Happy ending: A lost Minneapolis dog’s journey home

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Last Friday, Sidewalk Dog‘s very own Deb Balzer found a lost dog in North Minneapolis. Here’s her account of what thankfully turned out to have a happy ending.

What would you do if you discovered a very large Rottweiler quietly hanging around your corner? That just happened to me and trust me, the situation really put me to the test.

I was working away at my computer when I got a call from my better half to come outside to see a dog that was without an owner, a collar and tags. I grabbed a couple of dog treats, a leash and walked out my back door.

Of course, people always expect that I know exactly what to do but just like anyone else might, I felt a bit nervous. Is this dog friendly? Is he aggressive? Is he lost? Are his people around? I wasn’t sure what to do so I sat down. Yup. That’s right. I sat right down on the grass and sure enough, this hefty intact fellow with a graying muzzle wiggled his way over to me with a big Rottie smile. Next, I extended the palm of my right hand for him to sniff. He slobbered me with Rottie drool so I gently put a red leash on the choke chain collar that wrapped around his monster neck. Then we walked, and walked, and walked. I hoped he would lead me to his home or that we’d find his owners out searching for him.

It didn’t happen.

Left: Where’s my mommy?

Next, I took a photo of him and put it on my Facebook page (which Ali then posted on Sidewalk Dog’s Facebook page) and tagged a few groups hoping to connect with anyone with a good idea. With no luck on our walk, we headed back to my house where I gave him water and left him in the backyard while I went online and filed a “found dog” report on the Animal Humane Society Online Lost & Found Bulletin Board. I also scoured the “lost dog” section. No match.

My own dogs were inside the house, begging to check out the 100+ lb dog who was now sleeping underneath the sunflowers. I needed to find a solution quick.

This time, I led the big boy to my trusty Subaru and he hopped in, barely fitting in the front seat. We drove around and I spotted our postman and asked if he recognized the dog. He thought so and gave me an address to check out. Excited, I squealed away and knocked on the door. The house was abandoned. Not a good sign.

Exasperated, I drove over to by vet’s office and asked for a microchip scan. No luck. No microchip, no tag, no way to find the owner.

It was time to make a decision. I called Minneapolis Animal Care & Control. The woman who answered was kind, and asked if I wanted to bring him to the shelter and I said yes, I would do so.

Instead of driving directly there, I decided to try one more time. I noticed a young couple and asked if they recognized the dog in my front seat. They jumped back when they saw this barrel of a pup and mentioned someone was driving around in a truck looking for a lost dog.

With renewed hope, we started our second walk around the neighborhood. This time I noticed flailing arms in the distance. It happened. The owners were scouring the alleys looking for their lost dog. I learned his name is Thaddeus. He had pushed the back gate open and decided to take a stroll. After hugs from both owners, Eric and Lisa, they asked if I wanted a reward. I said no and asked them to please put a collar and tag on their beloved pup. Turns out, they have one but had taken it off and forgot to put it back on. They never dreamed they’d have a lost dog.

Afterwards, I spoke with Sidewalk Dog partner and friend Jeanette Wiedemeier Bower of Minneapolis Animal Care & Control and asked for some professional advice.

“Bad things happen to good people,” said Jeanette, who explained that last year 4,300 lost and unwanted animals came to MACC. “No-one thinks it will ever happen to them.”

Some tips if you find a stray dog:

  • Use your best instincts when approaching an animal you don’t know.
  • Offer your hand with fingers curled. (I didn’t do this but should have. Lucky for me Thaddeus wasn’t aggressive.)
  • Slip a leash on the animal and check the neighborhood for owners and “Lost Dog” signs.
  • Submit reports on Animal Humane Society’s Online Lost & Found Bulletin Board, Craigslist as well as through groups like North Minneapolis Pets. They can cross-reference to see if there is a lost report on the animal.
  • If you can’t keep the animal until the owner is found, you may bring the pet to Minneapolis Animal Care & Control or make an appointment at Animal Humane Society.

So, what about those folks who have collars and tags for their dogs but take them off because they clank and are noisy? “One trick to keep those tags from jingle jangling,” says Jeanette, “is to put the tags in a plastic key holder ring. Any hardware store will have them and they are less than a buck. Another is to simply use a Sharpie and write your address and telephone number on your dog’s collar.”

A happy ending indeed but the experience gave me a few more gray hairs and we all know I sure don’t need anymore.

Full disclosure: I love Rottweilers. Absolutely love them. I also love that we here at Sidewalk Dog recently partnered with MACC to encourage responsible pet ownership by selling Minneapolis pet licenses (that come with kick-ass rewards) right on our website.