by Wendy Hunter
Wendy Hunter is a volunteer with the Animal Rescue of Fresno. ARF shares with KRL their animal rescue adventures every month.
There was a doggy named Shiraz
With funky ears and four white paws
She loved her squishy Snoopy toy
And chased it with unbridled joy
Her owner thought this happy gal
Would be her lifelong fuzzy pal
But soon Shiraz would disappear
And bring about a flood of tears
So Facebook posts began the plea
Plus flyers tacked on trunks of trees
The streets were combed all over town
And many visits to the pound
Yet still Shiraz remained a ghost
Her human searching coast to coast
But then the phone call finally came
And mentioned a familiar name…
Wow, I got all fancy and poetic with you there. Don’t panic, I won’t force feed you any more of my rhythmic rhyming. This tale of heartache and homecoming comes to you from the world of OMG-that-is-unbelievable. Introducing Shiraz, a sweetie with a happy smile, and a fondness for stuffed playthings. She was adopted in 2010 by Daisy, a law student, who wanted a companion animal for her dog Merlot.
Juggling books and a job, Daisy visited a local shelter, and fell in love with Shiraz. Daisy says this caramel-cream cutie was a handful from day one. Merlot was completely unimpressed with his new sidekick, especially her Big Time Wrestling moves. Undeterred, Shiraz found another method of entertainment: liberating herself from the confines of the backyard. Channeling Steve McQueen’s “Cooler King” in The Great Escape, she was the consummate AWOL artist. As Daisy explains, “She managed to climb through some stacked furniture, and tunnel a hole under the fence. She escaped two to three times before I figured out where she was digging out from.”
Four months after adopting Shiraz, Daisy visited her parents in Los Angeles. She was reassured by her roommate that the dogs would be well cared for in her absence. Upon returning, she was informed that Shiraz had disappeared.
Questioning the circumstances, her roommate claimed the dog had run away. Brokenhearted, Daisy spent the next month distributing flyers, knocking on doors, posting on Facebook, and visiting shelters. Describing this hopeless journey, she laments, “I chased down so many strays thinking it might be her. The final day of my search, I remember walking down the street in tears.”
Several weeks later, Daisy discovered that the devious roommate and her boyfriend had actually sold Shiraz. Apparently, her pet was the last in a long line of personal belongings the duo had been stealing for quite awhile. Daisy recalls, “I was never able to find Shiraz, but she was never forgotten.”
After graduating in 2012, Daisy moved to Los Angeles. Three years later, she moved in with her current boyfriend, Sean. Unfortunately, she was forced to leave Merlot with her parents, as their apartment complex was not pet friendly. Luckily, her folks had two other dogs, and the trio quickly bonded. Then, this past July, she received a surprise phone call from Animal Rescue of Fresno. Per Daisy, the curious conversation went something like this:
“We found your dog”
“Uh, my dog is with my parents”
“We found her in a Fresno motel parking lot”
“Her? Fresno? I’m sorry…MY dog?”
It turns out Shiraz was microchipped, and Daisy had wisely kept her contact information current in the registry’s database. In utter shock, her mind swirled with a million different thoughts. She couldn’t take in another dog, yet she refused to abandon Shiraz. Resolving to find her a home, Daisy turned to Facebook again, and called everyone she knew. To her dismay, nothing panned out. Ultimately, the couple decided to find a place where pets were welcome.
Despite the added expense, Sean just wanted his girl to be happy. (Note to Daisy: He’s a keeper.) After much stress and anxiety, they found a charming house with a yard, and plenty of space for doggy fun time. Last weekend, the pair drove to ARF, and collected their wandering one. It was lovely to see Daisy and her dog getting reacquainted, with Shiraz resting comfortably on Sean’s lap. It was truly kismet. I emailed Daisy a few days later, to see if the canine kids were getting along. I was thrilled by her response, “Yes, it seems like they got on quite nicely. Shiraz follows Sean around everywhere. It’s crazy how she doesn’t remember me too well, but she remembered Merlot right away, and he remembered her.” Looks like an elephant isn’t the only animal who never forgets.
This storybook ending would not be possible without that tiny microchip. Even smaller than a grain of rice, the chip is inserted with a needle under the dog’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. Each chip holds a registration number, and other valuable data. Any vet or shelter can scan your dog, then call the registry to obtain your contact info. But do you really need to get your dog chipped? Aren’t a collar and tags enough? Well, they’re very valuable if Skipper strolls into the backyard of that hot neighbor. Dog gets rescued, owner gets date. Hey, it could happen.But if that leopard-print collar slips off, and your critter ends up at the pound instead, a tiny chip is your champion. Now I know what you’re thinking; doesn’t it hurt? Why put my dog through it? Because those few seconds and that little pinch could someday save his life. I’ve seen gigantic German Shepherds whine like a spoiled child, and tiny terriers who don’t even flinch. Fees vary per clinic, but Valley Animal Center, Fresno Humane, and H.O.P.E. all offer chipping starting around $20.
Need more convincing? The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. Whoa, that’s a lot. Also, a study of 7,700 stray animals in shelters across the country produced some staggering results. Of the microchipped dogs, 52% were reunited with families, compared to only 22% of dogs without a chip. Any chipped animals not returned to their owners, was usually because the microchip wasn’t registered, or had incorrect contact information. A microchip isn’t any good if it still lists your old college address, and a landline phone number from 1975.
Now if all that powerful knowledge still doesn’t persuade you, just listen to Daisy: “When I lost Shiraz, I thought microchipping was a waste. Well, having the opportunity to be reunited with her six years later makes it worth it. If it wasn’t for her chip, who knows if she would have found another home! This makes microchipping worth it, and I would do it all over again.”
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue.