This is a sad story, and by chance, I became a part of it. I can only hope it will have a happy ending. I’m hoping this post will help.
On Sunday, March 23, my boyfriend Derek and I took our dog Oreo on a walk along the Indian Trail, which starts at Indian Trail Park in Brewer and travels along the edge of the Penobscot River, past the Penobscot County Conservation Club, ending at the Penobscot Salmon Club. (For directions on how to get there, visit my blog post on the trail.)
The going was icy, so it was a bit frustrating every time Oreo tugged on the leash. But we managed.
At the Penobscot Salmon Club, we were greeted by a woman walking a husky. After exchanging a few words, we went our separate ways. Walking past the clubhouse, we re-entered the woods on the trail.
It was at that point that we were startled by two unexpected visitors. Two chocolate labs stood in the trail in front of us, side by side. We stopped, wanting to avoid any conflict between our leashed dog, Oreo, and the wandering dogs.
The Labs appeared friendly. They looked at us with curiosity for a few seconds, then backed up and galloped into the forest. We watched as the pair weaved through the tall evergreens. We didn’t see their owner anywhere, but from my experience, he or she wouldn’t be far behind. I’d seen plenty of off-leash dogs while hiking trails.
Yet as we continued on the trail, we didn’t come across anyone. It seemed odd, but then, we were hiking the small loop at the end of Indian Trail, and there was plenty of open space at the salmon club to wander. So the owner could still be somewhere nearby. (Honestly, I was just pleased with Oreo for being such a good boy and not barking at the strange dogs.)
So we headed back toward Indian Trail Park. As we neared the Penobscot County Conservation Club, we came across a woman walking with a leash in her hand.
“Have you seen two chocolate labs?” she asked. She looked a bit frantic.
We explained where we’d seen the dogs. She thanked us and quickly explained that she lived nearby and her dogs had gotten loose. Since she often brings them walking on the Indian Trial, she figured it would be a good place to look. She then hurried on, toward the salmon club.
When we got back to our vehicle at Indian Trail Park, I told Derek that I felt bad about not offering to help her look for her dogs. We had Oreo with us, but we could have split up. One of us could have gone to help her. So we decided to drive to the Penobscot County Conservation Club, where he thought he’d seen her car before. When we got there, we found the parking lot empty, so we figured she’d already found her dogs and headed home.
We were wrong.
This morning, I received an email from the woman. Her name is Charissa Densmore and she happened to recognize me (or perhaps Oreo) from the BDN. Her dogs — Lemmy and Satchel — were still missing.
She didn’t ask that I advertise her lost dogs, but she did ask if I’d like to blog about what people should do if they find a lost dog. I told her that sometimes specific stories grab people’s attention more than general topics.
Since Lemmy and Satchel disappeared, Charissa has created a flyer, which she’s posted on Facebook and around town. And she’s now offering a $500 reward for finding the dogs, no questions asked. If you know anything, call Charissa at 478-3175 or 812-1338.
Lemmy is a 5-year-old neutered male. He’s all brown, wearing a blue-and-purple collar (with tags), and he’s friendly. Satchel is a 2-year-old neutered male, all brown aside from a white spot on his chest. He’s wearing a black-and-white collar, and he’s shy.
If you find Lemmy or Satchel or any stray pet, there are steps you should take to help, according to humanesociety.org.
First, consider that the animal might be frightened, injured or sick and could act unpredictably. Avoid sudden movements. If the animal looks or acts threatening, stay away. But if not, try to restrain the animal. You could create a barrier, use a carrier or a leash (or rope). Use caution while approaching the animal and make sure it can see you at all times. Enticing it with strong-smelling food might help.
If you can’t restrain the animal, call the local animal control agency or the police. (Brewer Animal Control Dispatch is 989-7003, and Brewer Police Department is 989-7001.) Make sure to give them as many details as possible — including buildings or landmarks near where you found the pet — and leave your phone number with the dispatcher. If possible, stay on the scene and keep an eye on the pet until help arrives.
If you’re successful in leashing the pet, lure it into your car and call the local animal control agency or the police. Usually, it’s not a good idea to attempt to drive somewhere with a strange pet in your car. But if you are confident about transporting the animal, take it to the nearest animal shelter and tell them the story — that it is a lost pet.
If you feel comfortable enough with the pet to take it home, notify animal control and local animal shelters and give a proper description of the animal. Look to see if the pet has any tags. You may have the phone number of the pet’s owner right there. Also, you can usually place a free “found” ad in the local newspaper. The pet can also be scanned for a microchip at your local veterinarian or shelter. And lastly, if you do bring the animal home, keep it separate from your own pets until you learn more about it.
Other things you can do to reunite the owner with the pet: take picture and create a “found pet” flyer to post around the area, especially veterinary hospitals and shelters. You can also post on websites such as petfinder.com.
I hope if someone finds Lemmy and Satchel, they’ll think to do a few of those things. If I could turn back time, I would react to the scenario a lot differently. I would have tried to keep the two Labs in my sight until their owner arrived. Next time, I’ll think twice before assuming it’s just an off-leash dog.