Thursday, January 19, 2012

1-19-12 Delsin the lost dog - part 2

It is now getting to be later in the afternoon and people are still arriving to help search for Delsin. Two phone lines were ringing pretty much non-stop. Many people called that I didn't know to tell me the steps that needed to be taken to get the word out. Some people just wanted to let me know I was in their prayers.

But despite my heart hoping with each time the phone rang that someone had spotted Delsin, that call never came. I was fully in "fix-it" mode" and utilizing the internet at every conceivable angle to get the word out further and further. Email after email came in - again will wishers and those giving advice. I had a hard time keeping up with email and phone calls. The email inbox filled to its maximum several times and I had to repeatedly delete messages to keep in open and not have emails bounce.

One of my friends had contacted Bloomington animals control almost immediately after he left the yard with a detailed description. I later in the day followed up with calling the police and giving them a full description. I asked at that point if I would be called day or night, if they found him. I was told yes.

I made contact with 3 separate animals communicators. Each said Delsin was alive and that he was actually just "out for a walk" and enjoying all the smells. They said he was not upset or scared. That eased my fears some - as I didn't like the idea he was running scared in an area he did not know. As they day wore on, each communicator kept me posted as to what they felt Delsin was saying. Sometime later in the afternoon, one of the communicators came back with "he feels 'stuck' to me - like he is in an area, like a fence? and can't get out. He can't figure out how to get out". While that could mean a lot of things, I wondered if he had gotten into or put into someones fenced yard and now couldn't leave it.

There were friends of mine that just took control of areas I couldn't do - like overseeing the searchers in the search party to keep them organized and make sure all areas were searched. Some female dogs came - to help spread their scent around so Delsin would follow it home. Everyone outside walked, walked, walked, walked. They would come inside in shifts to warm up, but then without being asked, go hit the streets again. "Missing Dog Posters" had arrived early in the afternoon - as a friend took the initiative to put together a color poster with Delsin's picture and print out 100. As people walked and drove the neighborhood, poster were put up. We ran out of posters late in the afternoon and someone went to print 100 more.

Darkness settled in, but the searchers stayed out - now with flashlights. There were other friends that couldn't join the search but took it upon themselves to get Delsin listed on and  Toto is a pay for service that does automated calling all residents within whatever radius one pays for - letting the entire neighborhood know that Delsin is lost and how to reach me. Despite him being signed up for that service on Tuesday late afternoon, the automated calls did not start until Wednesday morning. That was a disappointment with that service.

After it got dark, I started turning down other people that wanted to help search. There were already lots of people out there - walking and driving. People had starting going door to door, posters were posted all over, and the searchers stopped anyone out walking their dogs to tell them of Delsin and hand them a poster. I figured the search was pretty difficult after dark and I would need more help in the morning - and then people could come then.

The majority of people stayed outside searching until around 8ish? Despite the huge numbers of people that were looking - and that the search had begun almost immediately after his disappearance, no a single searcher or people that had been asked, had seen Delsin. It left me and the searchers perplexed and quietly very scared of the "what if's".

People sadly started leaving with the usual "we'll find him". It was agreed that someone must have him at that point. I strongly felt that someone had him - had found him wandering or he followed kids home after school and now it was after 5:00 and they didn't know who to call. We all encouraged each other by saying: In the morning people will see the posters and know who to call - you'll get a call first thing!!! Before the search fully broke up for the evening, all 3 schools in the neighborhood had posters put on everyone of their doors, so staff and student would see it when they arrived in the morning.

Someone brought pizza for me and my nephews before they left. And as a final gesture, she drove me around the neighborhood  - showing me the areas that were covered, were the posters were. We drove to the police station and followed up my earlier call with a poster for them. We drove by the impound facility. Earlier, someone had put a poster on the one and only door to the Bloomington impound.

By the time everyone had left, the entire neighborhood had been covered for about 6 blocks and further in all directions. Posters were in grocery stores, school, churches, multiple parks, veterinarian offices, community center, on lamp posts, posted by dog walk areas, ice rinks..... the group had done a thorough and fantastic job.

Internet wise it had now been put on a huge amount of face book pages - and that in itself is an unbelievable way to get the word out. If there were people that didn't post it on their page, that was the exception.... because it felt like that anyone that knew of Delsin's disappearance put it on their facebook. Another person had taken the initiative and contacted the 4 major TV networks and was pushing hard to get him on the 10:00 pm news. Unfortunately none of the news station picked up the story that evening. Yet another person listed Delsin on Petfinder, did an emailing to all the Chuck and Dons Stores with a color poster to print out and place on the bulletin boards, and called a local radio station.

