Help finding lost dog in unfamiliar rural area
March 13, 2017 4:48 AM   Subscribe

I lost my dog in a somewhat rural area. What do I do?

Douglas ran away off the deck of the vacation property we are staying at, not one hour after we arrived. It was dark and raining, also getting late. We looked for an hour, canvassed a few neighbours, then gave up.

What is my plan of attack for today? Nearest SPCA and vet are 95 km away. Do we call them anyway? There is a pet shop, and coffee shops for locals I can flyer, and more doors to knock. I can do that, also drive around roads a bit, dunno what else to do.

The issue is it's pouring rain, we are staying by the harbour with many treed and bushy yards, there are wolves in the area. If he didn't make it to the road I'm not sure we'll find him. I suspect he did travel through some yards. Do we look anyway through the bush?

I'd leave out food or blankets but the blankets will just get wet and food will attract wildlife.

My daughter and I love this dog, we are heartbroken, any suggestion welcome.
posted by crazycanuck to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm very sorry to hear that. I have heard that you should leave out some of your clothing as a scent marker (e.g. this guide). If it is raining, perhaps you could put some recently worn clothing out on the deck under the eaves of the house or under a box to keep it dry?
posted by richb at 5:10 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dammit Douglas!

I'm so sorry for your stress, and hope for the best. Posting on Helping Lost Pets might be something to do. It's the first suggestion I hear whenever a dog goes missing in our area.

I'd also call the SPCA, the pet shop, the coffee shop, and if there's a non-emergency number for the police station, I'd call too. When our dog was lost, she was picked up by a patrolling police car. Is there a local-ish Facebook Group? Lost pets are always posted and circulated in our neighbourhood groups, even in cottage country.

Put a storage tub on its side with blankets or old clothes with your scent on them in it to keep them from getting so wet? Cook food that Douglas is familiar smelling with the window open?
posted by peagood at 5:56 AM on March 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Is NextDoor active in the area?
posted by deludingmyself at 5:57 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am sure you will get great advise here. If you make up a digital LOST poster and IM it to me and let me know the town I will scour facebook and post to any local group with a request to share. It will free up your time for looking or printing posters (hopefully there is a library or town hall nearby?) and hanging them.
posted by beccaj at 6:01 AM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh, Douglas.

Any local and social networking you can do is key. I know NextDoor is downright crappy in some communities, but in mine and others there are people who immediately go out and help canvas for dogs. Can you call the vacation property owner and ask for input?

Good thoughts good thoughts good thoughts.
posted by kimberussell at 6:02 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dogs are surprisingly resilient. He's probably holed up somewhere close by that is somewhat protected from the rain. I would canvass the area looking for outbuildings that he could have gotten into, or big bushes or other overgrowth that he could be hiding under. Just don't expect him to come running out at the sound of your voice. Dogs who are lost sometimes get into survival mode, where even familiar voices and people and smells seem like threats. Be patient.

I once had a dog run away that I was only supposed to hold on to for the afternoon. He was at my house a few minutes before escaping out of the yard. We tracked him all the way across town before giving up for the night. The next morning, he was at the end of our driveway, having found his way back to a place where he had literally spent only 10 minutes. That was 5 years ago, and he is now snoring under my bed.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:31 AM on March 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

In this part of rural Canada, FB is the go-to. There's a specific "[Area] Lost Pets," but people are tolerant about posts on area for-sale groups and the like too.
posted by kmennie at 6:34 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ditto the Facebook suggestions. I live in a rural area, and there are "LOST & FOUND PETS -[place name]", general local animal groups (for buying/selling animals and equipment), and the local SPCAs all have active FB accounts. I would search every which way you can for local groups and contact them all. Include pics. Also pick up the phone to call the animal shelter and animal control.
posted by slipthought at 8:08 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, if there are any local rescues, try contacting them. (a) The dog may come in to them and (b) they are often hooked into the local dogwalking infrastructure, which can put extra eyes and ears out there for you.
posted by praemunire at 8:36 AM on March 13, 2017

There's a specific "[Area] Lost Pets," but people are tolerant about posts on area for-sale groups and the like too.

Yep. In my rural area there is a Lost Pets of the Upper Valley that covers ten towns and is watched very closely by a lot of local pet enthusiasts. Try to find those boards (vets will know about them) and then watch for follow-ups of you can. The local library might have good ideas even if it's dozens of miles away.
posted by jessamyn at 8:37 AM on March 13, 2017

I share this story because of the similarity in weather. I actually know the guy this happened to, and so I saw this play out in real time on facebook. The lesson here chiefly being that pets are resourceful little creatures when it comes to staying dry and warm -- which unfortunately won't necessarily help you in looking. So concentrate on those weird nooks and crannies, and don't expect him to come when called if it's wet.

Good luck!
posted by pixiecrinkle at 9:19 AM on March 13, 2017

Calling the SPCA connected me to the local rescue groups, who generate the lost posters. I went on Facebook, posted, then went to make coffee.

Looked out the window. Douglas was sitting on the doorstep. He was remarkably warm and just surface damp. I don't know how he did it. So glad to have him back and thanks for all the tips.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:36 AM on March 13, 2017 [78 favorites]

Dammit Douglas! So happy he found you again.
posted by mama casserole at 10:46 AM on March 13, 2017

DOUGLAS YOU SCAMP!!! I am very happy for you all.
posted by jessamyn at 10:53 AM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yaaaaay!! I've been watching this thread all morning in the hopes of an update like that. Please give him extra hugs and cuddles from all his newfound internet fans!
posted by DingoMutt at 11:06 AM on March 13, 2017

YES! So happy this turned out alright!
posted by kimberussell at 11:20 AM on March 13, 2017

Oh thank goodness!! I read this first thing this morning and you've been on my mind all day; it's been a crazy day at work so I've only just now been able to check in on you and Douglas.

Silly pug!
posted by cooker girl at 12:16 PM on March 13, 2017

Yay, Douglas! I've been worrying all morning!
posted by praemunire at 12:29 PM on March 13, 2017

Glad Douglas made it back...but for others who might find themselves in the same situation,locally, there are several facebook " buy, sell, barter, swap, sites" that routinely post lost pets alerts with surprising success. One lucky guy was located by a GoPro drone owner !
posted by lobstah at 4:01 PM on March 13, 2017

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