So sorry for the delay - Ranger was found by Margaret, his owner, 10 days ago - after 2 1/2 weeks out on his own. This counted as pretty much a miracle, because he was out in an area with a lot of coyote and cougar activity. He's healthy, lost about eight pounds and is now gradually putting this back on, and is settled back at home.
Someone asked me what was most helpful in locating Ranger.
We got SO much good advice that was helpful. I contacted dog email lists, and Margaret did a lot of web research...What seems to have helped was:
* Putting out a lot of flyers at mailboxes (can’t do it in the mailbox, but we folded them and slipped them between the flag and the box) in the areas that Ranger was seen in. This generated calls, usually for about 2 days, from people who saw him. But the flyers had to be “refreshed”, or they lost impact.
* Putting up BIG very simple signs – got this from the Missing Pet Partnership page – see here: http://www.missingpetpartnership.org/recovery-posters.php for an example. We used neon poster board – LOST DOG at the top – REWARD at the bottom, and a flyer of Ranger in between. People had to stop to read it, but the LOST DOG/REWARD got their attention. We flyered at major intersections and the top of the road leading down to where he was spotted a lot.
* Walking the area where he was missing and talking to people. Margaret, Ranger’s owner, visited these neighborhoods and with the rock quarry he was hanging out at extensively. The rock quarry folks called *everytime* they spotted him, and so we knew basically where he was hanging out. Alas, they also tried to catch him one time, and he quickly moved on. Here we were VERY lucky, because he was traveling a power line right of way, so it took him to a natural outlet behind a housing development about 30 blocks distance away.
* Being open to accepting help that was offered. Several people offered to come help look, and came and walked the area. Two friends with dogs came to try to track Ranger, and to try and create an "attractive activity" that would draw him in. People in the neighborhoods where Ranger was spotted got out for more walks with their own dogs in an effort to spot him. People who helped included friends and complete strangers who saw postings here and on craigs list. The outpouring of support and practical help was very moving, and kept Margaret going on the darkest (and often the wettest - it's February in the Pacific Northwest) days....
* Using satellite maps. Margaret was able to pinpoint where to look by studying the satellite map and figuring out where Ranger would end up if he kept going along the right of way that he was on. She knew that he didn’t really like to get around people, they were scaring him, so she figured he might be back of there. And that’s the next place she started flyering and postering (by this time, I was out of the picture, first sick and then in NYC). Again, she got sightings reported to her as a result of the flyers and of conversations she was having with people.
* Persistence – Margaret went to the area he was last seen in every day for 2 ½ weeks, only changing the routine when his location changed. Even when there was no sighting for four days, she kept going back. She also put out food every day, in one particular spot, to try to draw him in. She missed only one day, near the end of the time he was out, because the lack of sighting just got to her emotionally. The next day, we were scheduled to go out together and refresh flyers, and she went out earlier and that’s when he came to her car while she was out looking for him. I believe that her daily visits created such a scent pool that eventually it got through to him that she was there and that’s when he came out.
We both also tried to make contact with animal communicators. Many did not even return calls. Some did and said they didn’t do lost dog work. I was so glad I was warned about that, because I wouldn’t have expected it otherwise....But one called Margaret back, said she did not do lost dog work, and explained why – she said she couldn’t get the kind of “map like” images she felt she needed to be helpful. But she offered to try to make contact with Ranger, and did – she said he was frightened of the noises (and he is a noise sensitive dogs, but Margaret had not said anything about that...), and that he had found a solid shelter, and was eating in the early mornings, mostly from garbage cans. We were pretty sure that she was right about the shelter – lacking that, the coyotes or cougar would have gotten him before that...
Margaret and the animal communicator talked, and she sent the simple message “go to the people, they will help you”. I don’t know if that finally helped. I’m a pretty linear person, and so the whole animal communication thing is out at the edge of my beliefs in some ways – but there are things that the rational mind doesn’t grasp, too...so maybe it did help.
If I were talking with someone who lost a dog, I’d say:
* LOTS of flyers, distributed *frequently* so that the memory of the lost dog is refreshed constantly.
* Neon big posters.
* Being willing to collar people, talk to them, make yourself visible in the community. Margaret said she was starting to feel like a stalker in the neighborhood she was in, and I know she worried about that – but she also got a lot of help pinpointing his location, because people saw she was really serious and did get out and take more walks, looked around more, opened their eyes and called her.
* Being willing to accept help - there are a LOT of dog lovers out there - and many of them want to help...
What a long ride this was! What a delight to see Ranger's sweet face again!