Baxter was a transfer from another shelter to the SPCA Albrecht after that shelter seized a large number of dogs and had to make room. He had been at that shelter for six months and they needed his kennel to make room for the new arrivals.
Baxter was unsure of the world when I met him after his transfer to SPCA Albrecht. He didn’t even know how to jump into a car. I took him home and here is what I gave him – time. For the first few days in my home, I just ignored him. I went about my daily life and let him just watch me. Baxter followed me from room to room and became my shadow. I even joked that we should change his name to Shadow. Baxter watched and learned.
I could tell he was anxious to love and trust. I gave him the time and space he needed to get used to me. A short time after coming home with me I was delighted to see something – zoomies! “Zoomies” are when dogs around, usually in a figure eight, in delight and joy. Baxter started to run circles around my yard. He was now comfortable in my home and his true personality came shining through. Baxter also learned how to jump into a car and now does it easily when I open the car door.
Baxter went to work with me everyday. At first, he would just lay in my office, too timid to walk through the open office door. SPCA team members would come by to greet him, but he was mostly too unsure to respond. With time, that also changed. Baxter now trots into the doors of the SPCA Albrecht Center greeting all his newfound friends. He now takes delight in knowing he is a bit of a celebrity at the Albrecht Center. Baxter is still shy, but with time and patience he is a different dog than he was when we took him into our rescue. Baxter was ready to be the best version of himself in a forever home. With that, Baxter meet a family last week, and I had a long conversation with them about his quirks. The family decided to give him a chance and took him home.
The hope that Baxter had found his forever home changed to worry the following day. Baxter had gotten away from his new family and was lost. He actually slipped away the evening before so when we got the call, he has been lost for 18 hours. Our Dog Behaviorist, Michelle, and I immediately went to the neighborhood.
When dogs are lost, they tend to stay in the area where they are lost from, especially if it is a home that they know. We always recommend if you find a lost dog, check around the neighborhood instead of removing the lost dog from the area – lost dogs are almost always in the immediate vicinity of their home. But Baxter didn’t know this neighborhood, and it had been 18 hours.
The family didn’t call sooner because they didn’t want us to think they were bad adopters. My very first foster dog over a decade ago got loose within days of coming to my home. So even the very best people can lose a dog.
It was pouring down raining but that didn’t stop Michelle and me from canvassing the neighborhood. Over an hour into the search, I needed to get back to the Albrecht Center, as we had a fundraiser that evening and preparations needed to occur. As we were almost ready to suspend the search, Michelle yelled in excitement, “there he is!” It was just a glimpse, but it was definitely Baxter. Then, he was gone again. The area where he was spotted was an overgrown field within a stone’s throw from the adoptive family’s home. We at least knew he was still in the area.
Walking on foot, Michelle and I separated. I lost sight of Michelle, and there were no signs of Baxter. I said a little prayer: “God, I know you have big world problems, but if you could, please help me find this dog.” About 10 second later, I turned around to walk back towards my car and there was Baxter! He was just standing there about 50 feet away, looking at me. I crouched down and yelled, “Baxter, come here!” Baxter came charging towards me. It was hard to tell who was happier, him or me. He laid down for belly rubs. Michelle joined us, and Baxter also showed his delight to see her.
Baxter’s adoptive family decided he was not the dog for them, and that is OK. Three wet souls got into the vehicle and went home to shower and get ready for the evening fundraiser. It was a good day.
Here are some tips in case you lose a dog: 1) make sure to post a photo of the lost dog on social media and file lost dog reports; 2) the dog is more likely to come to people he/she knows, so recruit anyone who the dog is familiar with to help in the search; 3) make sure you have microchipped the dog, which will significantly increase the cases of return; 4) use things the dog loves to your advantage – I once recaptured a running dog with my car. I knew the dog loved car rides so I got close to the dog with my car, stopped, opened the car door, and told him we were going for a ride – the dog came running and jumped into the car; 5) unless you can run faster than a dog, do not give chase. Let the dog come to you if possible. With Baxter, I crouched down, let him hear my voice and allowed him to come to me. If I would have run after him, he likely would have just turned and run.
Learn more about Baxter, fostering a homeless animal or the SPCA Albrecht Center at LetLoveLive.org.