**The following article includes mentions of specific brands of dog accessories/services. Free Korean Dogs was not commissioned to include these mentions and does not receive compensation from these companies. Opinions are entirely our own.
The truth of the matter is, the majority of people who come across news of a lost dog think, “that won’t happen to me”. Everyone who has ever lost a dog didn’t think it would happen…until it did. Missing dog incidents don’t just occur with newly adopted dogs. They include dogs who have been with their families for any length of time, and do not exclude dogs who are seemingly well settled and bonded to their home.
It is often after this “honeymoon phase” has passed that people begin to relax and become more complacent with the structure and rules of the home. In many ways they’ve gotten to know their dogs, and the initial safety measures that seemed adequate in the beginning now feel excessive to some as their dog settles in. While newly arrived dogs account for many lost dog cases, they are not the majority. In fact, we’ve found their occurrence to be on par with dogs who have been with their families for 3 months or more.
We’ve heard so many anecdotes of owners who, again, underestimated the situation and were stunned when their dog successfully escaped.
“She ran out the front door. She’s never done that before!”
“I slipped on ice and fell… I accidentally dropped the leash and he took off running… Something spooked him and he slipped out of his collar or harness”
“The fireworks spooked her, and she crawled through a gap under the fence”
“We only used his collar thinking it was just a quick pee break… He slipped out of it and ran…”
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
The fact is, the reason for a majority of these lost cases is quite simple – you don’t know what you don’t know. Owners spend so much time trying to establish consistency and stability when helping their dogs settle in that everything becomes second nature, and it can be difficult to predict reactions in different situations.
“Exhibit A” was walking well on leash, so his owners thought a simpler harness would suffice. However, when they ended up on a busier street and some one walked by a little too close for his comfort he panicked, slipped out of his harness, and ran off. “Exhibit B”, however, was never a fan of walks. She was rather shy and preferred the comfort of home. Nonetheless, one day when she felt a little more confident, she decided to make a run for it out the front the door. The owner of “Exhibit C” didn’t think anything would happen with using just a collar for a quick pee break – until it did when she backed out of it.
The risk of these circumstances can be further elevated when the dog is in the care of a third party, whether a family member or dog walker. Dogs may be care-free and easy going with their humans, but we can’t always assume they will be with everyone else. Each relationship is different, which makes their responses different as well.
Jingu had been with his forever family for 3 years when he decided to embark on a solo adventure without them. If you ever saw him with his dad, you’d liken them to a dynamic duo like Calvin & Hobbs, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo, or Charlie Brown & Snoopy. Their bond was unbreakable, and this became a double-edged sword. Jingu was loyal to a fault.
One day, Jingu’s dad had to leave town to attend a family matter. 3 days later, Jingu, realizing his dad had not come home for a few days, bolted out of the front door of the home he lived in for the past 3 years. After plastering lost dog posters around the area, people began to phone in to report sightings of him in the area. However, the ever agile Jingu always managed to slip away again out of sight.
We began to see an obvious pattern. Jingu was visiting all the areas he and his dad would go together. However, despite having a better knowledge of areas he was more likely to frequent, Jingu’s determination to find his dad was greater than his love for treats or anything else for that matter. We knew the conclusion of our search would end in 1 of 3 ways – 1) Jingu would enter a live trap set by Al, the professional dog tracker we previously engaged to find Chester, 2) find and run back to his dad (who immediately flew home to help with the search) if they could locate and meet him at his exact location, or 3) in a less likely scenario, there was a small potential Jingu would find his way home on his own. There was of course, a possibility of 4) never coming home at all or being found deceased, but those were not scenarios we were willing to consider.
A GRUELING 48 HOURS LATER
Thankfully, with quick responsive action and professional help, calls of sightings began coming in. Although Jingu always seemed to flee the scene before we able to arrive on time, we found ourselves playing a strategic guessing game of trying to predict where he might head next based on his travelling patterns. Al made the right bet – to go further in the direction Jingu seemed to be heading, in order to meet him head on rather than following behind him. After a grueling near 48 hour search, there he was, standing on the ledge behind a fence. As soon as his dad arrived on site and called out to him, Jingu came running and was finally secured.
Each story is different, with unique circumstances requiring different strategies and outcomes. In this instance, we likely would not have been as successful if Jingu wasn’t loyal to a fault, or instinctive to visit places he would commonly go with his dad, or if his dad didn’t fly home as soon as possible to help with the search. Springing into action quickly with the right resources and a number of reported sightings, we believe we would have found him eventually, but these circumstances certainly helped expedite his safe return. With other helpful resources like a GPS, it may have been even sooner.
THERE IS NEVER ANYTHING WRONG WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION
In fact, we would rather do too much than too little. Nothing good has ever resulted from simplicity when it comes to safety. One of our dogs went missing after her owner took her out with just a collar, thinking it would be a quick pee break. She ended up slipping her collar and is still missing until today.
Despite weeks of postering, searching, and working with a professional tracker, the lack of reported sightings left us with little to no leads. Another dog who ran off from her yard during fireworks is also missing. Having a missing dog always leaves you perpetually wondering, but when they go missing in an area where several dog fighting rings have been uncovered, it really makes you wonder with a dark, heavy cloud hanging over your head.
No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. We are human, after all. However, mistakes are the best teachers, and there is no fault in the occasional blunder. The most important thing is that we learn from them, together with an open mind, so that we can all spend more quality time with our dogs rather than missing them.