Oh no… my Great Pyrenees has gone on a “walk about” and is nowhere to be seen. I’m so upset… what should I do now???
- Make sure your Pyr is microchipped. Have your vet scan to check for the microchip during your annual health visit. Keep the microchip information on hand for emergencies. If your microchip comes with a little tag, do NOT attach the tag to your Pyr’s collar! This number is your proof of ownership.
- Ensure your Pyr has identification. Your Pyr’s collar should have an ID tag with his/her name and all contact phone numbers. Include your cell phones. If you leave the dog in the care of another individual during vacation or on a daily basis, it might be a good idea to purchase an additional ID tag with their information. And, if your Pyr was adopted from Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue (AGPR), leave the AGPR tag on also.
- Don’t forget to license your dog should your county require it. Many counties, if they pick up your Pyr, will issue fines for lack of licensing.
Where to start… there are so many things to do at once. If there’s more than one of you available to help, divide and conquer. While these may not be in chronological order, you know your dog and their behavior, so take a deep breath, think for a minute, and then act.
- Get out there and look for your Pyr! You know Pyrs are roamers, so don’t expect them to come back on their own. Grab your leash, a favorite toy or treats, some smelly food (think salami, hot dogs, liverwurst, Vienna sausages, moist cat food) and get out there. Does your Pyr have any neighborhood dog buddies? Start there. A favorite watering hole in the woods? Get going!
- Don’t chase your Pyr if you see them! Most Pyrs think that chasing is a game and will continue to run in the opposite direction. Two things to try – turn and run in the opposite direction or drop to the ground and fake a loud injury. Many Pyrs will come to your rescue.
- Take your dog’s photo with you. Almost every Pyr owner has a cell phone full of their furry companion’s pictures so make sure you have it with you.
- Talk to everyone you meet. Show everyone and anyone you pass the dog’s photo and enlist their help. If you have any business cards at home (or address labels), grab them before you leave so you can hand them out in case someone has the opportunity to encourage your Pyr to come to them.
- Ask your neighbors to help you. Email them the dog’s photo from your phone. Give them your phone number. Tell them if your dog is shy, if they should or should not approach him/her, your dog’s name, how to encourage the Pyr to come to them, etc.
- Add the following phone number and email to your cell phone BEFORE this happens. The phone number for Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue is 804-795-7847. And our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave us messages with as much info as possible… your name and contact info, your dog’s name, their location last seen, etc. If you left the dog’s AGPRescue tag on his/her collar, we will most likely be contacted.
- Stop, listen, and call. Okay, so we know most Pyrs won’t come when called, but if they are lost and a bit nervous (or hungry because mealtime is quickly approaching) they may come running. Also stop and listen for barking. Your neighborhood dogs may be trying to tell you that another dog is near their yard.
After Returning Home
- Call your vet if they are open or call the emergency vet facilities in the area for after hours support. Give them information about your dog and offer to email them a photo or two. Don’t forget to give them your contact information.
- Call your county animal control/animal shelter. Some may not be staffed for after hours so make sure you leave a very clear message with contact information.
- Make posters. You’ll need a current photo, your phone number, and a brief description. Don’t give out all of your Pyr’s identifying marks (i.e. no double dew claws, chipped tooth) just in case you need something extra to help claim him/her. Use LETTERS BIG ENOUGH that they can be read quickly from a car. If you wish to offer a reward, you can post that but don’t list how much.
- Distribute posters. We all know to post of poles, grocery stores, gas stations, vet offices for a couple miles in each direction. We also think about those services who might be moving around in the area and can keep their eyes open… mailmen, bus drivers, recycle/trash collectors, the local fire department. Be creative!
- Don’t forget social media! Post, post, post! Ask friends to share. Sending a photo and write up to email@example.com will get it posted on the local and AGPR Facebook sites. Also check for Lost and Found social media sites in your area. If you don’t have time, ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to help.
- Go back out at night. Pyrs seem to like the night life and may be out moving around, especially if it is a hot day. Also, injured, shy, or scared dogs feel more comfortable moving around when people aren’t around.
After the First Day
- Time to contact the animal control/shelter facilities in the surrounding areas. Again, Pyrs like to roam, so broaden your search. More posters and flyers, more driving around. More talking to mail carriers in areas further out. Some animal shelters will not answer phone calls about intakes, so plan on visiting every day or so. Your Pyr may not look the same as your photo (think mud and burrs, lack of grooming).
- Contact area humane shelters and rescue organizations within a 50-ish mile radius. Not sure who they all are? One way to find many of the rescue organizations is to go to Petfinder.com and look for facilities within 50 miles of your zip code. Keep track of who you contact, when and who you talked to incase you need to get back in touch.
- Check the “found” ads. Newspapers, social media lost and found sites. Ask your friends and family members to each be responsible for a handful of sites so you don’t have to spend all your time behind the computer.
- Radio and Television Stations. In some areas, there are people who can help you at the news stations. It is worth giving them a call.
- Call your area Department of Transportation. This one is not pleasant, but… Ask for the maintenance manager and let them know about your missing Pyr and ask if they are aware of any injured or deceased dogs reported.
- Emergency contact list. If you have children, you would most likely have a list of emergency phone numbers posted nearby. So think about putting one together and posting it in a convenient location. Don’t forget to include the AGPR phone number and email address.
- Pet Searching Organizations. There are organizations that offer tracking dog services. Do not wash any of your missing Pyr’s bedding in case you need some scented articles.
- GPS Tracking Collars. If you have a Pyr that loves to roam, consider purchasing a GPS tracking collar.
In the end, remember that Pyrs love to roam. It’s part of their nature. Don’t panic, but DO take whatever steps you can to make sure your dog comes home safe and sound.
This article was written by Celeste Miller. She and her husband “discovered” AGPR in late 2013 and fell in love with the breed. Celeste handles adoptions, volunteers, and communications along with special events. She and her husband spoil rotten their two AGPR rescues, Simon and Willow.