...So, this past Saturday, I was heading back home with our little old Corgi Mickey after our morning walk. And this guy in a big silver SUV pulls over to the curb to ask if I may have seen his lost female Siberian Husky puppy who'd escaped from his yard earlier that morning. He'd been searching all over the neighborhood for her. She was just a year old, small, black, gray and white, and he'd only had her for a couple of weeks.
As it happened, I had indeed noticed a nice neighbor couple walking an unfamiliar dog matching the lost puppy's description, not twenty minutes earlier. The mystery was soon solved when the neighbors came back with the happy Husky after they'd taken her on a walk to see if they could find her owner. So this story had a swift and satisfying conclusion.
Unfortunately, while we hear tales of dogs who miraculously trudge miles and miles over months and years to find their way home, that's rarely what really happens. The website Petplace.com says that shockingly few lost dogs are reunited with their humans -- as few as 5 percent! Most lost dogs get hurt or killed, or end up in animal shelters.
So what can we do to change that? Simple: make sure our dogs are always wearing snug-fitting collars with current ID tags, and/or have them micro-chipped by our veterinarians. Is one better than the other?
I don't know. It's true that tags and collars may come off a dog wandering through suburban shrubbery or woods and underbrush. But a snug collar is likely to stay on, and an ID tag will allow anyone who finds my dog to either call or return her to me. A micro-chip helps if a lost dog is taken to a vet or an animal shelter, where they know to scan incoming animals for an ID chip.
But if a dog had only the chip and no collar tag, someone finding that dog may not even know about micro-chips. That person might just keep the stray dog rather than bringing it someplace equipped to do a quick scan.
This little lost Husky was micro-chipped, but she didn't have an ID tag. In this case, an ID tag would have made it possible for the couple who found her to know exactly where she lived.
The best plan, then, is to make sure your dog has both an up-to-date tag and a micro-chip. Tags are inexpensive, easy to get online or at local pet-supply stores, and there's really no excuse for not having one. Your vet can answer all your questions about micro-chips, which are about the size of a rice grain and are implanted under the skin.
We never know when a leash might break, when dog might dash out an open door, or charge off after a squirrel. Dogs are natural escape artists who can climb over, dig under or jump fences. And if you think an invisible/electric fence will keep your dog from pursuing a cat who saunters by, think again. Given a compelling reason, dogs will zoom right through an electric fence-line without a second thought.
So be prepared with tags, or micro-chips...or both! Dogs do get lost -- but we humans can give them a fighting chance to make it back home.