The last person left by 10:30  and I faced the rest of the night without my boy. Of course I needed sleep, but that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. Back to the internet. I researched and made a list of all impounds and humane societies that I would start to call once they opened in the morning.

I had started calling vet offices during the day - those closest to where I was staying. Now I called every single 24 hour emergency clinic listed on the internet within the Minneapolis/St Paul area. I reported him missing, that they can call me 24 hours/day, and authorized any level of treatment if he came in. All that I spoke with were sincere and comforting.

I tried to call the Star Tribune with no luck, so I emailed them  - 2 separate emails - trying to get them to pick up the story. I emailed and called MN public radio. I reposted on craigslist. I went over all the lists that people had sent me on what needed to be done. It was now 3 in the morning. I wished the phone would ring with someone excitedly telling me " I found your dog alive and healthy!" But the phone now remained silent in the middle of the night. I gave in....and laid on the couch. But first I made sure the yard gate was indeed left wide opened - so Delsin could come back in if he wanted to, that the attached garage was opened and the van door opened as well. Lights were left on so both Delsin as well as others would feel okay about coming back here.

Every bump I heard I was up looking outside to see if I was Delsin. It never was. I slept for about 2 hours and then up somewhere between 5-6. Onto the internet. Repost craigslist. Make more lists of what I needed to do now to find Delsin. Impounds were on the top of my list - as they are the scariest. In MN animals are legally held only 5 days before they are destroyed or sold into research. Time was ticking if Delsin was in an impound. Trouble was, that there are so many impounds and if someone had picked him up, took him out of the area before turning him into an impound - I had little time to try and figure out all the impounds and visit each one of them.

The first thing in the morning phone call that I had wished for never came. By the time 8:30 came, my heart was feeling a bit heavier.

to be continued.....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So many thank you to go out to everyone

While it is said it takes a village to raise a child, it could be said it takes an entire town to bring back a lost dog to his/her person. There are people that helped me find Delsin that I will never know and if you are one of the people that called just to give support, tell me to hang in there that I will find him, I am indebted to you. I don't know your names - and I am sorry for that. If you are one of those people, drop me an email and I will include you on this thank you list.

But here are the others - at least those I can recall. I will update this as I remember people. If I have forgotten you, it isn't because it didn't matter to me. It is only because the events of those two days were so intense that I know I am not remembering much of them.

Here they are:

  • Sharon K - she was the first to arrive to help me search and was here within minutes of my frantic call for help. She also came back on Wed morning to help search the neighborhood.
  • Neighbors Diana and Bill - whom I had never met before - who saw me calling for Delsin. They helped search as well.
  • Darwin M - one of the first on the scene as well.
  • Denise P - she was my first call for help. She dropped work, she called the others into action, posted on facebook, posted on all lists she belonged, called the berner rescue coordinator, made up the lost dog posters, and then headed to my brothers house to help do the on-foot search. On day two, she came again to take over what felt like hundreds of calls pouring into 3 numbers. And she took over the "command post" that was developing on the dining room table.
  • Coleen C - one of the first on the scene as well, she also did many calls to others to help, further pushed the facebook effort that was quickly building, coordinated getting "in season" girls here to walk the neighborhood - encouraging Delsin to come back, and walked, walked walked, put up posters.... despite being very sick. She also called the Bloomington community center to try and get "lost dog" on their Marquee and called the local paper.
  • Rick Bryan - He self assigned the grim task of walking all the ditches along the roads, walking around all ponds, looking for a possible dead dog. I am indebted to this - as it is something that had to be done, but I couldn't bring myself to do it myself. He walked miles and miles and put up posters.
  • Brian K - a vital behind the scene person that utilized the internet to really push the search. He posted without question of being re-imburst to and He also posted on craigs list.
  • Laura F and father - they came with a girl dog and drove and walked and walked. Put up posters.
  • Melanie B - walked and walked and put up posters.
  • Lloyd K - walked and walked and put up posters.
  • Mike M - drove the neighborhood and put up more posters, and went out to buy more posters when we ran low.
  • Erika W - drove up from Rochester with two friends (?) that I didn't even know and walked, walked, and put up posters. She also listed Delsin in Pet finders, sent out a mass email to Chuck and Dons pet supply stores, contacted KDWB radio where she has friends, contacted the Star Tribune newspaper, and posted lost pet on Fox 9  TV website. She also posted facebook.
  • Micky T - also came with a girl dog in season and walked and walked the neighborhood.
  • There were people from Apple Valley that never came into the house, that I have never met, that simply came, joined the search team and walked and walked and walked like everyone else.
  • Alice B - spent much time contacting all the media - the back and forth trying to convince them this was a story that needed to be told.
  • Monica P - long distance from Seattle, you called the communicators for me. Your friendship is invaluable.
  • Lynn, Claudia, and Ann - all animals communicators, all told me Delsin was alive and was enjoying a romp around the neighborhood. It eased my mid a bit that he wasn't running scared. It was Lynn that said it felt like Delsin was somehow "trapped". Of course I didn't know the meaning of that until the next day when I found out he literally was trapped by a fence.
  • My nephews went door to door talking to neighbors, posting posters and getting the word out to the immediate area.
  • Hal B - whom I have never met in person, came Wed with his small cute dog in tow (Delsin LOVES small dogs) to start the Wed search. He drove me to the pound to pick up Delsin once Del was located.
  • Pat L - who got Delsin posted on more lost dog websites.
  • Shelley S - here on Wed to help with the search.
  • Sandy (with Vizsla's) - was one of the first to call once the word started getting out, telling me some steps to take to get Delsin back. (find fido, find
  • Shirley K - who gave me more contact numbers to help get the word out. The call came via Robin D.
  • Laura A - another avid face book person that also sent a list of "to do" to find Delsin.
  • Jacqy M - more massive getting the word out via internet.
  • Barbara O - She also utilized her very extensive facebook and online contacts to spread the word.
  • Boni in PA - you sent a list of things I needed to do to help find Delsin.
  • Mary Alice - who guided me on things I didn't really want to talk about. And you remained absolutely positive that I would find Delsin.
  • Dale K and Scott R - our longtime friendship felt extra important to me during all of the events of last week.
  • The woman that called that has the website I am sorry I don't remember your name. But you strongly emphasized that I must visit each and every impound and not to trust that the staff will know my breed. She is 100% right. Despite numerous calls to the impound, I never received a call from them saying they had Delsin. You gave me valuable and timely information.
  • Mary G - so many years of honest friendship - the call touched my heart.
  • Angie D - who called with support.
  • Shelly (W?) - numerous phone calls back and forth on Wed, as it was her daughter that took the cell phone picture of Delsin stuck in the fence. While I still didn't know where Delsin was, it felt like perhaps I might just get him back.
  • Jenny P - I have not seen Jenny in YEARS, but as I understand it, she posted on her facebook 2 different times that Delsin was missing. It was the second posting that Shelly saw on Wed - and that prompted Shelly to call me.
At one point  on Wed morning I stopped answering the phones myself and my friend Denise did - because the media started coming in. More tips, more sighting, more calls of support from people I have never heard of before. Each and every person made a difference - all the positive energy helped bring me my boy back. 

And I must then add the media. While I would have found Delsin without their help, I did not know that at the time and they all came to my aide. If Delsin had not been found before they all came, he certainly would have after all the stories hit the news. All were professional, courteous, and respectful of what I was going through.

They are:

  • Paul Walsh - Star Tribune newspaper. Despite my calls and email as well as another person to the startrib it was not any of that, that prompted him to call. He saw the posting on Pet finders and that is why he called Wed AM. Professional from start to finish.
  • Gregg Litman - WCCO TV. Gregg and photographer were here before I found Delsin and then when I located him at the pound via a phone call. They also followed me to the pound for pickup. Both were wonderful to work with and it was a pleasure to share the good news with them. I have utmost respect for Gregg and how he interviews and reports.
  • WCCO photographer - another name that escapes me. Great photos he took of Delsin and I - including the one that was published in the paper. If one has to have their picture plastered all over the media, it is nice to have a good picture :)
  • Kare11 - I don't remember the name of the gentleman that came for the interview. It was enjoyable sharing dogs stories with you. 
  • Bill Keller - Fox9 News. If there is one word to describe Bill, it is fun. A good way to end a very long two days. Both Bill and the photographer (sorry, once again no name, but no less important) were great with my nephew - who needed  a bit of a moral support boost after the events of Tuesday.
And the contact I got via email...... wow, how to I begin to say thank you? From people I haven't heard from in years, ones that I have only heard of via the grape vine, ones from all over this country, even a childhood friend/neighbor that now resides in England heard of this and sent his "thank God" after Delsin was found. And so, so, so many people that somehow heard about Delsin that simply contacted me because they understood the bond that can exist between animals and their people, and they know the fear that a lost animal can bring - I don't know you personally, but your words of support in whatever form they came - phone, email, via a common friend..... I can't thank you enough for going out of the way to say a kind word to a total stranger.

