Who Let the Dogs Out?

Everyone has a phone call they dread receiving.

Last Tuesday, my wife got one from “Mark,” a Good Samaritan who spotted our little girl, Lilly, darting in and out of traffic on Ventura Boulevard.

“What!” my wife shrieked. She had just dropped Lilly off at her playmate Maya’s house several hours before.

Mark told my wife that he was able to corral Lilly and give her sanctuary in his Hummer. He called both numbers listed on Lilly’s dog tag. His message to me was not retrieved until many hours later (I get no reception in the bowels of the VA hospital). Fortunately, my wife picked up the call immediately.

Within moments, my relieved and tearful wife and our Lilly were reunited. My wife offered Mark a reward. He refused it.

My wife called our neighbor who was aghast at Lilly’s “escape” and the two began to piece together a logical scenario. When Susan learned that our neighbor’s gardener was by that morning and had opened the back gate, the mystery was solved.

Our neighbor graciously arranged to talk with her gardener who agreed to close the back gate upon entering our neighbor’s property AND shut the doggie door while he works in the backyard.

We have an ideal, win-win arrangement – a kind of “doggie co-op” – with our neighbor that has at once freed both parties to spend longer hours away from home and give our fur-children some much-needed socialization.

Yet every “perfect” arrangement eventually requires some refinement. Sometimes the most important details are left to chance.

We dodged a bullet – or at least some fast-moving cars – this time. And who knows what could have become of Lilly had a less-than-stellar person scooped her up?

In the wake of this experience, my wife and I are scrambling to address every possible weak security link. This is impossible, of course, but it never hurts to identify as many red flags as one can.

If you are fortunate enough to develop a relationship of mutual trust with a neighbor or friend that lends itself to regular doggie dates, here are some issues to consider/remember:

  1. Do a walk-though of yours and your friend’s/neighbor’s property and identify as many potential means of escape as you can. These may vary depending on your type of residence (i.e. sliding glass doors in condos, doggie doors and open gates in houses, etc.)

  2. Think twice if your friend/neighbor is a pack rat whose digs are decorated with precarious piles of stuff – a recipe for disaster!

  3. Make sure your pet is introduced to ALL four-legged residents in the home and that everyone gets along fairly well.

  4. Learn schedules of maintenance and/or repair people who may drop by. What degree of access do they have to yours and your friend’s/neighbor’s property?

  5. Implant a micro-chip in your pet (virtually painless process). Get durable tags imprinted with LEGIBLE contact numbers.

  6. Leave your phone on “ring” during the day. If you can’t, check frequently for voice mail messages.

This list is by no means exhaustive. We invite you to add your thoughts to form the most solid co-op, in every sense of the word.

In other words, one less dreaded call.