This story has a happy ending – a fact that a friend of mine said I should be sure to point out right away after hearing it the first time. Nevertheless, I didn’t know it would when the story began. My lessons learned is at the bottom of the page if you are in a similar situation and looking for advice on what to do.
While my husband might disagree, I’m generally not a pessimist and don’t live my life waiting for the other shoe to drop – so needless to say I wasn’t expecting the events of Sunday afternoon to unfold quite the way they did. I had spent the weekend in Austin with some girlfriends from work and got home around 4:30pm. Normally my dogs are the first to realize when I’m home and run to the back door and start jumping up and down at the glass, but when I didn’t see them I assumed that they had been put in their kennels (probably for doing something they shouldn’t have) by my husband. So, it was disconcerting to me to walk in, see my husband on the couch, and the kennels open and empty.
“Where are the dogs?” I asked confusedly.
“I don’t know” my husband calmly responded.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” I replied, with a rapidly rising timbre as I processed what that could mean. He went on to explain that he had taken the dogs to his parent’s house north of town when he went to have dinner with them, and that after dinner they realized they hadn’t heard them in the backyard for a while (they usually come around to the backdoor to ask to be let in every 20 minutes or so). When they went outside they realized that they had somehow managed to escape from the confines of the yard and were nowhere to be found. My husband said that he and his parents spent several hours looking for them in the surrounding areas, but didn’t have any luck. They were gone.
The area in Cypress that my in-laws live is a mix of fenced in suburbs and large acreages with fields and trees and the occasional house (or cow). Based on what my husband had read online after he called off the search that night, the chances were likely that they had headed northwest across the street and cow pasture following the direction the wind was coming from (and smells). On Sunday morning he found several websites (including one called Pet Harbor) where he was able to send notifications to local shelters, groomers, vets, etc. about them, and he personally emailed all the vets and shelters in a 2 mile radius from his parents’ house.
Flash forward to my arrival home and he has broken the news to me (something I’m certain he was dreading for the past 18 hours). Once it had sunk it that they were missing and hadn’t been located … well, I lost it. I always thought it was really cheesy in TV shows and movies when someone drops to the floor in grief, but found myself sliding down the sliding glass door balling my eyes out (not without a small part of me thinking how cheesy I was being though). I don’t know how long I sat there weeping in anguish, muttering “no, no, no” and crying out to God just one word, “Please”… but it was a while. My husband was trying to explain all the things he had done and what he had looked up about where they could have gone, but it did little to console me. All I could think about what that they were lost, and like our previous dog Lando who had escaped the back patio a few years ago, we would never find them again. Cypress was so big, and they were so small. Dobby’s tags had come off a few months ago and I hadn’t replaced them yet – what if they didn’t stay together. The chances of us finding them both were low to begin with, but if they got split up? It didn’t help that their toys were sitting right in front of me on the carpet, as if they had just gone outside for a walk with the neighbor girls. To lose one dog is sad and horrible – but to have both torn away from me in an instant?
Slowly, my tears subsided and I became emotionally numb… enough to take my things upstairs anyways. Once I got upstairs to the bedroom though the tears began again – their beds are in the corner of the room. I tried to come back downstairs but ended up feeling like I had to escape but there was no room that didn’t remind me of them. Our small condo seemed so large and empty then. I walked back and forth across the living room a couple of times, torn between going to the couch but then being repelled by the memories of them cuddling with me there to go back upstairs but then being unable to face their empty beds. Finally I just collapsed on the floor in front of my desk and started crying again. Finally my husband told me to come sit next to him on the couch, and he put his arm around me and tried to calm me down. It worked enough for me to start thinking of what I could do to help.
My first move was to text several friends and family members to ask them to start praying for their “safe and speedy return”. One of my friends suggested that I post something to Facebook, as many of our friends from highschool lived in the Cypress area. I figured it was worth a shot and found all the pictures of the boys together and at their cutest, wrote up a quick blurb explaining what had happened, asking people to share the post with their friends and to contact us if they saw them, praying it went viral.
Normally, I wouldn’t message people to ask them to share something because I think that’s tacky, but I figured that in this case I didn’t really care if it was or not. I messaged everyone I could think of that was online who lived or used to live in the area asking them to share. Almost everyone said yes (no one said no, some people just didn’t respond… and that’s okay) and started sharing the post. At last count, it has been shared 91 times – which makes me tear up a little bit to think about how awesome my friends and friends of friends are. Most of those shares are from people I have never met, and probably never will – so in case you are one of those people and happen to read this, Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. I can’t express how grateful I am to you for your help. Thousands of people (at least… I don’t have any analytics to back that up ha ha) saw my post over the course of the next few hours, and my notifications were quickly overwhelmed with updates about who had shared and comments on the post.
- Have your dogs microchipped and tagged (before they get lost)! More importantly, if you are in the position where you haven’t done this and your dog is missing – don’t give up hope! Neither of our pups were microchipped but we still recovered them. But as a testament to the power of microchipping – one of the friendly people who contacted me is family friends with the owners of a maltese that was missing for 7 years before a vet scanned his chip and returned him home!
- Post their (and your) information in as many places as possible! The more places you post the more likely someone will see it!
- Join your local neighborhood Facebook groups. We didn’t do this, but the people who found them had posted their photos there, and if we had thought of it we might have found them much sooner.
- Create a Facebook status providing the details, including a description of them AND many many pictures (preferably cute ones so people are more inclined to share)
- Don’t be shy asking your friends to share your post - I only asked less than 20 people but because of them 91 people eventually shared it and thousands more saw it!
- Pray! I’m convinced that God honored my prayers and those of my friends – specifically the “Safe and Speedy” portion! Don’t be shy to ask your friends and family to pray for this, and to pray specifically for it. There are many biblical examples showing that God answers specific prayers!