So to each of you - who lent support in any way during a really difficult time  - my thank you is from the very depths of my heart. I am indebted to you for your help in bringing back my beloved Delsin.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1-10-12 Delsin the lost dog - part 1

One week ago today I was in a panic. A panic that most dogs owners fear: their dog is lost. He had been gone about an hour by now, and I held in the deep seated fear of "what if". I could hardly bear the thought that my boy may be gone to me forever.

To start at the beginning. My life had taken on a significant change and I had been at my brothers house for a little over a week to help with his 2 sons - ages 10 and 12. Last Tuesday was the first day back at school for the boys and I was looking forward to a bit more peace during the day and getting a routine established. Laundry had been started, dishes were done, some soup was started on the stove,  and I was putting together a schedule for my nephews. As I finished up around the kitchen - I let my dogs out the sliding glass door next to the kitchen. It was about 12 noon when I first let out A'kash (Delsin's son) and Jyoti (A'kash's cousin) . A'kash then came in and Delsin went out. A couple of minutes later, Jyoti stood by the door wanting to come in. I let her in and lightly called to Del to see if he was ready to come in. He didn't come and I didn't think much of it as he just went out. It was about 12:15.

A couple of minute later I called for him again. No response. Hmmm. Then I thought he was probably standing by the door at the lower level waiting to come in. I went downstairs to that door but no Delsin. I called more urgently but no response. This was very unlike him. Feeling just a little bit of worry sneaking in, I grabbed my slippers and ran outside. There aren't any "hidden" areas of the yard - and he clearly wasn't there. The closest gate to me was closed and I ran to the other gate: wide opened. My worry went over to a knot in my stomach as I held back the panic that wanted to sneak in.

I ran inside, grabbed my shoes and my jacket and ran in front - yelling, no screaming for Delsin. Silence. No movement from anywhere. I ran a few house up and a few houses down. Nothing. In that short period of time he simply vanished.

A neighbor came out - she heard me calling and asked what was wrong. I told her. She seemed helpful, but she didn't know me or know how terribly wrong it was that Delsin was gone. I carefully went to the opened gate. One set of foot prints in the snow - boot snow prints to the gate. One set of large dog tracks - Delsin - leaving the gate. I didn't know right then, but found out in a couple of hours, those bootprints belonged to my nephew: he had left the gate unlatched.

Delsin is a boy dog - "all boy" - meaning not neutered. He is a country dog and now he was in the city where all sorts of people have dogs, walk their dogs, pee their dogs. When he walked out the gate, he wasn't running away - far from it - he simply went for a unsupervised walk. If he had heard me calling, he would have come. But he quickly went from smell to smell and well out of earshot. I am sure he became "intoxicated" with all the various dog smells that are all about the neighborhood. It was a boy-dogs dream to be able to roam in an area with so much dog activity. I am certain there are many, many trees that Delsin left his calling card on.

Maybe not all people would panic knowing that their dog was just out on a joy ride per say. But Delsin knows nothing of cars and traffic. I had taken his collar off that morning and he wasn't micro-chipped. And he had never been walked in this neighborhood. It was all new to him. I was new to the neighborhood - didn't know the layout, which was the logical direction he may go, what neighbors I could ask for help.

I tried to process what I needed to do. I grabbed Jyoti - also a Bernese - to walk the neighborhood. I took her mostly so I could show people what a Bernese looked like and if they had seen a dog like her running around. I grabbed my cell phone and as I started out in the neighborhood, I called a close friend and told her two people to call:one that lived close so she could come over and look, one that was the rescue chair for berners in the greater twin cities area. I also had her immediately post on her face book that I needed help immediately. That was all within 15 minutes of me seeing Delsin was gone.

I started walking and calling. I was no more than 1 block away when I slipped on the icy road - and my right knee going at a bad angle, I heard and felt "snap, crackle, pop"as I fell an the intensity of pain in my knee was such I had never experienced before. I laid in the middle of the little used side street - writhing in anguish - screaming. I am fairly stoic with pain, but there wasn't any then. I held on the Jyoti's leash as I squirmed in the roadway. How was I going to get back home? How was I going to find Delsin? I knew I should call 911 for help as I didn't think I could stand and no one had seen me fall or saw me laying in the street. But I couldn't call - they would take me away from my search of Delsin.

After what seemed like a very long time, the intensity of the pain died. But I still laid there. I felt myself giving up: life had dealt me a difficult hand this last month and now my dog was gone and now my knee was blown. I laid there just not even knowing what I should do.

