April 7, 1992
Santa Rosa, CA
Santa Rosa Press Democrat Newspaper
This month is the five year anniversary of starting my business as a Lost Pet Consultant throughout California called The Social Pet. My case blog has a listing of over 500 cases since that time, and many of those cases contain multiple days, multiple weeks and multiple months.
Every single case is completely unique and different and unlike any other case. There may be similarities, but I approach each new case with a fresh perspective and lots of hope and an open mind. Each missing animal is special and unique and it can feel like the world is "out of whack" and out of alignment until that animal returns home safe.
I think each person has at least one story where they know about a friend's or family member's pet has gone missing, or their own personal pet has become lost. I have discovered that sharing these stories to begin with can help a person who is missing a pet to learn that they are not alone and to share the many ways possible to get that missing pet home quickly and safely.
I will briefly share my own personal experience with loosing a pet in 1992. I had moved to Santa Rosa in 1990 from San Francisco with two dogs, Jetta, a two year old Mixed Breed, and Chessie, a six year old pit bull. The house I was renting was the third house at the back of a large lot, and my house butted up against one of the corners of the fence, which was recently put in prior to my moving in. After moving in, I installed additional fencing to separate my house from the other two on the large lot. This allowed my dogs to come and go from the house without the fear of running loose on the lot, which had other dogs and many people.
At night, I would leave the door to the house open so the dogs could come and go throughout the night, if they choose. Early one morning, almost a year after moving in, I went outside to call the dogs in and neither one came to the porch. Since I knew the yard was completely secure and locked, I could not understand how they got out. I checked under the house, just in case, but did not find them. I immediately got into the car and starting driving around the suburban neighborhood.
After driving around for over an hour, I came to the front of the house and found Jetta sitting on the front driveway, but Chessie was not with her. I immediately put Jetta inside the house and continued driving around and around and talking to everybody, but nobody seemed to see Chessie.
I had to get to work, so I quickly got dressed, left a message on my boss' voicemail why I would be a little late. I thought Chessie would be home by the time I got back later that day. However, she never returned. Chessie was about 35 pounds and tannish/red with a white stripe down her face and big dark eyes like she was wearing way too much eyeliner. She was tattooed and wearing a sturdy collar with full ID tags. This was before microchips. She was super friendly with everybody. To make things more confusing, she had had recent cruciate surgery on her rear right leg. She had difficulty walking, and when she did, she was in pain without the use of regular doggie aspirin.
While still working full time and living in Santa Rosa by myself, I searched every single day for Chessie in all areas and even throughout the Bay Area with the help of friends and family. I never saw her again.
After a couple of days, it was still confusing how the dogs could have escaped the yard. The fence surrounding the property was eight feet tall plus a foot of lattice, and the fence I put in was six feet tall. I could not find any holes under the fence. A nearby neighbor came into the yard to check everything for me as an additional set of eyes in case I was missing something. He bent down under the house and said he saw a tiny bit of light coming from the far back side. Being a small person, I crawled under the house on my stomach and reached the far fence. There was a single board that was loose and appeared to be propped up from the yard adjacent to mine behind the house.
I went to that person, a very grizzled old man, and explained the situation to see if he knew about Chessie being missing. He said he had seen the flyers on the street. When I went to look at the board from his property, the board was clearly just propped up and not attached and easily fell over when I looked at it. His yard was large with the secure fence going around the property and a solid gate leading from the side yard. He said that Chessie must have jumped the fence. I explained to him about her bad leg, and he didn't say anything.
At this point, I believed that this man had coaxed both dogs from the yard, knowing Chessie was a pit bull, but discarded Jetta. However, I had no proof, so there wasn't much I could do, but continued to look for her.