If you know me or follow me on Youtube or Instagram you might have met my dog, Picasso. We got Picasso in 2008 as a puppy from a rescue called Cuddly Canines. Helen and I were excited to get a dog together. Isn't this always "the next step" when you're dating? Some people call it training for your first kid. The day was nice and bright, warm and we went to check out the adoption event. I think it was somewhere in south orange county, mission viejo, maybe.
We looked around for a bit but after a few walks back and forth, we decided to adopt Picasso. There he was, just chilling in his cage, the runt. We took him home and he has been with us ever since, making us smile, hanging out with us, keeping our feet warm at night. Everyone says this about their dogs, but truly Picasso is pretty awesome. He's smart and playful, he is a terrier after all. Early on I taught him a few tricks and he picked them up really fast.
Picasso playing with his older "brother" Tyler.
We were so bummed out when I came home after #dotcompho the other day and couldn't find Picasso. He didn't come running to greet me at the door as he usually does, I figured he was sleeping, tired from playing with his buddy Dexter; we're dog sitting him for my brother in law for a week or so. But after a few minutes it was clear to me that Picasso just wasn't in the house. My heart sank.
We just moved recently, about 3 - 4 weeks ago. The first 2 - 3 months are the most important months for a dog (or cat) to get acquainted with their new surroundings. You must be vigilant and attentive to their behavior during this time. Often they don't understand what happened to "home" and all the familiar surroundings they were used to. Sometimes they may even think that the move is temporary and if they get an itch, they could try to make their way back home.
Picasso's first walk.
Picasso is an explorer by nature, part of being a terrier I think so he loves wondering around but he always comes back so I knew something wasn't right. We are not in the habit of letting him out unsupervised but from time to time he sneaks out and sprints for the next house or the hedges searching for rabbits, squirrels or lizards. That's his thing. I asked evryone in the house if they had seen him and nobody really remembered when they saw him last, I had been gone for 2 - 3 hours so I started feeling even worse. 2 - 3 hours for a pet outside of their familiar surroundings can be devastating.
The new place where we live is pretty much in the hills. North Tustin is notorious for small winding roads carved into the hillside and this creates two major problems for small pets. Small winding roads with no sidewalks, and the wilderness entrenched within the neighborhoods, snakes, hawks, and coyotes are very common around here.
I thought he had been hit by a car or attacked by something. So thinking the worse and hoping for the best I got to work and went around the neighborhood, whistling and clapping (the usual call signs), also I think I knocked on about 100 doors within the vicinity of our new place. Nobody had seen him. I came back home and extended my search in my car, stopping to talk to all runners, bikers and walkers. Nope, haven't seen him at all. At the same time I was doing this, Helen, my Sister in law and her husband, and even a couple of neighbors were looking for Picasso as well.
When we first brought Picasso home.
Drove to the pound, they wouldn't tell me over the phone if a dog matched the description. They get a lot of dogs daily and I guess they don't have the resources to field all the calls. Searched all the cages, calling, whistling, clapping. Nothing. Drove to the Irvine shelter, no luck either.
Just as I was driving back home, around the corner from our place I saw a neighbor pull into his driveway. I had stopped at his house earlier but nobody answered so this was one more opportunity to ask someone about Picasso. I did and he said, oh yes, my wife saw him earlier and a lady picked him up. Come inside, let's talk to my wife. So I did and she described the events that basically renewed my hopes and put me at ease.
Apparently this lady had seen Picasso pretty much wondering in the street and tried to get him to come with her and at the same time a person stopped by and offered to help. Turns out this other person knew exactly what to do and took charge of the situation. She took Picasso with her and told my neighbor that she would look for a microchip and try to return him to the owners. I left my neighbor's house with a renewed sense of hope and motivated to post signs around the neighborghood. Got to work on a flyer, printed about 30 copies of it and with tape on hand I headed out to cover the area.
The next morning I continued my search. I pretty much got to know the entire neighborhood and all the intricate roads and pathways around. No luck. But I was hoping that the same person that picked him up would drive by again and see my signs. I ran out of signs so I headed over to Office Depot to get extra copies made and found out that they will actually make 50 copies of your flyer when you've lost a pet. That's nice of them so I got my 50 copies and headed back to the search.
We had to leave soon for an engagement and as I was getting ready to leave my phone rang. I did not recognize the number so my heart started racing, I picked up anxiously waiting for good news. The person in the other end identified herself and after her name she said ...and I found Picasso.
She had gone out that morning to post signs to let us know Picasso was found and before she posted any of them she saw our sign. What a great turnout right!? I picked Picasso up about 10 minutes later. He was very happy to see me and of course I was too.
The cool part of the story is how well these things worked out. The lady that picked Picasso up actually runs the Saddleback Animal Hospital so she knew exactly what to do and had the equipment to scan Picasso's microchip and trace him back to us (but his chip hadn't been updated). I wasn't going to put signs up, thinking that they never work but this time they actually served their purpose perfectly.
After I picked him up we rode back home as we usually do, windows down, nose in the wind, ears flapping. That's a happy dog.
Thank you Saddleback Animal Hospital! And everyone that shared my facebook post, tweeted out my message and helped me search for him. You are all amazing.