Chilly the Poodle is a very well-behaved dog. As the “Ambassador” for Helping Hands and therapy dog, he rarely misbehaves. He rarely even barks or makes any noise!
On a recent Sunday evening, we let Chilly out into our fenced yard when he told us he needed to take care of business. When it was bedtime, we realized Chilly wasn’t in his usual spot (by the bed) and looked for him throughout the house and outside. He was nowhere to be found!
THIS IS THE MOMENT – As a pet owner – panic sets in – we have a lost dog.
If he’s not here, where could he be? The gates were not open outside. Where could he have gone? Did someone take him?
As we thought about it, we remembered hearing some fireworks that night. It was the Sunday of race week at RIR, and RIR had switched the main race to a Sunday afternoon, so we deduced that some race fans were celebrating that evening.
Problem – Chilly only has 2 things that really freak him out – fireworks and thunderstorms. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Chilly could jump the fence if he is scared. Therefore we knew that he had somehow left the yard to run away from the noise.
WHAT TO DO? Operation “Find Chilly”
We scoured the entire neighborhood (starting at 10pm) calling for Chilly. One of us walked while the other one drove.
During our search, we got a call from Jackie, Lori’s business partner. A former colleague at Helping Hands had seen a posting on Facebook about a loose dog with Chilly’s description being seen near the Patient First on Parham Rd. near Interstate 64. She called to make sure Chilly was ok, and obviously he wasn’t since we were out searching for him.
The hours grew long as we walked at least 5-6 miles going in circles around all possible streets in our neighborhood… yelling for Chilly after midnight on a late Sunday night/Monday morning. We decided to call it quits at 2:30am so we could implement part 2 of Operation “Find Chilly” at 5:30am in the morning.
After sleeping a little over 2 hours, we were both energized. Lori called Jeff and Anna from Wicker in the Morning at Lite 98, told them the situation, and they put out a call to listeners to be on the lookout for Chilly. Lori had the pleasure of meeting Jeff and Anna one week earlier when she dropped by to see Kat Simons with her daughter Lexi. Jeff and Anna kept calling us every hour or so to check on our progress. They received a call that helped us narrow our search to the area bordering Parham Rd between Yolanda and Bronwood.
We posted the news on Facebook, and received so much support and many shares.
While we were searching, someone called Helping Hands to tell them that Chilly was in their yard. They closed the gate and we went over to the house to get Chilly. It turns out that the couple who found Chilly in their yard were friends of ours who have known us for decades. Their house was on Parham Rd, which is a very busy street. According to a 2010 traffic study, approximately 25,000 to 30,000 cars would drive by their house every day. There were stories on social media of traffic slowing down as this multicolored poodle crossed Parham Rd. And Chilly had NEVER been to their house before, it was all just a coincidence – a coincidence that we are very grateful for. Listen below for the announcement from Jeff and Anna on Lite 98:
Several days later, we figured out how Chilly got out. He busted through a screen on our porch. Lori loves a good project so she made sure that Chilly (and Bella) will never be able to break out of our screened porch again by installing reinforced wire on the outside.
Pets are so dependent on us, and losing a pet, like what happened with Chilly, really challenges confidence in your ability to be a good parent. While we tried to remain optimistic, we both prepared ourselves for the worst outcome, trying to be thankful for the time we have had with Chilly while at the same time feeling sick to our stomachs with dread.
How fortunate we are to have such a famous, well-behaved and recognized pet. What about those pets that go missing that aren’t so colorful? Or in a section of town not conducive to searching, or next to even busier streets? We were able to call the media and have them do a shout out, but that avenue is not available for most pet owners.
We are also so fortunate to be in the age of social media. Chilly’s sightings were reported on Facebook, and allowed us to focus our search in one section of the neighborhood. Even if Chilly had not been found that first day, the social media reaction made us feel confident that eventually we would find Chilly. Strangers who had experience with lost pets gave us additional online resources.
Going forward, we have two takeaways from this learning experience:
1.) We are looking into options for real-time tracking of our pets. We don’t want to have to attach an iPhone to their collar, but we have found some options. One option is Tile – a tiny bluetooth tracker that you can attach to the leash. Another option is Whistle – a GPS tracker for dogs. Do you have any other suggestions? We would love to update this story with a comprehensive list of options for pet owners.
2.) We would like to provide a one-stop resource for people who have a lost dog or cat. We welcome your suggestions for any websites, apps, resources that could help others find their family members. Please let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook feed.
We are so thankful to the entire community for helping us get Chilly back. He is as much a part of our family as our children, and we like to joke, we had four-legged children way before our two-legged ones ? Next time you see Chilly, be sure to give him an extra rub or hug as we are having what we consider “bonus time” with him.