The last moments of 2009 really stunk. During a visit to my parents in rural Iowa, our dog disappeared into the snowy countryside at sunset. After hours of searching on foot and by car, we went to sleep without our beloved dog. Temps dropped to -1 overnight with a -14 wind chill. Needless to say it was a sleepless night. Our New Year’s Day plan to drive back to Pennsylvania was put on hold, and my hopes of finding the dog with nearly every business closed in the little towns surrounding us seemed dim.
There aren’t too many people with much good to say about 2009. Bernie Madoff, massive recession, 10% unemployment, airplane bombs on Christmas Day, and we still had people in our lives who had been out of work for more than 6 months. Losing Cookie was like a rock on a mud pie sundae.
We had arrived in Iowa on Dec 26, and Cookie is not allowed in my parents house, they aren’t indoor animal people. She stays in the tarp shop, which is dingy, but kept warm with a wood burning stove. Dad can work there without coat and gloves. Cookie had gotten used to her new surroundings and the kids and cousins had her out to play and sled everyday, nearly all day. My folks live in the country on a quiet road, so there’s no fence, and no reason to chain her. We keep a close eye on her when she’s out since the environment is new.
On New Year’s Eve our family had been in town bowling with the cousins, and Cookie, our corgi was home with Gramma and Grampa. She wouldn’t go back in the garage so Mom left her out and kept an eye on her through the kitchen window. She saw her at 4:00pm, sniffing around the patio where she usually hangs out.
When Dad came in at 4:30 he couldn’t find her. He set off to search for her, looking for an hour on foot, following tracks in the snow. All tracks lead back to the yard, nothing across the road at the big garage or Great Gram’s house. He got in the car and drove both directions–still nothing.
At 6:30 we came home from town and Dad gave us the news. Greg and I set off on foot in the dark. Temps had dropped to single digits and we were just sick. Greg took a tearful Paige in the car to search. They stopped at every house with light, one neighbor gave them a spot light to use out the car window. their kids said a prayer.
I was back at the house with Maggie notifying everyone we knew. I’m the social media chick in the family, it was my job to light up the internet and blaze a streak of awareness between IA and PA.
- Emails went out for prayers to our closest circle of friends.
- Emails went out to my huge family with a link to the Picasa album with Cookie pictures, my cousin’s hubby is a cop and I knew he’d light up his law enforcement network
- I sent out a series of tweets on 2 Twitter accounts, scheduling the same message to go out through Hootsuite at 2 hr intervals
- Facebook statuses were update for both Greg and I, with a request to all my Iowa friends to add a comment so their friends would see the post and photo
- Cookie got her own Facebook Fan page so I could buy an add to appear on every Facebook page in the Quad Cities
- FindToto.com was explored- they would electronically call 500 neighbors once we recorded our message
- We found the Humane Society phone number
- I searched for local Corgi Rescue members so I could email them.
New Year’s morning was not cheery for us. Paige had dreamed about Cookie. Not a surprise, she has a connection to the spiritual world. In the dream Cookie was on a gravel road and a lady had taken her in. Paige was sad, but confident Cookie had not spent the night outside.
New Year’s Day is a tough day to search for a missing animal, especially when it kicks off a 3 day weekend. Neighbors sleep late, Humane Society is closed til 10am, even Findtoto.com wouldn’t send calls out til after 10. My kids were NOT waiting til 10 to resume the search.
After 8 am Dad got on the phone to more neighbors. There were lots of New Year’s wishes, and then the sad news, the real reason for his call. Had anyone seen his grandkids dog.
On the 5th call we hit our 1st clue–my cousin had gone to dinner the night before and picked up what they thought was a friend’s dog on a gravel road. Dad got the details, called Greg to come back from his morning search and off they went to pick up Cookie. She was 2.5 miles away.
David and Kerrie usually take the highway to Slaby’s, but last night they took a short cut, despite the icy gravel road. That’s where they spotted Cookie. Even in the country it’s odd to see an animal sitting in the center of the road. Kerrie thought it was Bella, her friend’s dog. Sally and John had a corgi exactly the same color. David opened the door, hollered at Bella to jump in, and they dialed Sally’s number. Turns out Bella was safe and warm with Sally, but Sally would keep the dog and investigate. The mystery dog had tags, and dumped dogs don’t have tags. This puppy was lost, and Sally would research the rabies shot ID in the morning. Cookie sat on John’s lap all night, and slept next to Sally in bed.
David and Kerrie went on to dinner. Slaby’s is a little country tavern with great pork tenderloin and $1.50 beer. It’s the kind of place where farmers go for a meal out. Most patrons have known one another since childhood. Everyone found out about the lost dog and the cell phones lit up as they called around to their neighbors; no luck. Until Dad called the next morning.
Did I mention David and Kerrie live across the highway from my parents? 150 yards away. Happy ending, great start to a fresh year. The girls made Thank You pictures and ‘Smore sandwiches and we trekked through the cold to say a personal thank you to David and Kerrie. We were so excited to have our Cookie back, and so grateful to the whole county for caring enough find the owners and protect a stray animal from the weather.
Social media did not help find Cookie. Good old fashioned phone calls did. There are no substitutes for those, so keep a phone handy and don’t be afraid to use it.