Category Archives: Lost

A Life Shattering Experience

On this day last year, I was at a vet’s office while my elderly cat underwent surgery when I got a text message.  “Check Facebook.  Bunny and Brock are missing.” Bunny is the single most special animal I’ve ever fostered.  I almost didn’t let her go, and every day for the last year, I have wished that I hadn’t.  She was worth giving up the rescue for, to me.  She was worth it all. When Bunny arrived  in our care, she was one of the most fearful dogs I’d ever seen.  She was nearly feral.  She was born in a shelter as evidence in a hoarder’s animal cruelty trial, and spent the first eight months of her life without leaving her kennel or seeing daylight, or grass.  She and her siblings were said to be so afraid of grass that they collapsed on it and crawled, dragging their handlers to the sidewalk where they could at least feel the familiarity of concrete.  Volunteers for a border collie rescue had helped to socialize them, driving for hours  each week to arrive at the shelter and work with the 20 dogs that were left out of the original 30 or so (some died in the kennels, including some of the pups that were born there, and Bunny’s mother.)

When we took Bunny in, it was a lot of work, effort and a heck of a learning experience for me.  We went through so much together.  It was just a completely fulfilling experience for me, though, as I really learned about the kind of dogs that I love to help.  I would take in a million Bunnys just to see them blossom the way she did.  She was here for over a year, and she was a huge part of my life.  I was close to keeping her with that “perfect” home came along, and I was able to let her go so I could continue my rescue work.

A year later, that text message came, and my world was shaken, rocked, off its foundation.  We launched into action.  A Facebook page just for the two dogs and their search effort quickly grew to over a hundred people.   Volunteers donated an incredible amount of money to help cover advertising costs, and my husband, best friend and myself spent well over 30 hours the first week searching on foot, searching with dogs, and hanging flyers and posters to try and find the dogs.  I spent every day making a trip out to hang more posters or to search, even if I was alone.  In addition to ads, we contacted media, had the dogs’ story make the front page of the paper locally here and featured in a large spread in a weekly paper that comes out in a large area locally.  We had http://www.findtoto.org send calls out to thousands of neighbors in the area to report the dogs missing.  I took and made phone calls daily as nearly every stray dog sighting in a huge radius was called in to me- with not a single one showing any hope of being the dogs.  While I didn’t know Brock that well, we never narrowed our search for just Bunny.  It’s our hope that if she is alive, so is he.

We never had a confirmed sighting of the dogs.  After a month, our efforts on foot dwindled.  We kept our flyers updated, kept checking Craigslist and other sites, but nothing really seemed to stand out.  It’s like they disappeared.  In fact, some theories came out that perhaps their adopters gave them away (I hope not, and am not accusing them of such,) or perhaps they were stolen, or picked up and moved far away.  I will probably never know.

It’s been a year, and I’ve never stopped thinking about Bunny.  I’ve never stopped missing her.  My heart has not been whole.  I have never regretted one of my mistakes in rescue as much as I regret not keeping her here, with me, where she never would have ended up in this situation.  Some days, the misery I feel over losing her is unbearable.  In terms of closure and the ability to move on, it would have been better to find her lifeless body than never to have found her at all.   I fear I’ll have this pain with me for the rest of my life.

In the past year, it has been more difficult to allow rescued animals to go.  I have a harder time parting with fosters, a harder time trusting adopters, and an emotion of protectiveness that overcomes reason too often.  I can only hope that this will fade, or I  may have to give up my rescue for Bunny after all.

http://www.facebook.com/v/1361715043668

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Filed under Lost, Personal, Pets, Rescue

Lost Pets- Feedback needed, please assist!

Coming full circle to a post I made months ago about lost pets, I will be starting to publish some posts on what to do if you lose a pet and how to prevent the loss of one in the first place.  A presentation/seminar is in the works on this topic and so I am wondering what it is that you would like to know about the search for missing pets.  If you were to go to see a speaker, what questions would you have and what would be your biggest concerns.

Have you ever lost a pet?  How did your pet get away from you?

