That Wasn’t The Weekend I’d Planned!
Friday 13th lived up to its reputation. It showed its grim misfortune as a day not-to-be-forgotten for my close friend Kathleen. Her dog Schnapps, ‘normal’ sister to three damaged, ex-breeding schnauzer sisters was let out of the garden by a delivery driver at midday and went wandering. And wandering. After an exhausting and traumatic three days and two nights for everyone involved, Schnapps was reunited with her family last night. She was found in the garden of an empty house about 20 minutes walk from home.
Being in France, all I could do was get busy on social media, fight tears and hope hard that Schnapps would be quickly be home and we’d be out walking again together soon. Of the four sisters, Schnapps is the most confident as she’s had a regular life, loved fiercely by Kathleen and her family and never had anything to worry her. It made me wonder what the survival instincts for family dogs are like when challenged. Thankfully, dogs are resilient and resourceful, even those who’ve lived pampered lives.
In the time she was missing, it’s thought that Schnapps travelled several miles across a nearby golf course and wine estate, but sensibly found shelter from the cold and freezing rain which fell relentlessly for a lot of the time she was missing. She wasn’t in bad shape when she appeared out of the gloom in the garden where Kathleen’s partner Mel was softly calling for his lost girl. It brought to an end a dreadful experience none of us ever want to relive.
This experience has made me properly realise that all of us with dogs, could one day find ourselves in this situation. It can happen to anyone, even the most cautious and careful of us could have a dog lost, or stolen. I learned a huge amount over the weekend about the logistics of searching for lost dogs. Excellent advice was given on social media from experienced people who know first-hand what to do, what to avoid doing, and what dogs do when they’re lost. After posting on my own Facebook page Friday evening, immediately advice was offered to open a dedicated Facebook page for Schnapps to help focus people’s attention. Although social media is not for everyone, and it’s not always a good idea to have information spread in several places, I thought I’d give it a go. I’m familiar enough with Facebook to think this would help if several of Kathleen’s friends and family could also help to manage the page. It proved to work well for us over the weekend.
Perhaps the biggest practical advice and support came from the Dog Lost team of volunteers. I admit to not knowing a lot about how this nationwide voluntary organisation works before Schnapps’ misadventure. That’s changed over the past few days and I’d like to urge everyone to register with Dog Lost. Go to the main website here and register, it only takes a few minutes. If a dog is lost in your postcode area you’ll get an email. You then do as little or as much as you can, or want to. As we’ve discovered this weekend, even by sharing the news it really helps. The word gets out very quickly, especially when local people share the visually recognisable Dog Lost messages.
Tapping into local support, and the good will of people who want to help was seen perfectly in Seaford where Kathleen lives. The community rallied immediately to help, posters were printed free of charge by Tansleys Printers and distributed by the many people who walked miles searching and raising awareness of missing Schnapps. By Sunday it was obvious that no-one in the area could fail to have heard her story; messages on our facebook page flooded in from people helping out, or praying for this to end well for Schnapps.
In the end, one hero stands out. Lenny, an adopted collie mix who, as he’s Kathleen’s daughter’s dog gets to hang out with the schnauzers, helped to focus the final search.
Lenny was especially interested in the garden of the empty house Schnapps was found in, which was next door to where she’d been spotted earlier in the day. In Kathleen’s words, he didn’t know he was a hero, but he certainly is in our eyes! As is everyone else, human and canine who helped out in any way. We know several travelled from far afield to join the search. Many, many people shared social media posts, were out searching, others phoned radio stations and made suggestions of people that might help. Every single activity that people did over the weekend brought about this happy ending. It could easily not have been so.
For more information on lost dogs visit: