This always makes me happy and sad at the same time. Pet gets lost, is adopted by a new family, gets lost again, turns up in a shelter, finally gets the microchip the first owner had implanted scanned, and is reunited with its original owner.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43669461/ns/us_news-weird_news/ (In this case I’m more sad than happy.)
Sometimes this is good for the pet and sometimes its not. Cats and dogs are a lot more sentient than we generally give them credit for. (I’m convinced from my own that they possess a degree of sapience as well.) They feel much like we feel. Cats have prides and dogs have packs. I’m less certain about cats on their prides, but I know that with dogs the pack is all important—more important to them than their own individuality is.
So when an animal gets lost and separated from its family, and then adopted into a new one where several years go by, as is the case in the story I linked above, it can be rather detrimental to it. Seven years, in the case, which to a dog is as a lifetime. I can’t help but feel sorry for poor Gizmo/Mimi. Seven years in one pack in Arkansas and now off to California to be reunited with her original ‘owner.’ I do believe that dogs tend to have pretty good memories and that while uncertain of her new surroundings will likely have some memory of the original owner, which may help make it easier on her. But she will mourn the loss of her pack for some time, and may never actually be the same again. The experience the loss of a loved one the same way that we human beings do.
I feel for the original owner as well. I know how elated I would be if noticed a new voicemail and it was news that one of my lost cats had turned up in a shelter somewhere. I’d definitely want to see them again. But I’d be torn about bringing them home with me—assuming they had a new family somewhere that had been taking care of them. Not only is Gizmo/Mimi a part of the life of that family who cared for her for seven years… they are a part of her pack. After seven years, I think its important to consider what is best for the animal’s mental health.
Seven of Nine (Tertiary Adjunct of UnimatrixZero) remains at large, and is presumed dead. She has a chip. Either that or she finally got that transporter working and beamed herself away, and now I’m waiting while she builds a new one to beam home (except I’ve moved twice now since).
She lived both indoors and outdoors and would often patrol the hood at night, sometimes not coming home for a day or two. In hindsight this was a bad idea. Coyotes also patrolled our hood, looking for a meal.
Kanika, my next cat, lived primarily indoors as a result of Seven. Didn’t want to lose her to the coyotes the way I suspect I lost my dear Seven of Nine.
With Kanika I actually still hold out hope she’s out there somewhere. Like most cats, she wanted outside and like most cats is rather clever. She slipped out. I was torn about forcing her to stay indoors that I didn’t make much of an effort to make her come back in that last time. She had been out the night before, safe and sound, not straying far from the house I don’t think. Slipped out again the next day. I remember her meowing late that night, waking me up, to come back in… but lazy me didn’t get up to open the door. Haven’t seen her since, and I kick myself every time I think about it. Its one of those things I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for. I miss both my cats a lot.
She too has a chip, and on one of her earlier escapes ended up lost for a week and a half or so. That time could have been greatly reduced if the nice lady that found her had bothered to drop her off at the shelter, where out of routine they would have scanned her, got her chip number, and gotten in touch with me. Instead the lady took her in, but fearing her dog would eat her (unlikely.. Kanika puts dogs in their place), took her to the apartment complex she managed and had her on-site maintenance guy caring for her. A sign was put up a couple of days after the fact that she had been found. I was set to go retrieve her when i got the call that she had escaped again when the maintenance guy let her out to go to the bathroom. Fortunately she returned later that night and the next day I was able to reunite with her. (I lived at the time on the outer rim of Sparks, and ended up retrieving her from Sun Valley… which for you non-renoites is literally across the valley from where I lived.)
She had a chip, but it proved as useless as Gizmo/Mimi’s did when first displaced. As an all black cat, she’s kind of an in-demand commodity, and while I definitely feel that Seven has moved beyond, I don’t feel that with Kanika. She may well have found a new home with people who never got her scanned.
There was one time the chip worked, and that was when Dax got out because someone left the back gate open. He went exploring and wandered into the gated community.
Unfortunately he opted to do so in-between collars and so wasn’t wearing the tag that indicated he was chipped, as depicted in the picture above.
The gated community he infiltrated was a retirement one, and from accounts it would seem that many a good neighbor tried to contain him, but he was frantic and wouldn’t allow them near enough. Eventually he got trapped when he jumped into someone’s front walkway, which too was gated and also a lower elevation from where he jumped from, making it impossible for him to get back out.
The kind people living there took him in for the night, giving him food and much-needed water and shelter. The pads of his feet were rather raw from all the running around on hot asphalt he had been doing and I’m glad the people he found were caring enough to help him out. They called animal control the next day and someone was dispatched who had the foresight to scan him on the spot, detecting his chip. I was on my way home from Gabe’s, literally a block away, when I got the call. Saved me a trip to the shelter as well as the fee to get him released. Happy reunion.
I’m pleased he was a good house guest. The couple who had taken him told me what a gentleman he had been. Said they’d love to have a dog like him. Which got me to thinking… what if they had wanted to keep him? Obviously he was well-mannered and trained. An easy dog to fall in love with. His collar had worn down to the point it ripped, and I hadn’t yet acquired him a new one. That few days of delay could have separated him from the only family he’s ever really known. They were, however, quite pleased it all worked out. The lady and I were talking and it wasn’t the first time they had caught a ‘stray’ and gotten it to the shelter for its owners to find. She said she was always hesitant to do it because as a non-owner, they would never let her know the outcome… if the pet had been reunited with its owner, adopted to another family, or in the worst case, put down. That was always her fear, that she’d try and do the right thing for it, and it would end up euthanized as a result of her actions. (So I do, actually, get why people don’t rush strays off to the shelter…opting to wait it out a bit and see if the owner comes looking).
I really do feel for Gizmo’s family. I also feel for Mimi’s original owner. (Its the same dog.) One lost a pet, the other is now losing a family member of seven years. Yet there is a cautionary tale for Gizmo’s family.
When you get a new pet that isn’t a newborn where you know the parent animal (or at least the parent animal’s owners), and isn’t coming from an animal shelter (where they scan for chips as a matter of routine), you’re probably going to take it to the vet to get checked out and of course get its immunizations in order. Take the time to ask the vet to scan it for a microchip. Please. It might be my cat you were given, or took in thinking it was a stray. At this point if Kanika has a loving home, I’m not inclined to take her away from it, but if that is what happened, and if the people who are caring for her now had checked for a chip, no one would be in the position of the two sets of owners that poor Gizmo/Mimi has should she end up at a shelter and I end up getting a call to come pick her up.
If it has a chip, and you identify that right away, you can spare a fellow human being their heart-ache… you can spare the animal you care enough about to provide a home for from the anguish of being separated from its family (think how abducted children feel… for cats and dogs experience similar things when they get ‘lost’ and can’t find their way home again). There are plenty of other animals needing good homes if your heart was set on having a pet and the one you got turned out to already have a loving home to go too.
And Narc, my feline friend… you don’t have a chip… but i’m pretty sure you’re still out there, living it up with the nice family whose house you no doubt walked right into. “Mommy! Look! A Kitty! Can we keep it?!?!” Thank you for stopping by nine months later to let us know you were still alive, after we all had cried and said our good-byes to you… only to have you wander off again on us a month later. Punk. You’re missed, but you were clearly happy with your new family (perhaps because they didn’t put you on a diet like we did).