifier chips nestled gently under their skin. It is the very least I, as a dog owner, can do to protect my one-of-a-kind companions.
Scott Rall is the Daily Globe’s outdoors columnist. His column can also be read weekly at www.dglobe.com.