5 Ways to Find Your Lost Dog
Recently, my wife and sons went hiking on the Palisades Creek Trail near Irwin, Idaho. They brought our wirehaired pointing griffon, Timber, with them so that she could get some well needed exercise. As it turned out, she got more than she bargained for.
The hike was going well, but at about 1.5 miles in, a group of mountain bikers started to pass my family. To make a long story short, Timber found herself trapped between two bikes and it freaked her out. So she ran into the mountains. No one would see her for about 4 days. It took 13 days before we were finally able to rescue her with sightings few and far between.
Here are 5 things we did which helped us find Timber and bring her home.
Our family is big on prayer. We prayed to God daily, asking Him to watch over Timber and guide her back to us in some way. After we prayed, we tried to sit quietly and act on any thoughts which came to mind. If you are not a praying person, then mediate, or at a minimum think positively. The chances your pup will be rescued are very high if you put in the work. In our situation, we prayed as if it all depended on God, and acted as if it all depended on us.
Leverage Social Media
Neither my wife or I are big Facebook users, but we began posting about Timber on our own pages as well as on shelter pages and in lost pet groups. The response was nothing short of amazing. Within about 24 hours, the story of Timber had been shared at least 2000 times. Considering the number of impressions each share gained, I would say conservatively that about 20,000 people saw the posts. We learned it is important to mention where she was lost and on which trail, as well as how to get a hold of one of us.
Create a Flyer
Not everyone uses social media, and in a small town like Irwin and neighboring Swan Valley, most people know each other. Several townspeople suggested we post flyers at the local post offices, at the trailhead and at the two gas stations, which we did – again, including all the same important information we listed on the Facebook posts.
Talk – to EVERYONE
By the time we found Timber, our family had invested 160 man-hours in the search. We hiked the area, camped and even did a stake-out (more on that in a minute). In every case, we talked to everyone we saw. We learned that word about Timber travelled fast in the area and many people had heard about her from friends and neighbors. The locals were very kind and kept their eyes open for her.
Use Trail Cameras
As someone who hunts and enjoys photography, I have a trail camera which is triggered by motion. It is attached to a modem (thank you Moultrie) which then texts me when an animal appears. On the 11th day, I created a food pile for Timber. Timber had been spotted in an area not too far from the campground, so I found a nice open area that was also screened from the road where I thought Timber would feel safe. I poured out a pile of food and smeared bacon grease everywhere to get the scent out. Sure enough, about 24 hours later, she appeared on the trail camera. She then fed again late that night, so I arrived at sunrise the next morning. I set out her dog bowl and rolled my window down. After a 7 hour stake out, Timber came in and ran into the car when she saw me. The trail camera not only helped us know she was alive, but it also helped us know that she was locking in on one area to eat so long as we kept it stocked.
As a bonus tip, our family expressed gratitude to everyone. There were several false sightings and texts about other dogs that people thought might have been ours. While those were hard to deal with, we still thanked all the volunteers for the work they put in. As I drove out of the canyon with Timber, I thanked the first person I saw and asked her to spread the word about how grateful we were to everyone who searched. Timber was skinny and scraggly – we estimate she lost about 20% of her body weight. But she is gaining it back quickly and is back to her old self. If your dog is lost, I hope these ideas are helpful. Above all, don’t lose hope.