Last May, we had a big, stinking storm here in my area....lightening, thunder, you name it. Well, as you know I've got a buckload of Siberian Huskies. Most Siberians are pretty grounded, they don't get scared by Mother Nature. However, my old boy Hu Fei is a nervous dog and is afraid of loud noises like thunder.
About midnight on a Friday, I heard the dogs fussing and ran outside to find a section of my fencing down and several dogs missing, including Hu Fei. I quickly rounded everyone up and settled them for the night, but sadly, Hu wasn't there. I drove for hours looking for him, and in the weeks following, handed out flyers, advertised and kept on looking. After a month, I had given up hope. As I was writing Black Planet: Little Foxes at the time, I changed the heroine's name to 'Hu Fei Lee' in honor of my Hu. BTW, the name is Chinese for Flying Fox.
As July moved in, the temps rose to triple digits on a daily basis. Fourth of July passed, and I worried, because Hu Fei is afraid of fireworks. I was certain he was dead, but still, it bothered me. The month passed, and late one Sunday night, I got a phone call.
"You lose a dog? Named...ah...Hu..."
"Yes...did you find him?"
"Yeah, but can you came get him now? He's pretty sick."
So I rushed downtown, miles from our house and sure enough, there he was. Ragged, starved, sick and infested with ticks and foxtails...Needless to say, I was stunned that he had survived, and in all honesty, it was close. I truly believe he wouldn't have survived another day. He'd dropped from 55 pounds to 35. I brought him home and he tottered around the house until he finally found the crate I keep in the house. I'd moved it from the living room to my office, and except for eating and potty breaks, he moved into his little house for the next couple of weeks.
He was missing for exactly two months, and has now been home for almost a month. He's slowly gaining his weight back, we've spent hours picking stickers from his skin. He's visited the vet weekly since then. Unfortunately, his recovery has been slow and we're now facing the prospect that he might not fully recover, but still, he's home and happy. He's moved out to socialize with the other dogs and is generally found within just a few feet of me. He started howling again a few days ago, he did it while laying on his back under a piece of furniture! LOL!
We many not have much time left with him, but I cherish him now like I never did before. And Hu Fei is just thrilled to have made the permanent move to being a full time house dog.
Losing a pet is truly a harrowing experience. I've been a dog breeder since the early '90s and though we've had a few go for extended runs, I've never had one vanish so completely. The guilt, the worry...it just ate away at all of us every day of that two months that he was gone. So here are some tips in case you lose your pet:
- Hit the street. Talk to people, hand out flyers, recruit neighborhood kids to help look. Put up signs at areas with high traffic automobile and foot traffic. Use brightly colored paper.
- Remember that even a little dog can cover a lot of ground if it's confused. Move out of your neighborhood.
- Be sure your dog has a collar and tag. My dogs are also tattooed and chipped, but the majority of the time, the collar and tag will get your dog home to you.
- Call animal control and report your pet missing. Then get down there and check daily In Person! I can't stress that enough.
- Utilize free lost and found services. Craig's List is wonderful for spreading the word. Use networking sites like Facebook and My Space. Take out ads in your local paper.
- Check in with local vets, pet stores and other animal oriented businesses.
- Talk to people. Call your local kennel club, animal training groups and so forth.
- Don't give up.
- Keep them in a secure yard.
- Don't let them roam off lead.
- Be certain they are easily identifiable. Always keep a collar and tag on them.
- Be certain that your dog is current on shots, worming and flea/tick preventative. Hu Fei's biggest health issue was infection from the dozens of tick bites that he sustained. He very likely encountered some wild animals and feral dogs, which exposed him to possible illnesses such as parvo and leptospirosis.
- Don't leave your dog unattended in a vehicle.
- Make certain that your dog is well-socialized and has basic obedience training.
Hope this helps anyone who has a similar situation!