|My heart sank when I drove into my
driveway on February 9, 2005. There was no barking, just quiet.
Normally after a long day of work I'm immediately greeted by
incessant barking, always started by Jocko, our resident
vocalist. But something was wrong, it was too quiet.
I went inside and was greeted by Otto, our
Great Dane, but still, I didn't hear the barking. I checked into
the garage where the Omar, Jocko and Tanya are kept -- Tanya and
Omar in crates, Jocko loose in the room otherwise he would bark
non-stop all day. I heard movement, but no nose poking through.
I felt the cold.
Jocko was gone. The door was opened a little
bit, and it was dark and cold outside. The day had started out a
bit warmer, but by noon the temperature had dropped. It must
have allowed the door to open a little, as it sticks when it's
warmer. Jocko must have wedged it open and gotten out.
After taking the others out and feeding them,
I began the daunting task of the first night. Around the
neighborhood I went, first with one dog, then with another. Then
in the car. Hours. No sign. Calling through tears.
Then the phone calls, to the local and county
police, surrounding areas, emergency vets, etc. Nothing. I sat
outside for hours in the cold, searching and waiting. I placed
clothes outside in different spots, with our scent on them,
hoping he'd come home. I places "booby traps" that
would make noise should I happen to fall asleep and he came
home, the sound would wake me. I put food and water outside
where hopefully he would find it.
Daylight came without him. I searched more.
But I had to leave, I had to go back to work. During normal
hours I contacted more people, neighbors, vets, local groomers,
anyone and everyone I could think of to call. I searched the
local yellow pages online and called everyone in the area.
I sent emails to all local businesses and
school districts, and posted on Petfinder.com, craigslist and
other online forums. I began the task of putting together lost
posters. I was heart broken, lost and completely devastated.
I put posted up wherever I could think of,
wherever he might have passed by. Local stores and coffee shops,
grocery stores, gas stations .... handing them out to anyone and
every one. In the evenings I would go to local parking lots and
put the posters and fliers on cars and hand them out.
I then placed the first ad in the two local
papers. Calls began to come in, but no one had him. No one was
sure if it was him. Each one sounded like him, a couple really
"felt" like him, and each one was followed up
Some were more promising than others and I and
family members and friends would scour the areas. No sightings.
Days turned into weeks turned into months. The classified ads
weren't working and were expensive. The calls dwindled to 1 a
day, then 1 or 2 a week, then, about 1 every 2 weeks.
Everyone told me I was crazy. A dog wouldn't
survive the winter night, let alone months. Logically, of
course, they were right. There was nothing to say it survived.
It wasn't like him to run off and not return if he was able.
He'd run off before, but always returned within the hour.
Something must have prevented him. Logic told me the worst, hope
told me he just got lost. He's a smart dog, smart dogs don't get
lost .... my mind was fighting with my heart, and my wallet was
getting lighter with the costs of all the ads and searches. My
work and family life were suffering. I couldn't stop crying. For
On the suggestion of others, I ran a new ad.
This time a retail ad in the paper, where more would see it (not
everyone reads the classifieds, especially for lost pets.) I
wrote more of a story, and put up the website with pictures. The
ad was short and included photos of him, and his personality
quirks. Some calls came in, but they too, tapered off.
Something, somewhere inside me told me he was
ok. It's not rational, it's not logical, and it's not scientific
and it doesn't make any sense. But something in the pit of my
stomach and heart told me he was out there, and that he was ok.
I HAD to follow through. But I had to be realistic.
I set a goal and made a deal with myself.
Jocko ran off on the last day of Tanya's heat cycle. (our
resident female.) Knowing that if there were anything he could
do about it, he would NOT miss another of her heat cycles, so I
gave myself until August, when her next heat cycle would be. I
would continue the ads and sending the fliers and emails and
phone calls until then. They tapered off, but I began to get the
new round, as August approached.
In July I began seeing the commercials on TV
for a local animal expo. That would be good, I figured. I'd go
to the show wearing Tshirts, handing out posters and fliers and
cards. I sent mailers and emails out with the new ad, and went
to the show at the end of July. The culmination of the last
ditch effort. We talked to people, put out stacks of fliers in
key locations, handed them out to people ..... it was sad. I
knew it was the last try.
That was Saturday. No more ads, no more
fliers, no more emails. Sunday I cried knowing my promise to
myself was coming due.
Monday I came home from work and the phone
rang. One of the fliers made it to someone who sent it to
someone else who sent it to someone who was fostering a Malinois.
No one but the person on the other end of the phone knew that
the malinois she had been fostering was Jocko. Even she wasn't
sure. She had just placed him in a forever home that Friday. I
gave her his tattoo number and she said yep, that's him, I'm 99%
sure, let me call and ask them to check it. She called back and
said yep. 2 hours later he was in my arms. 173 days after he
disappeared, he was home. I cried, but
this time it was happy tears.
Tanya had just started her heat cycle that
day. That's my boy!