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Would your pet’s ID tag help get him home if lost?

Posted Dec 30 2009 3:56pm

dog and womanOne of my clients emailed last night with a story about how she helped two wayward dogs find their way home. Tory Hughes (who is an artist) doesn’t have any pets of her own and doesn’t operate a pet-related business, but she’s a big-time dog lover. Rather than simply paraphrase what she wrote, I asked if I could pass along the entire story and she said yes. In fact, as you read it, you’ll see that she had a very specific reason for writing to me – and in fact, wanted me to blog about what happened. There’s a message she wants to get out to people that might help get your dogs home faster if they’re lost . . .

So the other day I was driving along a rather sheltered road, and loping along on the sidewalk were two dogs, obviously escaped from their yard.

Large and shaggy, one blond, one dark, and the dark one had a green Christmas bow on its head. Everything about their demeanor radiated excited guilt, that doggy glee and anxiety combined that said ‘we are SO out of our yard’.

Being a major dog person, I pulled over, and eventually got the blond one to sit and let me hold its collar, at which point I called the extremely appreciative owner.

We made contact and he retrieved his dogs. He owns a beautiful very expensive art gallery of Fine American Paintings, on Canyon Road, and was extremely relieved and appreciative that I saw his dogs and picked them up. They were about a mile from their house.

He even ‘chose a special bottle of wine from his private cellar’ for me as a thank-you, which I am saving for New Years’ Eve: it is a very expensive bottle of Chateau Domaine Rothschild etc etc wine, and reflects how thankful they were that someone picked the dogs up, and didn’t keep them. All ended happily.

I had pulled over to the side of the road in the late afternoon. The dogs, who turned out to be poodle mixes – one with a golden, one with a black lab – were difficult to settle down at first. When I convinced the blond one to let me hold her, I had to hold onto her with one hand, while finding my cell phone with the other, then somehow locate the tags and the phone numbers on a dog who, while comfortable, did not like her collar and throat being handled by a strange human.

The numbers on the tag were small stamped phone numbers, increasingly hard to see as the sun set, and if a friend had not wandered by at the crucial moment, I would not have been able to hold my phone and push the numbers, and hold the dog, and then dial other phone numbers because the first two were no longer good. While also keeping an eye on the other dog, who was skittish, nervous about the road, about me, about its pal, and wanted to wander off on its adventure.

I have a friend with a pit bull who wears a harness most of the time. The dog’s name, her human’s name, and his phone number are written in big marker on the harness, and it is impossible to miss. Not so aesthetic as small brass dog tags, but like the poodles’ papa said, most people would not have rescued those dogs, given all the strikes against them – big, muddy, skittish, and two out of three wrong phone numbers.

About your contact info on your pets’ collar:

  • Make sure tag phone numbers are accurate and kept up to date.
  • Consider that the size and legibility of the numbers may actually keep your dog safe some day, and make them visible accordingly.

These are in addition to Tory’s comments:

  • If your pets are microchipped, make sure the information with the microchip registrar is current.
  • If your pet is lost, forward all phone numbers listed on the tag to a cell phone that you carry with you. This way if you’re out searching for your pet, and someone calls to say they found him, you won’t miss the call.

Thank you to Tory for taking the time to help the dogs find their way back home. When I was a kid, we lost two dogs on the same day and, in spite of our efforts to find them, never saw them again. So it’s my guess that even though that bottle of wine was an expensive one, it doesn’t even begin to express the gratitude the owners felt for Tory’s kindness.

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