Lost and Found
Anyone that has been running hounds for any length of time will know what it’s like to lose a dog now and then. First there’s that bad feeling of knowing something is wrong. Then the helplessness of trying whatever you know to find the dog and not getting any results. Depending on how long the dog has been missing, you go through those stages of grief, anger, bargaining, and finally acceptance. Then when the dog is found, you’re elated. I’ve had several dogs go missing over the years, but only one that didn’t come home safe and that one was stolen out of the kennel.
The old wisdom for when you lose a dog in the field is to lay down a coat or shirt that has your scent on it and the dog will be back laying there by your clothing the next day. That worked a time or two for me, but not reliably. The couple of times the dog was found lying on my coat, I did feel pretty smart. Another old timer’s trick was to go back and run a pack of dogs hoping that the wayward hound would hark up. I remember we did this in Maine one time after several dogs took off and were gone a night or two. We kept going back to the same spot and running, and one by one you could hear new voices coming in. When we went to catch the pack the vagrant hounds would down pretty easily. They looked awful rough.
Mostly, when I haven’t been able to track down my own dog, it’s been a Good Samaritan that’s picked the dog up, found my name and phone number on the collar, and contacted me. The last time it happened my gyp was lost in a remote public hunting area over an hour from home. I went back looking the next two days and then had to skip a couple of days because I was laid up with neck surgery. The day after surgery I got a call from a trapper that had caught my dog. We met him halfway. My girl was sure happy to see me. I offered the man a $50 bill for his trouble but he refused it. I guess I was kind of a pathetic sight with that fresh scar and stitches across my neck.
Good collars with a legible name plate and cell phone number have helped me out on more than one occasion. When we moved a few years back we were sure to go through all of the dogs and the drawers where I keep dog stuff and throw out all of the collars that had old phone numbers and addresses. I’ve been frustrated a time or two when I’ve picked up someone else’s dog and it had the wrong phone number on it. What started off as a good deed turned into a royal pain. I prefer to use a cell phone number because it doesn’t help much if you’re out looking for your dog while the person who picked it up is trying to call you on the home phone.
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