Finally, I decided to get home. I was able to use the leg - which was a surprise. But not use it well. But it got me home and then I just started to ignore it. I had to find Delsin and no leg was going to stop me. I got in the car and drove around the neighborhood - stopping and calling for him. I went to the park 2 blocks over and high on a hill. No Delsin. I would stop for people walking their dog and ask, but no Delsin. I drove the busy roads, but nothing. I went back to my brothers house. I talked to the neighbors again - explaining a bit more how important this dog was to me. They took my cell phone number and the husband then went out for a walk in the neighborhood looking. And I now had my friend Sharon there looking as well.

I came in to utilize the internet. It was about 1:30 by now - so delsin had been gone about 1 hour. I knew in my heart that getting the word out far and wide immediately was the best chance I had to get my boy back alive. I don't have face book myself, but friends do. It had already been posted on a couple of peoples face books, but I did a large, general emailing to many, many people I know one way or another. Most were local - some were not. All were contacted because I thought they could either help in the foot search itself or they could help in other ways. I wanted media involvement asap - again because the more widespread this was known, the better chance there was that he would be found and know who he belonged to. Friends posted to various yahoo type groups as well. the word spread - and spread very rapidly. The cell phone and land line started ringing about 2 and they did not stop until the next day.

I got many, many calls from people I did not know - wishing me the best and asking if they could help. No one was turned down and people started arriving here from all over to help. Many I knew, but there were people that I did not know, and that I never met. They came and simply joined the group that was now scouring the area. Everybody that came was so sincere about just wanting to help - it did not matter of they knew me or not, they knew the fear of losing someone you loved, so they extended a hand to me. I am grateful.

to be continued.....

1-10-12 Delsin the Dog

I am a private person and rather on the introverted side of things. But my dog isn't. He likes the attention of as many people he can find. In fact, just so he can get his people fix, I will bring him into a busy area - such as the main street in Stillwater Minnesota, where there are countless visitors on nice days  - and just stand still so my dog gets his fill of people admiring him. I can't tell you how many people have pictures of Delsin on their phones and cameras - people from all walks of life and all over the world. Literally. They see him, they pet him and they want his picture. My worldly dog, all without the travel.

I brought Delsin up to be a show dog, meaning I helped teach him to believe his poo doesn't stink. Why? Because you want a show dog to show himself - to say to the world (or in this case the judge) "look at me  - aren't I the best?" So now when my nephews call Delsin "Big Head" - it really IS big - due to it swollen up in a big ego :)

Not to say Delsin is a bad dog - far from it. He is fun, silly, gregarious, but also very loyal and wants to be with me 24 hours a dog. A true Bernese Mountain Dog.

Delsin was born september 26, 2002 - so he is over 9 years. The sad thing is about this breed is there are many health issues and with that, a very short average life span. Only 7 years. That isn't to say they all die by 7, as that is the average. But it is to say that about 50% will die of cancer and that average is about 7 years. I tell people looking for this breed that if a breeder says there isn't any cancer in their lines, that the breeder is either very ignorant about the breed or they are lying. That is how wide spread the cancer is.

So why would I have such a breed? After all I have had this breed for 30 years. Yes, my heart has been broken on more than one occasion and each time I think "never again". But I can't tell you how much I connect to this breed. My life simply would hold very little meaning without my berners in it. They complete me.

So while I know I most likely will outlive my dogs at this point, and they may not live as long as other breeds, I may end up spending huge amounts of money to address health issues (did I tell you that a friend of mine has spent over $12,000 on her dogs' health issues with in this last year?), I also can't be with out my berners. So I dive in and have as much fun with them, live as much life with them as I can.

So with Delsin, I relish everyday I see my nine year old bounce around with a ball in his mouth like a puppy. He smiles, I smile.

1-10-12 What this blog is

It was 1 week ago today that my dog Delsin saw the gate was opened to the yard he was in and decided to go for an unsupervised walk in a neighborhood he had never been before. Thus, a massive search was started to find my wonderful boy. In the process, fans of Delsin grew and grew and even after he was found, people wanted to know many things. So this blog is about a few things:

  • Delsin the dog - who is is, where he came from and the life he lives.
  • Delsin the lost dog - how he became separated from me, how the story unfolded, and his return to me. I will also answer the many questions that have come up on comment boards, so people can better understand what happened and why.
  • Delsin does Westminster - join me and Delsin on our maiden voyage of going to New York City in Feb 2012 for the super bowl of dog shows.
Comments will be welcomed on this blog - but with that said, I will immediately remove all mean hearted comments - as there is no reason to be mean and the world is a better place without it. 

I hope this blog is fun, educational and well..... about Delsin!