Stay tuned as my lost pet guide is broken down into blog-friendly parts and posted here.  Please share this blog post with your friends with dogs and cats.

My mission to help guardians who have, may, but hopefully will never have to lose a companion animal is dedicated to Bunny.  Hoping you’re out there somewhere…

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Filed under Lost, Pets, Rescue

Lost- part 1: They’re missing

Bunny plays with a toy for the very first time

On February 19th, 2009, I brought home a foster dog named Bunny.  Victim of a faulty legal system, she had grown up in a kennel at a shelter from birth to three years where she got very little human interaction.  Though she was not yet born at the time of seizure, she was considered “evidence” in an animal hoarding cruelty trial with thirty other dogs and the “evidence” dogs were mostly ignored by the shelter.  It was eight months before Bunny saw grass or breathed fresh air for the first time thanks to caring volunteers, and she and many of the other dogs born into this situation were terrified of the large world outside.   The result of her “sheltered” life was a fearful, skittish dog that was afraid to move from tile to carpet, jumped and scattered the first time she saw a TV, was afraid to step onto a dog bed or other elevated surface and was afraid of people.  She was basically feral.  It took me farther than I have ever gone into the realm of rehabilitation and therapy to get her to a point where she could eventually go out with me in public, meet new people without being too frightened and eventually, become adopted. I even took her to obedience classes for socialization towards the end of her stay here.  The first week, she hid under a chair and would not take treats.  By the eighth week, she graduated after being able to participate in class and complete all her exercises with the rest of the class.  Though she had made progress, I was unsure if I would ever be able to adopt her out or if I would be able to let her go, emotionally.  I was  A lot of people fell in love with Bunny through Facebook, reading my updates on both my page and that of the rescue’s, and I think that most didn’t believe I ever could let her go (me either!)  Though a deleted account resulted in its permanent loss, we kept a blog for Bunny as well that detailed some of our milestones.  The greatest of these came the day Bunny met a young couple that had experience with shelter and had adopted a dog that had fear and security issues of his own.  She trusted them instantly, it seemed fated.  We spent a month meeting up for weekly playdates and bringing Bunny to their home to let her get used to them, and once she even spent the night.  Her slumber party went so well that I only came back the next day to have her adopters officially sign paperwork and make her part of their family.  I was so happy and so proud of her.  She was adopted on February 28th of 2010.

Even though she was a different dog by the time we found her a home, Bunny was still fearful.  Her owners, whom Bunny adored from the moment she met them, were going to continue taking her to classes, working on socialization exercises and helping her continue to grow.  Then they got married, then pregnant soon after adopting her and redirected their focus to this new life they were embarking on.   While she is super happy and relaxed at home or out on a hike with her canine housemate, Brock, Bunny is still not sure what to think about new people or places.

Bunny meeting Brock for the first time

On February 14th, five days shy of her 2 year rescue-date anniversary and two weeks before her one year adoption anniversary, Bunny and Brock went missing.  No one has really seen them since as far as we can tell.  It has been a heartbreaking, lifechanging experience for me.  This dog would have stayed here but I worked through my own attachments and let her go.  And now, I have no idea where she is.  With every phone call that doesn’t lead us to Brock and Bunny, I feel a little more lost myself.  These dogs are my family.  In this hard time, though, I have learned how lucky I truly am after seeing a community of friends, rescue supporters, and total strangers who simply love dogs and are moved by our dedication to trying to get Bunny and Brock back into safety.  Something inside me knows that there is more out there and knows that I could offer more, myself.  I have felt this way before, and STAR is now six years old.

Bunny, far more confident, after many months of rehab and loving care.

In the next few blogs I am going to start putting down thoughts and tips on finding lost pets, preventing pet loss, etc.  I will also be talking about my new resolve to do something more with life and why I feel it’s so important to do so.  I hope that if you are a pet lover, you will learn from my experience and be better prepared if something should happen to your pet.  Stay tuned!

-Crystal, The Star Thrower

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Filed under Lost, Pets, Rescue, Uncategorized